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Google Ads Update: ETA'S vs. RSA's

Everything you need to know

Est. Read Time: 7 Minutes

Google has announced that as of June 30, 2022 they are sunsetting their Expanded Text Ads (ETAs), in favor of their Responsive Search Ads (RSAs). While some of you may be familiar with Responsive Search Ads and the AI capabilities they use to ensure users are getting the most effective ads served to them, we’re sure you also have some questions: Why is Google doing this? What does this mean for my existing ETAs? When do I need to make the switch? What are the best practices for switching from ETAs to RSAs?

We have you covered with the answers to all your questions and more - so keep reading.

Why is Google phasing out expanded text ads?

Google recognizes that your customers' online behavior is rapidly changing and evolving, and to successfully reach them you need to make sure that the ways you are targeting them are adapting too. Making it easy for your customers to connect with you through ads that are relevant and helpful to them is now more important than ever. In fact, Google suggests 15% of search queries they are seeing every day are completely new searches never seen before.

With that said, Expanded Texts Ads require manual optimization, which can be extremely time consuming and ineffective if done incorrectly. Therefore, automation is key to being able to keep pace with all of these new trends - that’s where Responsive Search Ads come in.

How do Responsive Search Ads work?

RSAs combine your creativity with the power of machine learning to help you show more relevant ads to more customers. New, automated tools will simplify the way you create Search Ads and make it easier for you to drive performance.

RSAs help you compete in a wider variety of relevant ad auctions by delivering ads that adapt to show the right message for the right query. This means that with Google’s help, you’ll be able to drive incremental conversions and create fewer ads - saving you time and money.

With RSAs, you provide multiple headlines and description options that Google mixes and matches for you, based on search queries and other proprietary data, in an effort to serve the most effective ads to users.

Google believes that RSAs are their largest and most flexible search ad format. When creating a responsive search ad you can write up to 15 different headlines and up to 4 different descriptions. Collectively, this information can be arranged in thousands of different combinations, which means RSAs testing possibilities are vast.

When will Google stop offering expanded text ads?

After June 30, 2022, you will no longer be able to create new or edit existing expanded text ads. However, your existing ETAs will continue to serve alongside any RSAs you create. You will be able to access all data and reports on their performance going forward, and you will also be able to pause and resume your ETAs or remove them. This update won’t affect the creation or editing of Call Ads and Dynamic Search Ads.

How should I begin the switch from ETAs to RSAs?

Although Google is rolling this update out soon, Responsive Search Ads are not yet able to completely replace Expanded Text Ads as they possess different capabilities.

Because of this, you should start now by adding a Responsive Search Ad to run alongside your existing Expanded Text Ads - do not delete any Expanded Text Ads at this time. The reasoning behind this is as you transition into a new ad format, by keeping your ETAs active you’ll be able to test the new Responsive Search Ads against them to ensure your ads are optimized and are appearing to your customers as often as possible, as RSA’s are designed to unlock additional ad inventory and auctions that ETAs cannot.

Google’s recommendation is to have at least one responsive search ad in every ad group for all active campaigns by June 30, 2022. For optimal results, the Google recommended setup is 2x ETAs and 1x RSA per ad group.

Steps for Success

After reading this, you’re probably wondering what you can do now to ensure that you don’t lose the traffic you’ve worked hard to generate, when this change happens in June. We’ve compiled as list of important steps to help you through this transition:

  1. Begin testing your ETAs now to see what really works well for you in terms of results. When June rolls around, you’ll be able to repurpose all of your high-performing content from your active ETAs and channel this into RSAs which will result in better ad strength. If you focus on your Ad strength for your new RSAs and optimize for ‘Excellent’, Google suggests you can see up to 9% more clicks and conversions on average.

  2. Plan and set up any new ETAs for future use. Because this option will disappear, it’s important to consider any ETA content you would like to keep for use in the future.

  3. You need to accept that your impressions will decline when this update launches. As RSAs launch, they will need time to learn and adapt to best serve you and your customers which will likely mean poor results.

  4. Create and Implement your Responsive Search Ads now. Run your RSAs for at least three months alongside your ETAs to establish a true picture of performance. This may also help to alleviate some of the decline in impressions, the further ahead you can create new RSAs, the more helpful this will be to your results.

  5. Use Ad Variations. This will help you to test different versions of your assets and review their performance across multiple campaigns.

  6. Set up reports with clear RSA benchmarks. Evaluate the success of your ads based on incremental impressions, clicks, and conversions your ad groups and campaigns receive. RSAs will help you qualify for more auctions, so ad-level performance and metrics that we’ve come to know for Expanded Text Ads such as CTR and Conversion Rate may not provide a full picture of performance. Google suggests measuring RSA performance based on absolute metrics like ad group impressions, clicks, and conversions as these metrics will show any incremental traffic being driven.

  7. Consider pinning your headlines strategically. If you have messaging you always want to be shown, pin your headlines or descriptions to specific positions in your RSAs. If you decide to do this, ensure you pin at least 2-3 options to a position. Alternatively, if you truly want Google to optimize for you, you don’t need to pin anything.

  8. Pair Broad Match Keywords and Smart Bidding with RSAs. Google suggests this combination can help to reach new, high-performing queries and optimize bids in real time. They claim that advertisers that switch from expanded text ads to responsive search ads, using the same assets, in campaigns that also use broad match and Smart Bidding see an average of 20% more conversions at a similar cost per conversion.

  9. Understand RSA reporting. As RSAs offer a more artificially intelligent and automated experience, their reporting features are much more limited when compared to ETAs which allow you to take a deep dive into your data. You’ll still be able to see your overall metrics, however if the ad is set up to be dynamic, you won’t be able to see which combination successfully generated the result, so bear this in mind.

While there are some pros and cons to this change as we outlined, Google feels this is the right move for their ad offerings and therefore, it’s important to make the most of the time you have before June 30th to set yourself up for success.

Embracing the new features such as dynamic learning and automated headlines will help you to optimize your campaigns, but don’t feel you have to relinquish all control to Google and what they view as ‘Best Practice’. What will really help you is testing the new features and learning now so that your campaigns can thrive when this change rolls out.


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