On Thursday, Google announced a new beta test on AdWords ads. Some selected text ads will be showing a longer headline. Google claims that their internal testing has found that the longer headlines increase click-through rates not only on the ads themselves, but the ads surrounding them.
Only ads that appear to have a complete sentence in description line 1 are eligible for the headline extensions. If you’re one of the lucky winners that gets an ad upgrade, your description line 1 will be moved up to the headline, separated by a hyphen from the original headline. Description line 2 and the display URL will appear as normal.
So what does this mean for the average PPC advertiser? First off, it’s important to mention that this isn’t the first ad doodad that Google has implemented to enhance their text ads. See location extensions, Google Checkout badges, and click-to-call numbers for a few examples. In my experience, nearly any add-on that distinguishes your ad from your competitors is going to increase your CTR a little bit. Hell, even ensuring that your keywords appear in your text ads (and being displayed in bold when a user’s search query appears in your ad) is usually enough to boost your CTR. But CTR isn’t everything. What are you going to do if those extra visitors don’t convert on your landing page? If your conversion rate sucks right now, then adding more clicks is just going to increase your cost per conversion. But if you have a high-quality landing page that is effective in driving conversions you could really benefit from a small-percentage jump in clicks on your ads.
To me, the most interesting part of this little experiment is the boost on adjacent ads. Sure, we all want a little something extra out of our own text ads, but is it worth it to give your competitors a boost as well? Maybe it’s just better to piggyback off of a competitor ad that gets the ad enhancement? You get some of the benefit for none of the work.
If you want to take advantage of this new ad feature, review your ad text and make sure your description line 1′s make sense on their own. Add a period to the end if you need to. This may be impossible for some of you advertisers with more complicated value propositions, but it’s worth a shot if you can swing it. Of course, only a few selected advertisers are eligible for this feature right now, but I expect that it will be rolled out to all AdWords accounts shortly.
Anybody seen one of these enhanced ads in their accounts yet? Any initial impressions?