What are Text Ads and Why It's Beneficial to Use Them | BFO

January 21, 2020

6 Minute Read

The evolution of the Google Display Network (GDN) and banner ads have made adding images and graphics to ads much easier. This is huge for marketers as people process images 60,000 times faster than text with researchers finding “visual support” increases persuasiveness by 43%.

Figures like these might suggest it’s time to abandon the basic text ad. Nothing could be further from the truth. Text ads are here to stay. Here’s why…

What Are Text Ads?

Text ads feature text and text links that marketers use to promote their brand, message and products. Text ads are as old as marketing itself (think of the “Want Ads” in newspapers) but today text ads generally refer to the text-only ads used in PPC advertising.

Here’s how Google – still the biggest player in PPC marketing right now – defines a text ad:

“a form of marketing communication that advertisers can use to promote their product or service on the Google Network.”

For Google, text ads appear on search results pages and throughout the “Google Network,” including search partners, Search Network and Display Network.

Google isn’t the only platform where text ads make sense. Bing does. So does Facebook and LinkedIn.

Why is it Beneficial to Include a Text Ad?

Yes, text ads guarantee maximum coverage since not all publishers accept all ad formats, meaning a campaign featuring only visual ads could limit exposure.

There’s no question visuals like graphics and images enhance the impact of ads. The thing is, your ad has no impact if it doesn’t show, right?

Additional Benefits of Text Ads

In addition to ensuring your ads are shown, other benefits of text ads include:

  • Easy to launch. Without a need for graphic design or managing images, text ads only need copy and links to current web pages or landing pages.
  • Simple A/B testing. As you only rely on copy, you can set up different copy in ads to see which gets the better response.
  • Allows for more copy than a display banner and more flexibility to change the messaging at any given point
  • Translates well on both mobile and desktop. Now that Google has moved to mobile-first indexing, text ads offer a consistent transition between the two platforms, further ensuring your ads reach our audience, regardless of which device they use.

Where Are Text Ads Shown?

Unless Google makes a dramatic change to the search engine results page (SERP), text ads will appear at the top of SERP, a key location for ads. Ads can also show on the GDN where, as indicated, publishers may not support your visual ad.

In fact, the Google FAQ on expanded text ads includes:

Are expanded text ads available for Display Network Campaigns?

The answer is yes. You can create new ads in the GDN or copy them from your search campaigns.

What is the Google Display Network?

The GDN consists of:

  • Websites that show Google ads
  • YouTube and YouTube videos
  • Gmail
  • Mobile devices and apps

In addition to text ads, the other ad types you can show on the GDN include:

  • Responsive Display ads. With these ads, you can enter text, images and logo with Google combining them, optimized to maximize performance.
  • Uploaded image ads. You create ads and upload them as graphics or HTML5.
  • Engagement ads. Image and video ads can be uploaded and shown where accepted on YouTube or the Display Network.
  • Gmail ads. These ads can be expanded and appear at the top of user inboxes.

While these elements comprise much of Google Network, there is a simple reality brands need to accept: Unless you know for absolute certain your audience only visits sites that support image and video, text ads are essential to ensure maximum ad reach.

Quite Simply, Text Ads Are Here to Stay

Until there’s a change that mandates every publisher be capable of showing visual ads AND Google introduces visual ads at the top of the SERP, text ads are here to stay.

Fortunately, with the simplicity and low cost of text ads, it doesn’t make sense not to run them as a part of any ad campaign. Here’s what we recommend for getting the most from your text ads…

7 Tips on How to Create the Best Text Ads

Text ads may only be copy but there are several things you need to do to ensure your text ad attracts the audience.

  1. Feature a user-focused headline. With the new expanded text ads, you get three headlines. The headlines should speak to the problem facing the audience and introduce immediate benefits for them.
  2. Create a benefit-driven description. The description should expand the benefits introduced in the headline and lead into the landing page the ad links to.
  3. Leverage the Display URL. The URL displayed isn’t the actual URL, but should tell the user what to expect when they click the link.
  4. Include keywords. Target keywords should be present in your headline, description, Display URL and in Ad extensions.
  5. Customize ad extensions. Ad extensions boost clicks and should be customized based on device type. These extensions can communicate information and/or connect to pages on your site. Mobile devices, for example, should include call information (as relevant), while desktop may not feature those site links. Extensions can include:
  • Links to pages on the site
  • Location / map
  • Call / phone # information
  • Links to apps
  • Ratings
  • Promotions
  1. A message-consistent landing page. Your ad should link to a landing page that matches the promise of the ad, expands the value and offers a direct and clear CTA.
  2. Test everything. A/B testing is essential – and easy! – with text ads. Test always and often to find the best copy and message that connects with your audience.

Embrace Text Ads and Drive Campaign Success to the Next Level

The ability to use graphics and images in online ads has increased the potential impact and branding efforts of digital marketing campaigns. While the value of visual ads cannot be overstated, the importance of including text ads cannot be overstated either.

Text ads fill the gap where display and banner ads won’t work or are not accepted. 

Although they offer many benefits, perhaps the one that makes them an integral part of every campaign is that they ensure you reach the largest audience possible. For this reason alone, text ads aren’t going anywhere soon.

Curtiss Gulash - Director, Paid Media

Curtiss Gulash

When Curtiss is not being a Brewmeister, brewing amazing craft beers at Big Cat Brewing Company, in Cedar, Michigan, he is BFO’s Paid Media Team Lead with a specialty in marketing automotive brands. Curtiss is known for his super-human energy and loves taking a project from start to completion. He understands the world of digital media through and through and manages to juggle multiple curveballs, be a terrific team player, and a super coach to his staff.