Ads you see on Google today are quite a bit longer than how they were when they were first introduced. Back in the day, Google only gave us one 25-character headline, and two very punchy ad descriptions with 35 characters each. In 2016, Google introduced the “expanded text ad”, which gave advertisers a lot more wiggle room to construct their copy. Today, we get three 30-character headlines and two 90-character descriptions. It’s a nice way for advertisers, especially in the B2B space, to convey more complicated concepts that are crucial to articulating a brand’s story. We still have to think about simple ways to convey these concepts, as the ads are clearly not limitless in terms of character count — but they’re also not as painfully restrictive as they used to be.
This character allotment expansion also helps advertisers to create more robust ads, thus improving click-through rates (CTRs). However, the functionality of the expanded text ad itself isn’t fundamentally different from Google’s original formats; everything is still static. Expanded text ads are uploaded and aired more or less exactly as the advertiser intended. Google makes minor adjustments here and there on the advertiser’s behalf — perhaps dropping one of the three headlines or one of the two ad descriptions if there isn’t enough ad space on a Google search result page to accommodate them all. But the cores of the ads, and the order in which these elements would appear, don’t change.
For Google’s new responsive ads, the character allotment for headlines and descriptions is staying the same but its functionality is changing quite a bit. Google Ads will no longer be static; they will be dynamic moving forward. Advertisers can now upload a multitude of headlines (up to 15) and description ideas (up to four), but Google will mix and match these different elements algorithmically depending on what they think is most likely to boost CTR on a searcher-by-searcher basis.