Optmyzr Blog

Google to Sunset Expanded Text Ads: Here’s How to Build Good Responsive Search Ads

Search Ads PPC Strategy Sep 02, 2021

Moving a step closer to near-total PPC automation, Google Ads announced that starting from July 2022, Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) will be the only search ad type in standard search campaigns.

The official announcement, posted by Sylvanus Bent, Product Manager at Google Ads, added, “However, your existing Expanded Text Ads will continue to serve alongside Responsive Search Ads, and you’ll still see reports on their performance going forward. Additionally, you’ll be able to pause and resume your Expanded Text Ads or remove them if needed. You’ll also still be able to create and edit Call Ads and Dynamic Search Ads.”

So what do PPC advertisers do next?

What you can do during the ten-month runway

As with any other updates from Google, there’s only one thing we can do about the change: unlearn, relearn, and adapt. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you get started with the transition:

1. Pinning headlines and descriptions

Pinning headlines or descriptions to specific positions in your Responsive Search Ads is one way to show certain messages that always need to be visible. But be warned – pinning affects ad strength, visibility, and performance.

Verticals like pharmaceuticals (which require specific information in ads) and legal services (which require approval of each ad variant) might find the sunset of ETAs more disadvantageous than usual. Google is yet to announce whether these verticals will be exempt from penalties for pinning, or if there will be a workaround.

As our CEO Frederick Vallaeys says in this Search Engine Land article from earlier this week, unless you’re working in a field that absolutely requires certain information to be displayed, try not to pin components and instead put in the work to craft great RSAs.

2. Ad customizers

Ad customizers are a great way to make sure your ads adapt to the needs of potential customers based on what they’re searching for in real time. They let you add custom attributes that are tailored to user search intent or location, such as price or another attribute.

Check your account’s Recommendations page for customized suggestions to help you customize and improve your RSAs.

3. Copywriting and testing

Create and test different versions of your ad assets at scale, and review their performance across multiple campaigns.

Yes, this means putting more effort than usual into high-quality ad copy that can work across combinations and permutations. But the payoff is rewarding when you have RSAs (up to 3 per ad group) that Google’s machine learning can test to find the best variants of.

Read more about the right way to test Responsive Search Ads using Campaign Experiments.

Other recommendations include:

  • Repurposing high-performing content from your Expanded Text Ads
  • Focusing on Ad Strength rather than Quality Score as the guiding metric
  • Per Google, having “at least one Responsive Search Ad in every ad group in your search campaigns by June 30, 2022”
  • Evaluating the success of your ads based on incremental absolute metrics – impressions, clicks, and conversions

How Optmyzr helps you craft high-quality Responsive Search Ads

We’ve been handing PPC experts control of their advertising destiny for a while, so it’s no surprise that the Optmyzr platform comes with several tools to manage and optimize Responsive Search Ads. Here are some of the things you can do.

1. Find winning components in the Ad Text Optimization tool

The Ad Text Optimization tool lets you find the best-performing headlines, descriptions, and other components from your current text ads. Use these winning components in the next step to craft RSAs using ad text that’s been proven to win you clicks and conversions.

We’re working on adding Responsive Search Ad support for the Ad Text Optimization tool so you can start tracking the performance of your RSAs more closely.

2. Create new RSAs in the Responsive Search Ads Utility

Our Responsive Search Ads Utility is an easy solution to create RSAs in your ad groups that don’t currently have any. It offers suggestions for headlines and descriptions, making the process faster and easier.

Use the winning ad text components from your ETAs here, but be sure to account for the RSA behavior of mixing and matching headlines and descriptions. You’ll want to tweak your ad text so that each component can stand on its own as well as be part of a larger message.

If your advertising vertical demands that you pin certain messages, now’s the time to do that. Even otherwise, you can pin minimally if something really demands to be seen in a certain position. Just don’t go overboard.

Watch our latest walkthrough of the Responsive Search Ads Utility:

And learn more about how to create RSAs using Optmyzr here.

3. Find and fix underperforming Responsive Search Ads

Most search ads that run on Google are poorly crafted, which is why even a basic copywriting effort will usually lead to good performance. But when you have up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions, a Responsive Search Ad containing weak ad text tends to underperform on an even larger scale.

Fortunately, we created a handy RSA guide a while back. In it, you’ll find information on how to create a good Responsive Search Ad, how to improve your RSA ad strength, and how to audit and fix underperforming RSAs using Optmyzr.

The audit section, which is usually one of the more challenging parts, is easier thanks to our rule-based (if x, then y) strategy that you can run and automate using our powerful Rule Engine.

So what now for PPC pros who rely on Expanded Text Ads?

Expanded Text Ads are comfortable, reliable, and offer you more control over what messages get shown when. Responsive Search Ads can improve performance when combined with human optimization and creativity.

The best solution is to use both, but since we can’t force Google to roll back their announcement, the next best thing is to use the 10-month runway ahead of us to adapt.

Building good RSAs takes time and patience, so don’t give up. Test, test, and then test some more. All great campaigns are built on exhaustive experimentation!

Start a 2-week free trial of Optmyzr and see for yourself how much easier it is to create solid RSAs – among other things!


Ashwin Balakrishnan

Senior Marketing Manager


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