The End of Expanded Text Ads: What You Need to Know
Written bySteve AllinsonAccount Executive
Have you heard the news?
On the 31st August 2021, Google confirmed that after the 30th June 2022, it will no longer be possible to create/edit Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) in both the Google Ads interface and Editor.
This is huge news for the industry and has left many advertisers questioning the decision. So, what does this mean for Expanded Text Ads?
Is this the end or is there a solution?
What Are Expanded Text Ads?
ETAs are a type of search ad available to use on Google Ads. They allow advertisers to reach users through the Google search engine results page. They have room for three headlines, two descriptions, two path fields, and a URL taking the searcher to the desired landing page.
ETAs have been the dominant search ad type for most advertisers since they were rolled out in 2016. However, they fell out of favour in early 2021 when Google gave Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) the power to be the default search ad type.
Since then, advertisers have suspected the demise of ETAs, which was recently confirmed by Google:
After the 30th June 2022, you will no longer be able to create/edit ETAs in the Google Ads interface and Editor. However, the good news is that they will still serve and can be paused, removed, and reactivated.
This means there is no requirement to remove them from your account, as you will still have access to them, they can still perform well and can help your account achieve its goals. Their usability will just be limited.
The search ad types that you will still be able to create and edit after the 30th of June are RSAs and Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs).
Why Is This Happening?
Google’s push towards automation and machine learning is the cause of this change. And this shift will only grow as the future of search advertising is automated.
Google’s machine learning uses large amounts of data gathered from the advertiser and the searcher as fuel for its algorithms, which autonomously puts best practices in place to drive better performance.
This is where RSAs and DSAs come into play, which both favour automation and let Google do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to testing.
RSAs automatically test different combinations of assets that you supply and DSAs automatically generate assets based on the website/pages you provide.
The End of Expanded Text Ads
One benefit of this shift towards automation is that it gives you time to concentrate on crafting new campaigns and reports on performance.
This highlights the advantages of using DSAs. They dynamically generate the ad headlines for you, giving you time to focus on optimising other parts of your account.
Another benefit of creating RSAs over ETAs is that they save you time, as you will have fewer ads to manage and monitor. Google automatically tests your assets and selects the ones with the best chance of converting.
Google can obtain the best results possible for your input. So, in theory, the more data you supply Google and the more control you hand over, the better your results.
By giving Google’s algorithms more data to test on your behalf, its machine learning capabilities will constantly improve and become more efficient.
The result of this is also a better experience for searchers, as they are being served ads that have the ‘right message’ for them and are tailored to their query.
A downside of the shift towards automation is that testing will become harder in Google Ads. ETAs were, and currently still are, a great way to split test what headlines and descriptions work well in your advertising campaigns.
The shift away from ETAs certainly makes it harder to manually test performance and acquire hard data on what users respond to.
That being said, you have to trust Google and allow it to start doing this testing for you.
Another downside is that automation leaves the advertiser with less control, and this can seem quite daunting.
We all want to have some control over our ads for numerous reasons, such as protecting our brand image and ensuring the combination of assets in the ads is cohesive.
One way to gain a bit more control over your ads in the new world of automation is to ‘pin’ headlines in position in RSAs.
For example, if you were creating a brand campaign and were adamant your brand name should appear in the headline, you can press ‘pin’ and Google will ensure this headline is secured. The other options will be automatically switched around from the list of assets you provide.
This is a great feature if you are concerned about ad copy and the different combinations of headlines Google may serve. However, Google recommends against this as it goes against the purpose of RSAs.
Because these assets will not automatically combine into the best performing ads for that given user, your ads may not perform as well as you would like.
Control is also a concern if you are marketing in a highly regulated industry where the locations of assets are important. In this context, dynamically generated ads such as DSAs can be unappealing, as you have no control over what headlines are being served to users.
What Should Advertisers Do?
1. Invest In RSAs
Ensure you have at least one RSA in each ad group as Google starts to favour this ad type. By already having them set up before ETAs are gone, it gives you time to get to grips with them and understand how to get the best out of them.
2. Trial DSAs
While they may not be right for every campaign and account, DSAs can certainly help out in some, especially those that are struggling to get search volume.
Instead of mapping out keywords, Google will do this for you based on your website and allow your ads to serve for keywords you may not have even thought of.
3. Test ETAs
Prep for life after ETAs so that when the 30th of June comes around, you know what works and what doesn’t.
The more effective data you have, the more you can improve your other ads by taking those high-performing assets and ensuring they are used in your RSAs and DSAs.
So, is this the end for Expanded Text Ads? Not quite, is the answer.
While you will no longer be able to create/edit ETAs after the 30th of June 2022, they will still serve like normal and help you achieve your goals.
Up until this date, they can still be edited in the interface and created/edited in Editor, so you have plenty of time to prepare.
Just ensure that they are set up correctly and have been thoroughly tested as, after that date, their manageability dramatically decreases.
If you haven’t already, you should switch up your search ad types and invest in the future of automation and machine learning.