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  • Writer's pictureJanina Key

Google Ads To Sunset Expanded Text Ads Next Year

Over the past few weeks you might have received an email or seen a little message appearing in your Google Ads that reads something like this:

A few years ago, Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) were the hottest new feature to use in Google Ads and replaced the shorter, standard text ads. As the name says, ETAs were larger than the old standard ads with three headlines and two description lines and overall more character length. Now the time has come to phase out ETAs and make space for not only even more text options but also more automation: with Responsive Search Ads (RSA).


What’s the difference between Expanded Text Ads and Responsive Search Ads?

First things first: to the user both ad formats look exactly the same with 2-3 ad headlines and 2 ad descriptions. The difference is how the ad is set up in your Google Ads account and how you can work with it. ETAs follow a ‘what you see is what you get’ principle and display your text ad the way you’ve set it up. RSAs, on the other hand, work like a ‘mix & match’ system. Rather than writing a complete ad, you provide up to 15 individual headlines and four descriptions which Google combines into different variations to test out the best performing combination.


Cartoon graphic of Google search ads on a laptop
Image source: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-bert-paid-search/336961/

Why should you switch to Responsive Search Ads now?

While RSAs have been around for a bit and are certainly no longer a novelty, surprisingly many advertisers haven’t made the switch to RSAs yet. There is no need to abandon ETAs altogether but if you haven’t set up a single RSA yet, it is time to get started. Here’s why:


Don’t wait until the last minute

After June 30 2022 you will no longer be able to edit your ETAs. They can remain active in your campaigns but when you create a new ad, it will by default be an RSA. While June next year sounds far away, familiarise yourself with this new ad format now rather than waiting until you have no other option and risk falling behind the competition.


Google prefers Responsive Search Ads over Expanded Text Ads

This isn’t a future scenario but it’s happening right now. Our clients’ campaigns at JK Digital currently use both ETAs and RSAs, so we can compare performance easily. We notice that RSAs typically have higher CTRs (click-through rates), more clicks and as a result, generate more conversions than ETAs. This is not only because Google experiments with your various ad copy options but also because they want you to adapt to this new ad format. We’ve seen a similar trend some years ago when ETAs replaced standard ads and the performance of the old ad format kept dropping until you really no longer wanted to keep them in your campaigns.


Take the chance to review your ad copy

Marketers often spend lots of time analysing their keyword data, targeting audiences but strangely, the ad message doesn’t get much attention. Creating new RSAs is a good opportunity to review your current ads’ performance, evaluate what worked or didn’t work well and test some new variations. Make use of the performance data you already have to filter out your top ad copy and combine them with new message ideas.


Use the benefits of automation

The most important benefit of RSAs is the automation factor that this ad format comes with. Instead of testing a pre-set combination of headlines and descriptions and then guessing which part captured the user’s attention and made them click, Google will do the work for you. 15 headlines and four descriptions allow for a lot of different ad combinations and Google quickly learns which combination works best for different user groups. In your account, you’ll see which text component performs well or poor and can adjust the individual part rather than exchanging an entire ad.


Conclusion

Responsive Search Ads are the future of ad formats and provide a range of benefits that Expanded Text Ads don't have. Get started by setting up one RSA per ad group and let it run alongside your existing ETAs. Step by step you can create more RSAs (Google recommends three per ad group) and you'll be ready to take your ad performance to the next level.


Still feeling a bit overwhelmed by these changes and not sure where to start? Contact us to schedule a call and we’re happy to help you bring your campaigns up to date.

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