Google announced that effective June 30, 2022, expanded text ads can no longer be created or edited, while responsive search ads will be the preferred ad type. In other words, expanded text ads are slowly being phased out.
Google provided much advance notice for this change; more than typical. While I can only provide theories as to why they gave lots of notice, this isn’t the focus of the blog. Needless to say, it gives marketers ample time to prepare.
Existing expanded text ads in accounts will continue to serve, and reports will still be available. Marketers can pause, resume and remove any of these ads. Phew, you can breathe a sigh of relief!
While expanded text ads can run simultaneously with responsive search ads, we’d expect the overwhelming majority of impressions to be served to responsive search ads. Google will favor these ad types, and the data will show that.
What are responsive search ads?
“Google Ads Tutorials: About responsive search ads” video and photo by Google Ads
Since we will have to adapt to using responsive search ads, let’s learn more about this ad type.
Responsive search ads are like multiple ads in one. Users can enter multiple headlines and descriptions, without the designation of which position it will appear. An assortment of headlines and descriptions are entered, and Google will use its algorithm to determine the top-performing combination for each search query.
Users can “pin” a copy to ensure that a certain headline shows every time. For instance, “Free Shipping On All Orders” can be pinned to ensure that the headline is displayed consistently as headline three, or pinned sparingly so that it shows in one of the three headline positions. Remember that if you pin a version of copy in each category, it will be no different than expanded text ads, and will not give the AI tool an opportunity to run.
There is a limit of up to 15 headlines and four descriptions for a single ad, and a maximum of three responsive search ads for each ad group. Ad strength is ranked qualitatively, such as “poor”, “good” or “excellent”. With time, Google will learn the best performing combination, and learn which version is most relevant for different queries.
What are the potential limitations?
Some limitations of this change include less control over ad copy. Click-through rate definitely could be increased with the best performing combination, but that doesn’t mean that conversions and conversion rate will be higher. A close eye will have to monitor these metrics to ensure that performance isn’t declining.
It is unclear which metric Google will use to optimize ad copy, however, it is assumed that several factors will be taken into consideration, such as click-through rate, conversions, conversion rate and cost per conversion.
Another limitation is that the headlines and descriptions can appear in any order. Be mindful of this when writing ad copy to ensure that the value proposition is still being delivered to the user. The workaround would be to “pin” headlines and descriptions to specific positions, which was discussed above. You can pin more than one copy to each category, and it will be guaranteed that any of the pins will show. For instance, if “Free Shipping On All Orders” and “Customer Service 24/7” are both pinned as headline two, then either of these will show.
Similar to expanded text ads where headline three and description two don’t always show, the same is true here. Make sure to include critical information in the first two headlines, and first description. Also important to note, as seen in the image below, not all headlines will be served impressions.
Time to get started
In the months leading up to this change, I know we will be testing responsive search ads alongside expanded text ads. We have the time to prepare, so let’s get ahead of it.
We can start testing the ads on a couple of campaigns at a time, while we evaluate the results. This will give plenty of time to adjust to the inevitable change.
Go ahead and write compelling ad copy, and see how responsive search ads perform!