Google announced that starting June 2022, responsive search ads (RSAs) will be the only ad type that can be created or edited in Search campaigns. That means you will no longer be able to create expanded text ads (ETAs) after that time. You can read the full announcement here.
While this is a big announcement, it hardly comes as a surprise. Google has made it increasingly difficult to create ETAs both with new campaigns and within an existing ad group. Within hours of the announcement, the #PPCchat community on Twitter was abuzz.
This is just another move by Google Ads that hinders advertisers’ ability to exercise control over campaigns. Over the last few years, we have seen the elimination of broad match modifiers, a reduction of intelligence in the search terms report, expansion of close variants, and the planned removal of third-party cookies. All these changes make it increasingly difficult for advertisers to create and run successful PPC campaigns.
In Google’s announcement, they indicate RSAs are a great example of how automation is done. They stress that automation is key to keeping pace with new search queries and shifts in consumer trends. With RSAs, they use machine learning to show ads they believe are the most relevant out of up to fifteen headlines and four descriptions.
I must respectfully disagree that they are more relevant. In our accounts, RSAs under-perform ETAs a majority of the time.
Google wants you to “include more keywords in your headlines” and then delivers ads that have similar headlines in both positions one and two. While you can pin positions for both headlines and descriptions, Google will then rate the ad strength average or poor. A poor ad strength can result in a not eligible or limited ad delivery status, which means your ad is not being shown.
In the images below, you can see their suggestions for improving ad strength when an ad is ranked Poor or Average.
By diversifying your headlines, they sometimes give an RSA a low “ad strength.” When you include more keywords, they deliver ads that do not make sense.
When you pin headlines and descriptions so your ads make sense, they give you low ad strength. You can see how this could become a circular problem. And now, this will be the only ad type. #smdh
Reactions from the PPC Community
Reactions from the #PPCchat Twitter community came quickly. They ranged from resigned, to angry, to grateful (for the advanced notice), and to pragmatic (brainstorming workarounds).
Below, you can see a few of the reactions on Twitter.
Writing’s been on the wall. Stinks for anyone in highly regulated fields. Would be nice if the RSA data was usable or scientific instead of a generic “Best” or “Good” & knowing combos that work together would help.
— Greg Finn (@gregfinn) August 31, 2021
You can make ETAs using pinning. Just make exactly 3 headlines and 2 descriptions in the RSA and pin all of them.
— Eben Lowy (@eben_lowy) August 31, 2021
With RSA Pinning, even clients with strict copy guidelines should be able to achieve the exact same ad. That is of course only if you use the exact same ad components you did for a single ETA ad and dont make use of all the headlines available.
— Brett Bodofsky (@BrettBodofsky) August 31, 2021
Have you all noticed that if you pin anything your ad strength score is lower? I had one ad today that had pinned 2 headlines and I unpinned them and it went immediately from “poor” AS to “average” AS with no other changes.
Not the only time I have seen this either.#ppcchat
— Julie F Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon) August 31, 2021
I do love how the percent more conversions is a precise number but the cost delta is nebulous. Just another way for Google to take more ad dollars and deliver less value.
RSAs underperform ETAs almost universally in my experience.
— Collin Slattery (@CJSlattery) August 31, 2021
Not a surprise at all. Google has already made them hard to create in the interface. The real surprise would be if we could see engagement and conversion metrics for ALL combinations. #ppcchat
— Matthew Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) August 31, 2021
Overall, PPC professionals are an optimistic bunch, and they have grown used to these types of changes from Google. There are a bunch of brilliant people who are quick to offer helpful suggestions for how to make it work. At Baltzer Marketing, we will take this announcement and learn how we can best use it to help clients continue to succeed with PPC.
Along with many others, we hope we will retain the ability to pin headlines and descriptions. We may use Eben Lowy’s suggestion to create three headlines and two descriptions and then pin them into the appropriate positions. This will enable us to continue A/B testing to find the top performing headlines and descriptions within an ad group (which we then add to the RSA in the same ad group.)
Another idea I thought of was to proactively create several ETAs for ad testing prior to June 30, 2022 and pause them until we are ready to A/B test them. One thing is for sure; the PPC industry will adapt to Google’s changes. However infuriating they may seem.