Jason Puckett

August 10, 2016

How to AB Split Test AdWords Expanded Text Ads

AdWords Expanded Text Ads must be AB split tested. This guide will tell you how to AB test these new expanded ads and how this differs from your current AB testing methods. AdWords has released Expanded Text Ads to all accounts, we are now left to look at our data and determine which creative options will work best. But how?

Ok…let’s look at which variables are now available:

AdWords Expanded Text Ads

We now have an additional 45 characters and 3 variables which we did not possess prior to this release.

Step 1: Identify & Test The Goal of Your Headlines

The creative within each headline should have a goal. This could be cutting through the noise, explanation of offering, standing out or promotion.

Headline 1: Use Search Terms + Explain Your Offering

  1. AB Test how the text is structured. Keywords at the beginning or end. Using symbols, punctuation and phrasing.
  2. AB Test the offering or value proposition itself. Test the actual message! Not just how it appears in the delivery.

Headline 2: Break Through The Noise - Ad Appearance

  1. Using numbers is a great way to make your ads stand out on the page and build credibility. Find a numeric value that stands out visually (we used “6,000,000+” below) and a metric that will impress your potential customers.

  2. Test which metric you use. % vs $ vs. number of days, etc.

Test the order of your ad language. Try switching the text you use in H1 and the H2. See which language works best in each place.

AdWords Expanded Text Ads

Step 2: Test Your Path 1 and Path 2

The pathway you select for your Display URL, may convey a few different things to the searcher. Reliability, ad relevance, how “up to date” you are and whether or not they would like to click.

Use the Search Terms as the Path

In the above example our search term is “Testing Expanded Ads”. We have used these search terms, in order, in the pathway of our display URL. Shown as:


Doing this has a twofold impact:

  1. Improve Google’s interpretation of the ad’s relevance. We have found that under the old ad format, using search term in your Display URL has the largest impact on ad relevance when compared to any other variable within the ad. We have no reason to believe this will vary for ETAs.

  2. Improve how the searcher interprets your ad.

Test “Search Term Path” vs. Actual Website Path

We encourage all advertisers to explore whether or not using a web pathway that actually exists as the Display URL makes a difference. We know that the root URL must exist, but the Path 1 and Path 2 are open to creative interpretation.

Let’s say our Display URL Path 1 and Path 2 look like this…


But our Final URL is actually…


Would the extreme variance in our Paths vs. Final URL lead to high bounce rates? Even though the content on the page may be relevant, do disjointed URL pathways cause a decrease in Conversion Rate? That would be a great first test to run within your account.

Step 3: Benchmark Against Your Standard Text Ads

We have been benchmarking all of our ETAs against our standard ads for two reasons:

  1. Prediction- We want to know if a higher percentage of traffic is going to AdWords ads (rather than to organic search). If we have specific keywords that we always rank #1 for (in SEM), and now are getting a higher CTRs, it makes sense for us to invest a higher dollar amount in ETAs rather than organic search. We can also predict revenue increases as a result of the associated increase in traffic.

  2. Understand Creative Differences Between ETAs and Standard Ads - More text probably means more traffic, this isn’t up for debate. You need to know what worked in your old ads but doesn’t work now. And vice versa. Something you used in your D1’s previously, many not work in your Headline 2. The permutations of this can be overwhelming, but there are tools to help automate the process, AdBasis is one of them.

Step 4: Automate What You Can

AdBasis now fully supports Expanded Text Ads. This can be used for scaled/dynamic roll outs of new ad copy. And then testing that ad copy.

We'd love to hear from you! Email us at: Hello@AdBasis.com

Have a question for us? We'd love to hear from you!

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