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Are Expanded Text Ads really performing better? Optimisation difficulties?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

A theory about Expanded Text Ads: Google announced ETAs and told advertisers to start experimenting. Advertisers often ran ad tests in higher-traffic, higher-performing adgroups, to get results sooner without spending too much time.

Google follows up by collecting aggregate stats on the ETAs and comparing them to aggregate stats on legacy text ads. But they fail to recognise that the ETAs were not tested evenly throughout the typical account. Only appearing in higher-performing adgroups, their performance is artificially skewed if we make the serious statistical analysis mistake of comparing a special sample against an entire population.

Recently my own Google account manager gave me stats claiming ETAs were winning across my accounts. But at an adgroup level, the ETAs are not winning overall - particularly because they've under-performed with mobile users in some of my search categories. (My feeling so far is that ETAs may call for an increasingly segmented approach to writing ad copy for mobile vs desktop ads. But that's hard with no device control!)

Ad extensions further complicates this because it's hard to know whether you're comparing an ETA impression with a legacy ad impression both with similar or equivalent ad extensions, also affecting performance. A legacy ad that's showing multiple ad extensions is already a big, text-rich ad with typically higher overall CTR.

The core issue, though, is that comparing ETA and legacy ad performance is only practical and useful if you isolate/segment on device type. My tests so far show that device-segmented ad performance makes optimisation decisions for ETA vs legacy into a very difficult process that's sometimes not in favour of ETA. However, if ETAs had a device preference setting at the ad level then this would be much easier to go forward with.

(The option some people have floated, that we go back in time to when we used separate campaigns for all mobile traffic, seems like a bad outcome that unnecessarily doubles account management overhead.)

My message to Google is: Please, please, retain the option for legacy ads and give us ad-level device settings for ETAs.

Anyone else running into similar difficulties implementing and optimising ETAs?

Are Expanded Text Ads really performing better? Optimisation difficulties?

[ Edited ]
Participant ✭ ✭ ☆
# 2
Participant ✭ ✭ ☆

I see ETA's running circles around the old ad format in every account I've converted.  My opinion is that Google took away the Mustang and gave us a Lamborghini, which has some downsides. 

 

The new format requires more marketing skill and sophistication to deploy properly.  It gives the advertiser more latitude to convey their message.  I view the 80 character description field as a means to convey at least some of the punch of a landing page message, before a click is made (including screening out the wrong clicks, in some ads). /path1 and /path2 are great opportunities to establish relevancy by displaying the right keywords. And with TWO 30-character headlines, we have more latitude to state a clear value proposition and perhaps a call to action. However second headline may be suppressed or shortened on some devices so the first headline needs to be able to stand on their own. 

 

So as a sarcastic person once said, "they've given us more rope to hang ourselves with".  imho ETA is a more capable tool but it requires more skill in marketing and advertising copy to use it well.  As such I believe it is more difficult, requiring more skill to craft a great ad.  Additionally, the transition is not necessarily easy; it requires a complete re-think of the ad, done properly.  It is not just an administrative-level task that you can necessarily delegate to the summer marketing major intern, without some training and supervisionSmiley Happy 

 

Anyway they are out-performing the traditional ads in all my campaigns I've converted, on all ad types.  I do not believe Google, which is a highly rational company that is data driven to the extreme, would ever have made a change this momentous without very sound evidence that it is going to work out better for advertisers.

 

My two cents!  I'm sure others will have different valuable perspectives as well. 

Are Expanded Text Ads really performing better? Optimisation difficulties?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 3
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Wow, Steve that's quite a pitch for ETAs.

I think my post was overdone with "I have a theory" etc. I'm not an AdWords conspiracy theorist or climate denialist. And i know Google is full of smart people.

With ETAs, I'm not seeing the results. And above all I find the loss of device control inhibits optimisation, a lot.

 

Are Expanded Text Ads really performing better? Optimisation difficulties?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 4
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

I'm managing about 20 high spend accounts and CPAs are worse across the board with ETAs. In some cases I'm even seeing HALF the CPA of the ETAs on legacy ads. We've decided as an agency that we will keep legacy ads as long as possible - especially because they are a bit more discrete on mobile vs taking up 3/4 of the screen and people caught on long ago. Conspiracy? Maybe.