I was about to write an update on our extended ‘Super ETAs’ test, when I saw AdWords display this message:
Notice how Google use the less cool name ‘additional description’ rather then my, frankly better, ‘Super ETAs’. I reckon they might have lasted longer with a better name.
Still, I had already pulled the data and, after some consideration, decided that a worthwhile blog could be written.
Super ETAs Results
Overall, the basic comparison data shows that there was a very marginal gain in CTR for the new extended format for both the Exact and BMM/Phrase campaigns. The exact version did also see a small improvement in both conversion rate and cost per conversion. The BMM campaign however, suffered quite big drops in both of these with the new ads.
Why Were They Stopped?
So far so obvious as to why the trial was stopped with no plans to continue. The extra real estate that the new format took up, meant less ads were viewable above the fold; especially by the time you get ad extensions in there as well. The impact this would have on CTR/CPC for each position is unclear as I did not see any SERPs that featured more than one of these types of ads. It is therefore hard to say whether CTR for positions three and four may be affected by a SERPs filled with these ad formats, relegating these ad positions further below the fold. The new ads also look weird due to one description finishing and the next starting like a new paragraph.
Our Ad Tactics
What is interesting is the different performance of the 2 ad tactics I tested. I tried two approaches to using the new extended description. First, I picked my best performing regular ETA and simply added a second description to it. Secondly, I rewrote the ads from scratch.
The extended versions improved on the original CTR but saw declining conversion rates and cost per conversions. This is in line with the overall picture. The new messaging saw a big decline in CTR, but an even bigger improvement in conversion rates/cost per conversions. Perhaps the messaging made it clearer who the service was for? Or that those who did decide to click through had more intention of converting? Interestingly, the extended messaging was shown considerably more than the new messaging, despite having ‘rotate indefinitely’ as the campaign setting.
By approaching the ads in a completely new way, we managed to increase conversion intent but lower CTR. I’m sure if we had more time to test new variations, we could have improved on the performance of these ads – especially when you remember that ETAs were also a struggle when they first appeared. These new Super ETAs were being tested against our best performing ETA. The original ad had been refined over several test cycles, so it isn’t really a surprise that they won out overall.
The gap in performance does not seem too far away from what we saw when we first tested ETAs, which makes me think the decision to pull them after a relatively short test might be more to do with how they appeared in the SERPs and the effect on user experience. I only ever saw a handful in the wild, but every time I thought they looked odd and out of place. Whilst this is sometimes a good thing in attracting attention, the actual results, and ultimately Google’s decision to pull them, suggests users thought otherwise.