September 9, 2021

Google Is Phasing Out Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) in 2022: What This Means for Advertisers

In case you missed it, Google announced earlier this week that Expanded Text Ad Creation is going away after June 2022. While the timeline has taken some SEO professionals by surprise, many of them aren’t too shocked by the change, as Google had already swapped the default ad creation type to Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) back in February of this year.

What are Expanded Text Ads?

In a nutshell, expanded text ads are similar to the online ads you’re used to seeing, but with a few twists. They’re twice as large as standard text ads and can contain up to three headline fields, with each separated by a vertical pipe (“|”):

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The headlines state what is offered, and the extra text works to showcase what users should expect. They were designed as a way for advertisers to maximize their presence on mobile search results using bigger headlines and descriptions. This is because anything that works well on mobile is all but guaranteed to work well on desktop. In today’s mobile-first world, this meant that expanded text ads became a fun tool for advertisers to increase click-through rates (CTRs).

Why is Google phasing out Expanded Text Ads?

To put it simply, Google is making the change to simplify the way advertisers create Search Ads, noting that the change should make it easier to drive performance with automated tools. Data shows that consumer trends and search queries are shifting, so in Google’s eyes, phasing out ETAs for responsive search ads makes sense, as it should help advertisers to show more relevant ads to more people. RSAs can be created dynamically at the time-of-auction to respond to specific search queries, meaning that responsive search ads should allow advertisers to continue driving incremental conversions, just with fewer ads needed.

What does the Expanded Text Ad change mean?

In a broader sense, the expanded text ad change means that while you’ll no longer be able to create ETAs after June 2022, your existing ETAs will continue to serve and work alongside responsive search ads. You’ll continue to be able to see reports on their performance, and you’ll be able to pause, resume, or remove your existing ETAs as needed.

What impact will this change have on advertisers?

The first and most noticeable impact for advertisers will likely be the feeling of a loss of control over their ad titles and descriptions, as this is a key component in expanded text ads. For example, imagine you’re a PPC specialist in a digital marketing agency with clients ranging from beauty and skincare to fashion, health and wellness, manufacturing, etc.

It’s a healthy mix, so you’ve worked out a system or “flow” of creating your ads using the tools and control provided by expanded text ads.

This flow generally consists of using ETAs to “test” messaging that you would then use to inform your responsive search ads. Best practices typically advise you to include at least two ETAs and one RSA for each ad group, as this gives valuable insight as to which ad copy is working versus which isn’t. This can be especially valuable for ad groups in beauty and skincare marketing, as certain terms can sometimes be deemed “restricted” by Google, meaning an appeal with Google Ad reps or a revision of the copy itself.

With Google’s change, however, you’ll now have more variations to test than before. This is because RSAs automatically populate, pulling from several headlines and description lines. It means that you’ll want to be more specific in your keyword groupings, though your headlines and descriptions should still be written around the search term and subject. Not only will this keep your RSAs relevant, but it will help alleviate the chances of having to deal with appealing and fixing disapproved Google ads.

What should advertisers do going forward?

With nine months left to go before Google’s change officially rolls out, there are some key tips that advertisers can use to help them prepare for the swap over to responsive search ads.

  1. Repurpose your existing high-performance ETAs: Focus on improving ad strength for your RSAs, as increasing your scores from “Poor” to “Excellent” is a great way to increase your overall click and conversion rates.
  2. Browse your account’s Recommendations Page: These suggestions are customized and as such, should help you to quickly add and improve your responsive search ads.
  3. Utilize the Pin option: You’ll want to pin at least 2-3 options for your headlines or descriptions to specific positions in your RSAs.
  4. Use variations in your ads: Variations help you test different versions of your assets at scale while also helping to gauge performance across multiple campaigns.
  5. Pair broad match keywords and Smart Bidding with responsive search ads: Not only will this combination help you to reach higher-performing queries, but you’ll be able to optimize your bids in real time, likely driving more conversions at a similar cost per conversion.

To sum things up, you’re going to want to start using RSAs now if you haven’t already. Likewise, you’ll want to keep your current ETAs running, testing as many as you can within the next 9 months while you can still create them. Adding some evergreen ETAs isn’t a bad idea either, as it will give you something to use in the future. Above all else, your focus should be finding out which copy lines work best for your organization and clients.

Need More Help Optimizing Your Google Ads? Turn to the Search Marketing Experts at VELOX Media

Though Google’s phase-out of expanded text ads changes some aspects of PPC management, it doesn’t have to throw a wrench in your Google Ads campaigns. In fact, should you find yourself worried about what this change might mean for you, we’d love to help! Our search management team optimizes PPC campaigns daily, basing our optimizations on human experience. From seasonal campaign targets to sustained paid dominance, we’ve got the experience and methodology to help you rise above the fold in organic search.

Contact VELOX Media to learn more about how we can assist and optimize your Google Ads campaigns today.

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