What do you want to know

June 30 is almost here. This is when Google will remove Expanded Text Ads (ETA).

Google gave us a lot of time, advice and resources to prepare the successor to ETA – Responsive Search Ads (RSA).

Are you ready? Read this guide for helpful insights and to understand how this transition may affect your paid search campaigns.


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Transition Details

Departure June 30thadvertisers will no longer be able to create or edit ETAs in Google Ads.

However, existing ETAs will still be able to work alongside RSAs in the future.

Advertisers will still have the ability to pause and resume these ads based on reporting indications that Google Ads will continue to provide.

What are RSAs?

RSAs are responsive ads on the Search Network. Advertisers upload multiple titles and descriptions, then let Google’s machine learning optimize the ad versions in real time. The goal is to increase engagement (click-through rate).

Google allows up to 15 different titles and up to four different descriptions to be considered when creating combinations of ads displayed in search results.

Think of all the possibilities of Google’s machine learning to optimize advertising messages. There are over 43,000 different variations available to keep your messaging fresh and keep ad engagement on an upward trajectory.

Over time, the system will customize ad versions based on user search behavior, device preferences, and other signals to serve the right version at the right time. The result looks exactly like the ETAs and includes up to three titles, two descriptions, and a display URL.

Google originally introduced RSAs in beta in 2018 and has continued to expose advertisers to the change.

Alerts on the Google Ads platform have appeared over the past few months. These alerts are typically displayed when creating new listings or editing existing listings.

RSAs have become the default ad type in Google Ads on February 18, 2021.

Benefits of RSAs

Yes, there are some downsides to this transition. For example, advertisers have less control over ad combinations and low visibility on top performing combinations.

However, there are also reasons to get excited. Here are three big advantages:

  • You will save time. After the initial planning of the RSA, you will save the many hours of creation, testing and analysis that were previously spent on new versions of ETAs.
  • Performance will improve. Advertisers are already seeing improved click-through rates associated with RSAs. As the system optimizes and learns, click-through rates will increase and the best performing versions will be prioritized.
  • The optimization will be done in real time. As learning progresses, the system gets smarter to deliver the best students. This ensures that ads will be more appealing to consumers and become more optimized over time.

How does the transition affect the Search Network ad strategy?

Take the knowledge of what worked best from your ETAs and transfer them to the RSAs.

All the hard work and testing you’ve done will pay off with this update.

You may think that your best performing ETAs will stop working and you should suspend them immediately. Not true.

Instead, you should continue to run the best ETAs. Analyze their performance against RSAs in each ad group.

Now is the time to start thinking about all the titles and descriptions you want to use in your RSA ads. While Google does the heavy lifting of optimizing and testing combinations, we need to give Google our most effective marketing messages.

The lack of combination control requires some strategic planning and attention to what is possible.

How to write effective RSAs

Google gives helpful tips on how to create effective search ads. All of these suggestions should be considered when writing your RSAs.

Here’s what’s most important when writing effective RSAs.

Headlines are your bread and butter

Headlines make your ads stand out and make potential customers click on your ad over your competitor’s. They also have a important impact on how Google ranks ad quality.

  • Keep your title unique. Google won’t show titles that are too similar. Redundant titles will limit the number of combinations Google can offer.
  • Include keywords in at least five titles. To optimize the quality score of your ads, Google offers dynamic keyword insertion to insert your keywords directly into your titles.
  • Include three titles that don’t have campaign keywords. These titles may include specific calls for exclusive discount offers when available.
  • Have a combination of short and long titles. Titles can be up to 30 characters.
  • Aim to deliver at least 10 titles for Google to optimize.

Create attention-grabbing descriptions

Use your descriptions to let potential customers know why you’re the best option. Don’t make them guess. Get your marketing message across by thinking about the following:

  • Highlight something unique in each description. Think about the different combinations that can be put together and if they make sense in any order. It is important. One description should not depend on another.
  • Tell the audience what you want them to do. Whether it’s “Download a newsletter” or “Buy today”, strong and clear calls to action are essential.

Use pinning to control combinations only when necessary

Google allows you to pin titles and descriptions, so they appear in a specific position. This is a great feature that can help you regain some of the control you think you’ve lost.

Use pinning only when necessary. Google is a learning machine. Pinning a title reduces the testing and learning Google can do by over 75%. The percentage increases as the number of pins increases.

Leverage Google’s Ad Power Score

We love that Google gives us insight into how our ads can be improved. Take this seriously.

Often we think our ads cover all the necessary elements, but Google may disagree. The ad strength indicator measures the quantity, relevance and diversity of titles and descriptions provided.

Use this information to improve ads until they are rated “Good” or even “Excellent” by Google. Google offers an option to show ideas that can help you grow your ads and make them more relevant.

Google Ads RSA Readiness Checklist

  • Continue to learn: Enjoy the next two months. Keep testing new versions of your ETAs to identify what works and forward those messages to your RSAs.
  • Create one RSA ad per ad group: Make sure each ad group has an active RSA. Use the recommendations above and those from Google to write effective RSAs.
  • Use ad extensions: Implement at least four ad extensions for each group. Ad extensions can be applied at multiple levels, including account, campaign, and ad group. Apply extensions at the ad group level so that the extensions are relevant. A high number of extensions increases the amount of information the user must evaluate before clicking on your ad.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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About the Author

Jenny Mallory is Director of Paid Media at Vision, an agency founded in Dallas, TX, specializing in SEO services, paid media searches (search/display/social/video/Amazon), local listing management, and conversion rate optimization. Jenny has 15 years of paid media experience working with clients on everything from hyper-local to international efforts.

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