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With the news that Google are rolling out expanded text ads (replacing the existing standard ads) across the entire AdWords platform from January 2017, this means AdWords practices will invariably change. Here’s what we know so far (mostly taken from the official announcement and from Wordstream.)

  • There are now two headlines (30 character limit each)
  • Both description lines have been merged into one (80 character limit)
  • The format for display URLs has changed to a root domain/path1/path2 format, with a 15 character limit on each path. The root domain is auto-filled from the final URL field.
  • It will not be possible to create old-style AdWords ads past January 31, 2017.

Here’s a comparison by Wordstream of the old vs. new ads next to each other:

text ads

The new ads are 140 characters long in total (Google taking cues from Twitter, perhaps…?) and are 47% larger than previously.

Here are some quick tips for optimising the new ads:

Title 1

Having your primary keyword in your title 1 is essential, and try to write with the title 2 in mind at the same time to ensure a good flow.

Title 2

AdWords will automatically insert a dash between your title 1 and 2, so bear this in mind and adapt your titles accordingly. The dash can make some title combinations read awkwardly! The 2nd headline field can be left blank, but we would recommend making the most of the on-screen real estate AdWords gives you.

URL path vs. final URL

Using both URL paths is advised; the display URL as with standard ads does not have to exactly match the final URL, but it does help to include a keyword as does ensuring there is overall relevance to the final page.


The description is a chance for you to expand your ad (the new limits are quite generous) and add extra USPs. Make sure you include a call to action (CTA) in each description to entice visitors to click through.

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General tips:

Capitalise each initial letter in a word, this has been shown to improve click-through rates.

Try to have one keyword per ad group, and 2-3 expanded ads per ad group to enable ad rotation and optimisation for clicks.

You can use the Expanded ads preview tool at Karooya to give you a mobile-centred preview of your new ads.

Excel functions

For those not wishing to use the AdWords Editor to create their new AdWords ads, there are several tricks in Excel you can use to make the process easier for bulk editing.


This much-undervalued Excel formula returns the number of characters in a text string, a helpful replacement to the visual editor in AdWords.

In the picture below for example, I’ve set up three cells with LEN formulas in for the two headlines and the description respectively, which allows me to see at a glance the character limits on the ad. This is particularly helpful on large campaigns where it may be necessary to apply some filters to find non-compliant ads.


This much-loved formula, used extensively in the SEO and internet marketing world, can help us with establishing multiple paths for ad URLs. In the example below, I’ve set up a concatenate formula in the “I” column that will combine the various text strings together in the preceding columns for me. There is also a simple =Cell reference in H4 to keep the calculation and path cells separate. When I’m done, I would copy and paste as text only in the H column as the cell content is otherwise dependent on another source.

Summing up

We’re excited about the new ads, and although the format does take a little getting used to (there’s nothing more annoying than hitting the character limit on one of the title fields!) when done correctly they can substantially improve your AdWords results.

If you’d like to learn more about how PPC can grow your E-commerce business, give the A51 team a call on 01904 215151 to find out how we can help you.

Hannah Pittman

Hannah Pittman

Hannah has 12 years’ experience in the marketing field, ranging from online and offline marketing to PPC Specialist roles in a variety of sectors from education to global online retailers. She joined Agency51 as a Senior Client Marketing Manager with a PPC specialism.

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