Automation 2021: Google kills ETAs to Focus on RSAs


At the end of last month, Google formally announced that beginning in July 2022, advertisers will no longer be able to create new expanded text ads (ETA) or edit existing ETAs in Google Ads. A clear indication that Google is prioritizing automation through their ad products, responsive search ads (RSAs) will replace ETAs as the flavor of choice.

Sylvanus Bent, Product Manager for Google Ads, explained that “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, let’s take a closer look at why this change comes now and how you can best incorporate RSAs into your marketing strategy as a company or business.


“Making it easy to show the right message on search.”

According to Google,

“The ways people search are constantly changing. In fact, 15% of search queries every day are new searches we’ve never seen before. As consumer trends shift and evolve, it’s more important than ever to make it easier for people to connect with your business through relevant and helpful ads.

Automation is key to keeping pace with these trends. Responsive search ads are a great example of how this is done—they combine your creativity with the power of machine learning to help you show more relevant ads to more people. This is a powerful combination: advertisers that switch from expanded text ads to responsive search ads, using the same assets, see an average of 7% more conversions at a similar cost per conversion.”


So, what exactly is an RSA and how can businesses make the most of it?

With RSA’s, you provide multiple headlines and description options that Google then creatively mixes and matches, based on your search queries and other proprietary data. Naturally, this is all done to serve the most effective ads to users. Ideally, responsive search ads are intended to help you compete in a wider variety of relevant auctions by delivering ads that adapt to show the right message for the correct query. This means that you can drive incremental conversions and create fewer ads—all while spending more time on strategic initiatives for your business.


How to prepare for the transition?

The number one thing to keep in mind is that you can use ETA info for RSAs in the transition. “To prepare for this change, we recommend that you have at least one responsive search ad in every ad group in your Search campaigns by June 30, 2022,” Bent suggested.

Once you’ve got the basics prepared, the system will find the combination of headlines and descriptions that works best. That being said, it is still our job to determine what headlines and descriptions are relevant for each ad group. For example, with brand campaigns, it will be advisable to ensure the brand name is found in virtually all of the headline possibilities. Another way is to selectively write a custom headline for the main keyword in the ad group and pin it. But, as Google reminds us, pinning is a possibility that reduces the system’s potential to find winning combinations, so unless we can see an obvious advantage—this probably isn’t a good idea.

Other recommendations for ways that advertisers can repurpose their ETA content for RSAs:

  • Repurpose high-performing content from your expanded text ads and focus on Ad strength.
  • Pin headlines or descriptions to specific positions in your responsive search ads.
  • Evaluate the success of your ads based on incremental impressions, clicks, and conversions your ad groups and campaigns receive.


What do we think of this at GANDT?

This is yet another step towards turning Search into a different game, going from when advertisers had all the control (the ads displayed were precisely what we had written) to a future of increasing automation. Going forward, we will still control what’s happening, but most of the operational stuff will fall on an automated, machine learning-based system.

For many marketeers, this feels unsettling at first: the rules of the game that we have learned to master are changing little by little while we are still on the pitch. Yet, these changes also come with some undeniable advantages (let’s be realistic, the best marketeer will be no rival for an AI algorithm and its unlimited capacity to test thousands of variables and signals).

Furthermore, it is very likely that in a not-so-far-off future, Google will take yet another step and completely replace humans as copywriters, putting together its own ads from the pieces of text found on the website (this is a reality already in Dynamic Search Ads).  So, the only answer can be, embrace as soon as possible. Forget about the old rules and learn to focus on where the new priorities are.

Eager to learn more? Simply book a free appointment to continue the conversation, and ask us questions about how your business can succeed throughout the RSA transition.