Everything to Know About Text Ads: Ad Specs, Best Practices, Examples & More

Last updated on by Stephanie Mialki in Advertising, Google Ads

Targeted, compelling text ads are essential to a high-performing PPC campaign, as they’re often the first point of contact a prospect has with your brand. People search for something, and your text ad shows up in the results.

The way you craft your ad determines if people click through to your website or landing page, so you better make it relevant and powerful.

Google text ads: An overview

A standard Google Ads text ad is made up of three main elements:

1. Headline

There are two required headline fields, and one optional, each with a 30 character limit. All headlines appear next to each other, separated by a vertical pipe (“|”), like this:

The headline may wrap to a second line, depending on the size of the user’s screen. For instance, this is a wrapped headline on a mobile screen:

2. Description

Google Ads allows two 90-character description fields, giving advertisers plenty of control over their ad’s messaging. Scorpion takes full advantage of both description fields in this example:

3. Display URL

The domain of your final URL is shown as your ad’s display URL. Display URLs are not active links, but they give search users an idea of where they’ll end after clicking the ad.

Below, the green “www.writingclasses.com/” next to the Ad indicator is the display URL, even though the final URL is https://www.writingclasses.com/classes/index:

Those are the basics but to create your most successful text ad, consider several of these best practices.

What makes a successful Google text ad?

Path fields in your display URL

Not only do path fields give prospects a better idea where they’ll end up, but the fields can also help increase your click-through rate because you can message match the keywords to their search query. Google offers advertisers up to two optional ”path” fields to the display URL. Each path can have up to 15 characters and is added to the display URL immediately following your website’s domain.

In this example, “www.marketing360.com/” is the domain, while “Doctor” and “Marketing” are the two path fields:

Note: Path fields don’t have to be part of your page’s URL, but they should at least be related to your landing page’s content.

Compelling ad copy

When writing text ad copy, keep these five main components in mind:

Ad extensions

True or false: Adding an extension to a text ad improves an advertiser’s Quality Score.

True.

Sitelink extensions, in particular, have shown to lift Quality Score by 8%, which in turn, can increase ad exposure and decrease cost-per-click. Ad extensions also typically increase CTR by several percentage points because they show prospects more information and extra incentive to choose your business.

Extension formats include:

Google Ads selects which extensions to show in response to each individual Google search. Therefore, it’s a good idea to use all extensions that are relevant to your business goals — especially since it doesn’t cost extra.

However, whether or not Google Ads shows your extensions depends on:

Mobile-optimization

All devices use expanded text ads, so there isn’t a device preference setting. However, a preview of your ad in both desktop and mobile format is generated during ad creation, so it’s your responsibility to optimize for both. This includes adding the appropriate extensions for each format.

For example, this same Percolate ad appears slightly different on desktop and mobile because the company optimized it accordingly. Notice how it only has sitelink extensions on desktop:

But it also has a call extension on mobile:

A dedicated landing page

Sending prospects to a landing page after clicking your ad is critical because that’s where the conversion happens. Be sure to follow landing page best practices — including message match — to decrease bounce rates and increase conversion rates.

See how well Periscope Data’s landing page matches their ad:

Some variation of “7-day free trial” is mentioned several times in both places: the ad headline, landing page headline, landing page copy, and lead capture form. People seeing this page have no doubts they are in the right place after clicking the ad.

A/B testing

As with any ad campaign, be sure to test variations to see which one performs the best. Create three to four variations for each ad group, with different messages, CTAs, etc. Google Ads will automatically rotate your ads to show the best-performing ads more often.

What other platforms support text ads?

Image-based platforms like Instagram, and even Facebook, don’t support text ads because text alone isn’t likely to stop users’ scrolling. With image ads, though, it’s still important to consider text. Facebook ad text includes text on top of a photo or illustration, text-based logos, watermarks used in an ad’s image, and text in thumbnail images used for videos. Their platform prefers image ads with less than 20% text, because any more than this may create a lower-quality user experience and even reduced impressions.

As far as platforms that do support text ads, look at Bing and LinkedIn.

Bing text ads

Bing text ads are similar to Google in that they are a mobile-optimized search ad format that enables advertisers to craft longer, more engaging ad copy. They also allow similar ad extensions, like this desktop ad with sitelink extensions:

And this mobile ad with price extensions:

Bing has specific word count and character limits:

But best practices for Bing text ads are similar to those of Google.

LinkedIn text ads

LinkedIn text ads show on the top or to the right of the feed on the homepage, profile pages, group pages, messaging page, My Network page, Who’s Viewed My Profile page, and search results page. They only appear on desktop:

Headlines have a 25-character limit, and descriptions have a 75-character limit, but the entire ad can be a variety of sizes:

Best practices are similar to Google and Bing:

Earn the click with text ads and more

To ensure prospects click through, you need to create targeted, compelling text ads. Part of creating the best ad is knowing the specs for each ad format. While this sounds overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be.

The Instapage digital advertising reference guide contains all of the dimensions, file formats, and sizes — everything you need to know to create compelling ads across all devices. Claim your copy today and build better text ads faster.