What? Google is expected to remove the expanded text ad (ETA) format, which was a staple of Google Ads for many years.
An Expanded Text Ad is a static ad format. It includes up to three headlines concatenated with a vertical bar (|) and a description.
A Responsive Search Ad is Google’s newest, most flexible ad format. You can add up to 15 different headlines and 4 descriptions. Google will then automatically test different combinations of headlines and descriptions to learn which perform best.
Some advertisers noticed that the option to create an ETA is no longer showing up in their Google campaigns. However, there is an option that lets you switch back to text ads on the responsive search ad (RSA) creation screen. Google is likely just testing the update for now.
Why? Google will phase out ETAs in favor of RSAs, which will allow it to use machine learning to predict the variations of titles and descriptions that will resonate best with your audience based on various factors. Also, RSAs may be making more money for Google. That is not necessarily best for advertisers.
In general, agency case studies have found that half their clients see better performance from RSAs, vs. the other half that see worse performance from RSAs compared to ETAs.
The good news is that RSAs are less work than ETAs, and they telegraph to the account manager what Google prefers (which is motivated by higher CTR, thus making it more money). They are also great for new accounts or new product/service categories where there has not yet been time to optimize.
If you can correctly balance better CTR with maintaining your conversion rate, then you can see better results from RSAs.
When? WebMechanix predicts that ETAs are going away sometime in 2021.
WebMechanix is seeing ETAs removed as a choice in its accounts. Switching back is still an option, but Google is burying the ability—you have to dig to find it.
Some team members are happy with the change since it means we no longer have to manage RSA and ETA formats separately.
What This Means for You
You should start transitioning from the use of ETAs to RSAs. Expect to have until the end of 2020. You’re probably getting alerts about it in your Google Ads account now.
If you just HAVE to have your extended text ads, you can “pin” a headline and a description, which prevents split-testing, effectively giving you an ETA out of an RSA. We recommend that you do this upon finding winning combinations to realize the outcomes of the automated testing that RSAs do.
We’ll keep you posted and share guidance on best practices as this update goes live.