The Future of Search: Bidding Adieu to Expanded Text Ads

By: Hileman Group  | 07/15/2022


The ways people search for products and information are constantly evolving.

To flex its automated muscles and help keep up with the ever-changing shift of consumer trends and search queries, Google is making changes to its search offering platforms—namely its Expanded Text Ads (ETAs).

Beginning July 2022, advertisers will no longer be able to create new or edit existing ETAs. That means Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) will be the only standard search campaign you can create moving forward.

But what does that actually mean for advertisers and the future of search ad creation? And what kinds of changes should you be making now to ensure your account doesn’t take a big hit in July?

Let’s first give a little “search-ad background” so we know what we’re dealing with. 
 

What are Expanded Text Ads?

Introduced at the Google Performance Summit in May, 2016 Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) were created as a way to help advertisers adapt to a mobile-first world. 2x bigger than original text ads, ETAs helped maximize performance with bigger headlines and longer descriptions.

In the beginning, ETAs allowed two 30-character headlines and one 80-character description line. This was replaced in 2018 with three 30-character headlines and two 90-character description lines. However, only two headlines and one description were required.

ETAs give advertisers more control over content and how it’s displayed. Unlike Responsive Search Ads (RSAs), ETAs aren’t required to be combinable and allow you to choose which text assets to use in the headlines and the descriptions.
 

What are Responsive Text Ads?

Launched by Google in 2018, Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) are designed to work with ETAs and let you create flexible ads that adapt to device widths to show more text to potential customers. They allow you to show up to three 30-character headlines, a display URL with two 15-character path fields, and up to two 90-character description fields.

The more headline and description options you provide, the more opportunities Google Ads has to test out combinations and determine which perform the best (matching queries and improving ad performance).

When creating RSAs, it’s important to remember that the assets entered can be shown in any order—so they need to make sense both individually and combined. Google Ads will automatically test different combinations for relevance, but it’s up to you to make sure they work together in all shapes and forms.
 

ETAs... RSAs...IYKYK

There has been growing concern about the ETA fade out because many feel switching to RSAs limits advertiser control of their ads—making many feel “powerless.” Search Engine Land calls the sunsetting of ETAs Google’s “push to automation through their products.”

But, it’s important to look on the bright side and remember that after June 30th, any existing ETAs will continue running and you will still be able to report on their performances. While you can’t edit or change them, you can pause, resume, or remove them entirely—it’s totally up to you.

Sylvanus Bent, Product Manager of Google Ads says, “Your existing expanded text ads will continue to serve alongside responsive search ads, and you’ll still see reports on their performance going forward. Additionally, you’ll be able to pause and resume your expanded text ads or remove them if needed.”

That being said, there’s no better time than the present to take advantage of the bells and whistles ETAs have to offer before they’re gone, including:

  • A/B Testing– run different ad copy to see what performs best. Take note of metrics and performance and weed out the ones that aren’t really doing it for you.
  • Beefing up your ETA arsenal – while you can’t create new ads after June 30th, existing ads will continue to run. Create and place as many ETA combinations into your account as you see fit for your business. You don’t have to start them immediately, but with them already existing, they’ll be ready to go when you are.

It’d also be a good idea to hop on board the RSA train so you’re mentally prepared (as prepared as you can be) for what the future of search will be like.

  • Start using RSAs – get acclimated with RSAs, how they work, how to set them up, and their overall functionality.
  • Pin Strategically – RSAs give you the option to pin certain headlines and descriptions. Think through your copy and pin components to ensure all ad variations have a call to action in place.
  • Create ETA Doppelgängers – you can technically make an ETA by strategically pinning copy components in an RSA…but it’s better to adapt and evolve with where the future of search is going versus trying to implement workarounds to hold onto the past.

Ready or not, the change from ETAs to RSAs is coming. But, there’s no reason to panic. Give Hileman Group a call and let us help ensure your business is best positioned to succeed with where the future of search is headed. 


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