Out With the Old, In With the New: Google’s Updated Expanded Ad Text (ETA)

In May of this past year, Google announced what they are calling the biggest change to text ads since AdWords, which launched 15 years ago. Soon-to-be-gone are the days of the tried and true 25-35-35 character limits of current standard ads, and here is the future: extended text ads (ETAs) catering towards AdWord’s “mobile first” world. What exactly do these extended text ads mean for agencies and their clients?

The new extended text ads will be available for both search and display campaigns and will feature two new headline fields at 30 characters each, replacing the old 25 character headline. In lieu of the 2, 35 character description boxes, there will now be one, long description field with an 80 character limit. The new 140-character extended ads are designed to stand out among mobile search results and maximize ad performance. As more and more searches are done on these devices, we will now have more opportunity than ever to engage users within the first click. Below is a comparison of the old standard ads and the new extended ones, on both desktop and mobile.

Google Extended Text Ad Before and After

What is the opportunity for AdWords Marketers with expanded text ads?

Along with the sheer amount of clickable space doubling, advertisers can now make every extra character count, extending their clients’ emotion-evoking stories, descriptive product features, and compelling promotions. No longer will advertisers feel that they have to exclude important information in their descriptions. Google has offered advertisers the perfect chance to reinvent their messaging in search, not just add meaningless text to fill space. Advertisers will now be able to utilize ads even more to their advantage and target potential customers more accurately than ever. ETAs provide additional opportunities for advertisers to connect with users and drive more qualified leads.

Does character limit really affect clicks?

Charles River Interactive (CRI) has already started rolling out ETAs amongst clients, and the results are very promising. Within a month of running the new ETA’s for one client, CRI found that click-through-rate (CTR) for the expanded ads was 53% higher than that of the remaining standard ads. With the same client, CRI analyzed that conversions also increased and the average cost per conversion for expanded ads was 41% lower than that of standard ads. Other early reports indicate that ETA’s increase CTR by 20% on average. So, from what we can tell, the expanded ads are having a positive effect all around for advertisers.

Google Expand Ad Text

What other changes are being made?

Along with expanded descriptions and headlines, expanded text ads in AdWords will also now automatically pull the display URL from the final URL. Advertisers will then be able to add up to two optional paths to boost the display URL, both of which can be up to 15 characters long. These paths offer another opportunity for strategizing which allow advertisers to add short terms to describe to users what they will find on their landing page, and show them that it’s exactly what they were looking for, enticing them to click even more.

New Expanded Text Ad Google

When will ETA go into effect?

Previously, Google had announced that all ads had to be switched from standard to expanded format by the end of October, but this past week, this deadline was pushed back a few more months to January 31, 2017. While this may seem like a while away, this extra time shouldn’t be ignored, and it’s smart to get a head start before advertisers and clients are rushed to write and approve all new copy. This additional extension also gives agencies, advertisers and clients extra time to strategize on how they want to implement these changes. Have clients been able to say what they want in their ads, or do they get cut off? It’s important that all advertisers consider how this may affect their brand – and how they want to use the new characters to tell more about their brand story and products.

Interested in learning more about marketing trends? Check out Charles River Interactive’s blog View from the Charles:

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Facebook launches Canvas: Mobile Interactive Full Screen Ads

Facebook’s newest mobile ad creation is Canvas, which debuted at the Cannes Lions advertising festival in France, had a brief beta period and was recently made available to all Facebook advertisers using Power Editor.

With Facebook Canvas, advertisers are able to provide users with a full screen interactive rich media ad experience that lives within the Facebook app.

How It Works

Facebook Canvas ads exist only within Facebook’s popular mobile app.

Canvas ads appear to users as normal sponsored posts in their news feed. When users click on a Canvas sponsored posts, it expands, taking over the users’ full screen, immersing them into the rich content.

According to Facebook “You can easily build your Canvas using a combination of videos, still images and call-to-action buttons. In Canvas, people can swipe through a carousel of images, tilt-to-view panoramic images and zoom in to view images in detail.”

Initial Results

Canvas’ beta release was limited to well-known global brands including Carnival Cruise Lines, Wendy’s, Target, BMW and Macy’s.

In their first Canvas campaign, Carnival Cruise Lines targeted a broad audience of newcomers to cruising. TechCrunch provided some initial overall metrics, reporting that “53% of users that open a Canvas, view at least half of it, and the average view time is a stunning 31 seconds. The top Canvas ads can see more than 70 seconds of view time per user.”

Digiday reported that “Carnival said that 50 percent of people who opened the ad scrolled through until the end. Also, the average time spent with the ad was between 135 seconds and 174 seconds, longer than the ad’s running time of two minutes.”

Wendy’s Deconstructed Cheeseburger Canvas ad let people scroll, swipe, and see GIFs of different ingredients received 65 seconds of average view time. 2.9% of viewers even got all the way to the bottom and used the Wendy’s restaurant locator.

Why We Love It

  1. Increase Brand Awareness: For branding and awareness campaigns attention and engagement are top priorities. Facebook Canvas gives companies and brands the ability to create an immersive experience that grabs 100% of a user’s attention. The level of engagement driven by Canvas ads is unparalleled across social media platforms.
  2. Enhanced Mobile Experience: Facebook Canvas ads are designed for and run exclusively on mobile, so it only makes sense that the Canvas ads are fast to load and are very user friendly.
  3. Standard Advertising rates apply: Facebook Canvas ads run as sponsored post ads and there are no additional costs associated to run them. Advertisers will be able to use the same pricing and bidding models available for standard Facebook ads.
  4. Content Marketing Opportunities: With all the hype around content marketing, Canvas ads are like delivering small websites to your consumer’s thumbs. Great content nudges consumers closer to conversion goals.
  5. Higher Engagement: With Canvas’ advanced visual features you can create an immersive storytelling experience, translating into long consumer engagement and higher conversion rates.
  6. Ecommerce made easy: With Canvas you can add more details, including full product catalogs and even Buy Now CTAs.

Interested in learning more, contact your Charles River Interactive Account Manager, or check out Facebook’s official site for Canvas.

Interested in learning more in social media trends? Read more from our blog, View from the Charles:
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Google SERP News: Right Rail Ads are Gone

As of Monday, Google has confirmed a huge adjustment to search results: right hand rail ads are disappearing.

Last week, on Feb. 18, a dramatic increase in SERPs (marketing lingo for Search Engine Results Pages) with four ad positions, as well as a slow but noticeable decline in right rail placement, led many PPC leaders to question if the change was finally happening. Hinted at last December, when Google began beta testing four ad SERPs alongside Shopping PLAs across a very limited number of results, this update is a game-changer for search engine marketing as a whole.

Why is Google Removing Right Rail Ads?

Google claims the new layout will help searchers find (read: click on) more relevant and engaging content. But the change suggests an effort by Google to standardize the advertising ecosystem across all devices – mobile, desktop, and tablet – by serving the same number and style of ads in the top results. While this makes room for a variety of right rail results such as Knowledge Panels and Shopping PLAs on desktop, the effects on paid advertisers will be swift and global.

Google SERP Before

Google SERP Before

Google SERP After

Google SERP After


Top 3 Changes in Google’s New Ad Layout

So what do the changes mean for paid search? Here are the most dramatic potential changes:

  1. Cost-Per-Click Increases: With the number of paid advertisements decreasing, competition for those top spots just got hotter. The potential for a rise in CPCs across all SERPs is a possibility, as companies compete for an even smaller advertising space. Not to mention the effects of bidding for a top 4 spot, only to find oneself in spot no. 5, now at the very bottom of the first search result page.
  2. Higher Competition for fewer Ad Spots: While adding a fourth spot is good, total paid listings has decreased from approximately 10 to 7.   This puts even more pressure on appearing in those top four spots.
  3. Less Above-the-Fold Real Estate for Organic Results: An additional ad pushes all organic listings further down a page already chock full of PPC, Google My Business results and Local Packs. While overall organic strategy shouldn’t see any seismic shifts, there is opportunity to adjust SEO tactics to focus on long-tail term optimizations (in addition to more competitive ad-filled SERP keywords), so that your business can continually increase traffic from all positions in the search funnel.

How does the Google Ad Layout Impact Paid Search?

It’s estimated that 85 percent of clicks came from the top ads and only about 15 percent came from the side and bottom ads.  The data shows that right rail ads have a much lower likelihood of a click regardless of position, and the fight has always been for top three spots.

So now we’ll have an extra spot to bid for, as well as shopping PLAs and Knowledge Graphs on desktop (when applicable). Quality Scores and efficiencies will be more important than ever, and other factors such as search relevancy and ad copy, are expected to become increasingly more influential in advertisers’ ability to efficiently maintain position in the top four ad spots, while successfully driving traffic to their site.

Google is telling us loud and clear that good, relevant ads will be rewarded with coveted top positions for an affordable price. All you have to do is listen!

Interested in learning more in paid search and SEO trends? Read more from our blog, View from the Charles:
How to Launch Smarter Campaigns with Google Customer Match
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How to Launch Smarter Campaigns with Google Customer Match

Customer Match gives advertisers an incredible new tool that allows them to leverage their own CRM data to target with pinpoint accuracy and deliver extremely relevant messaging to existing and potential customers.

As an agency we started getting familiar with this concept through Facebook’s Audience Targeting, which gives advertisers the ability to upload their email lists into the Facebook Ads platform, and serve ads to users on those lists. We’ve seen some great successes with clients across a number of industries, so we’re very excited that something similar will be available within Google.

How Does Google Customer Match Work?

Customer Match creates targeted lists for campaigns across Google-related channels: Google Search, YouTube and Gmail. You upload your customer information, such as e-mail addresses, and this tool helps you build customized experiences for them.

Here are the basics of how it works:

  • Advertisers create marketing lists based on customer data
  • AdWords matches Advertiser’s email addresses to Google accounts
  • Target ads reach audiences across devices and channels

Benefits of Google Customer Match

Customer Match can serve multiple marketing objectives. Among its key benefits, you could use it to:

  • Generate awareness: Announce a new product to past purchasers
  • Influence consideration: Serve ads to lapsed customers or users with empty carts
  • Drive Purchases: Take advantage of cross selling and upselling to existing customers
  • Increase Loyalty: Present enticing offers to your most valuable customers

How We Use Customer Match at Charles River Interactive

We’ve helped a number of our clients get a jump on advertising with Customer Match already. Some examples include:

  • A non-profit client looking to drive holiday card sales using a list of past donors. Paired with holiday card keywords, this list will serve as a remarketing list for search ads to previous donors searching for holiday cards.
  • An ecommerce client selling automotive accessories is using Customer Match to serve Gmail Sponsored Ads to past purchasers based on the make and model of vehicle they have previously purchased
  • We are working with a number of our higher education clients to build a strategy designed to drive deposits from accepted undergraduate students. Using a customer match will allow these institutions to continue their conversation with perspective students through search, Gmail sponsored ads and on YouTube.

Interested in learning more about SEO and paid search trends? Read more from our blog, View from the Charles:

Mobile Search Updates: Why You Need a Mobile Website

Why Do You Need a Mobile Website?

With technology constantly growing and advancing, the average website now receives approximately 60% of its traffic from a mobile device.[1]  Google reports that 94% of people with smartphones search for local information on their phones and 77% of mobile searches occur at home or work, places where desktop computers are most likely to be present. In 2014, the number of mobile users surpassed the number of those using a desktop. These statistics confirm the growing popularity and need for a company’s mobile presence online, including the need for a well-constructed mobile website.

Number of Global Mobile Users

Updates to Mobile Search

In April 2015, Google will introduce mobile-friendliness as part of their search algorithm. This update will put emphasis on sites designed for mobile search and give priority to these pages in search results.

Google has also made a number of display updates for mobile search results, including separating results with a colored line
and app indexing, where users will be served a link to a previously downloaded app if appropriate. Google now labels mobile friendly websites directly within search results. Having this label may help increase click through rates, as users know a mobile friendly website is more likely to load quicker and will be easier to navigate on their device. You may also see the word “slow” next to websites with long page load times.

Google also has available a Mobile Usability report within Webmaster Tools and a PageSpeed Insights tool for mobile sites. This is a great start for understanding where your website currently stands in terms of mobile usability.

What is a Mobile Website?

The most common type of mobile website uses a “responsive design.” A responsive design website is a single website coded to “respond” to the device of a user. With this design, the website can adapt by changing the width of columns, text size, button spacing, etc. to offer optimal mobile viewing for the user.

Responsive Design Options

Another type of mobile website is the “M.” site (m.site.com), which creates a separate mobile website. These sites are becoming less popular as they often provide a poor user experience and require much more coding to maintain. Mobile-only pages also need to build up their own reputation (content, links, etc.) because they do not receive shared indexing signals from an existing desktop version of the page.


[1] http://smallbiztrends.com/2014/07/online-traffic-report-mobile.html


Welcome to Google My Business

Since its launch in 2011, there has been reluctance among many marketers and non-marketers to embrace Google+ as a preferred social platform.  Any mention of Google+ is usually met with an eye roll and the common (often-rhetorical) question: ‘Who even uses Google+?’ What has been lost on some, however, has become an advantage for others, considering the Google-owned social network functions hand-in-hand with local search and organic search display.

You can find local search influence in the Google Carousel, Google Maps, and on mobile devices – all three pull from Google+ and local search.

Google+ commands 300 million users and influences 43% of all Google searches with local query intent. Since the early years of Google’s social network, there have been several updates to increase ease of use. Previously known as Google Places, which became Google+ Local, the platform evolved last week to become Google My Business.  The recent launch of Google My Business has changed the way we utilize Google products through the successful integration of social, search, and maps, all of which provide a better experience for customers worldwide (Google My Business is available in 236 countries and 65 languages).

Two of the most important updates in Google+ evolution are the improved user experience and cleaner dashboard operating system, as Local SEO experts have been bemoaning both for years. Google took notice and delivered a strong solution with Google My Business.

Google My Business Updates – in plain English