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Expanded Text Ads vs. ‘Standard’ Text Ads: Split Results

Published: November 14, 2016

Author: Kristin Nye

As we all know, Google (and now Bing) has added expanded text ads to the mix. As of January 31, 2017, we will officially have to adapt the new expanded text ads and will no longer be able to edit or add standard ads to our AdWords accounts.
We’ve all seen the articles published on how Expanded Text Ads are supposed to drive up performance, especially in terms of click-through rate, but how exactly are they affecting our impressions and overall volume? And are they affecting brand ads and non-brand ads the same?
We decided to A/B test standard ads versus Expanded Text ads and share what we learned*.
*This test ran for 28 days (October 4, 2016 – November 1, 2016) and was only done in Google.


  1. Brand impressions and CTR are heavily weighted towards Standard Ads, while non-brand impressions and CTR are heavily weighted towards Expanded Text Ads.

Although we set up our ads to rotate evenly, we saw that our brand ETAs captured only 39% of all brand ads shown, while our non-brand ETAs showed much more frequently than non-brand standard ads, around 59% of the time.
We also saw that our brand CTR was much stronger for our standard ads, while the non-brand  CTR was much higher for Expanded Text Ads.
After addressing this discrepancy with our Google rep, we were told that testing 3-5 different ETA copies would be the most beneficial to the account. This is so the system can do more ad rotation through the creative to determine which works best, even though our ad rotation is set to rotate evenly.

  1. Brand CPCs are higher in Expanded Text Ads, while non-brand CPCs are higher in Standard Ads.

On average, we saw that our brand costs per click were almost 20% higher for Expanded Text Ads than for Standard Ads.
For non-brand ads, there was also a significant difference in the CPCs for Expanded Text Ads versus Standard Ads. However, for non-brand ads, Expanded Text Ads had a lower CPC, almost 10% lower than CPCs for Standard Ads.

  1. Conversion Rate was slightly lower for ETAs

Although not yet statistically significant, we were able to come to the conclusion that our conversion rate was slightly higher for Standard Ads both in brand and non-brand campaigns. We will continue to gather data.


We were able to gain some major insights from this test – mainly, that overall Expanded Text Ads perform much differently in brand campaigns and non-brand campaigns. In brand campaigns, we saw higher impressions, a better CTR, and a lower CPC for standard ads, and for non-brand campaigns, we saw the exact opposite. The only metric that was pretty constant between brand and non-brand was conversion rate, and there we saw standard ads performing better.

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