Back in August of 2021 Google announced that advertisers will no longer be able to create Expanded Text Ads, or ETAs for short, starting in July of 2022. This leaves search advertisers with responsive search ads, or RSAs. This article will walk through how we got here, why Google is making this change, and how advertisers can best optimize their search ads in the wake of these changes.
The History of Search Ad Types
Expanded text ads were introduced by Google back in Q2 of 2016 to replace the standard text ads. At the time this was heralded as a big change allowing advertisers to increase their text limits 2x! This increased text limit allowed advertisers to shift away from short succinct messaging to longer messages that play on the searcher’s emotions. These changes also increased visibility of ads in the search results pages along with click through rates.
In Q3 of 2018, Google introduced responsive search ads to run alongside expanded text ads. RSAs were introduced with machine learning in mind. As opposed to expanded text ads, where advertisers select specific headline and description combinations, responsive search ads used machine learning to pair headline and description combinations to show to searchers. This allowed Google to serve the best message to the right user at the right time when searching.
Why is Google getting rid of ETAs?
Google states that 15% of search queries every day are new searches that have never been seen before. Responsive search ads, with their dynamic headlines & descriptions, make it easier for advertisers to automatically match the right message to the right searches being done each day. To prove that point Google states that, “advertisers that switch from expanded text ads to responsive search ads, using the same assets, see an average of 7% more conversions at a similar cost per conversion.” Google hopes that just using Responsive Ads should help make it easier to create search ads and drive performance on their platform. Even though it is possible to continue running ETAs past July it is recommended that each ad group has at least one RSA.
What can advertisers do to optimize their RSAs?
To optimize RSAs start by improving the ad strength. Ad strength shows how well an ad follows best practices for performance according to Google. Ways to improve ad strength are adding more headlines, including popular keywords in headlines, and a few other things. Google states that advertisers that improve their responsive search ads from poor to excellent see 9% more clicks and conversions on average.
Next, pin important headlines and descriptions in RSAs. Not being able to have full control over ads is one downside to losing ETAs. RSAs make up for this with pins. Pinning a headline or description ensures it shows up when the ad is served. Pinning is usually used for information such as an upcoming sale dates or important ad text. It is recommended to pin 2-3 options to a position.
Lastly, analyze Google Ads data with assets and combination reports. The asset report can shine light on headlines and descriptions that are performing well or poorly. The combination report can show which combination of assets are showing the most, and which are not and could be updated. It is recommended that RSAs run for at least 2 weeks before acting on any information in these reports. Responsive search ads usually need around 5,000 impressions in the “Google Search: Top” segment over 30 days to display a rating in the asset report.
To wrap up, the removal of expanded text ads for responsive search ads is just another way Google is pushing for a more automated ad experience, and for the better. Most times, such as the case with smart bidding strategies, Google’s machine learning improves performance of campaigns and allows paid advertisers to do other work to improve an account. If you are looking to improve the performance of your Google Ads account and read some of our other blog articles or contact our team of specialists today!