Farewell to Expanded Text Ads? What Google’s Latest Update Means for Ad Creation?

Yesterday afternoon Google announced that, from the 18th of February, Responsive Search Ads (RSA) will be the default ad type for search campaigns in Google Ads. Where we once used to see the + Text Ad option for creating ETA’s, the Google Ads interface has now removed that feature (behind an escape hatch) with + Responsive Search Ad, + Call Ad and + Ad Variation as the only options for us to select on paid search campaigns. 

Russell Scott



Google’s reasoning behind this update is accredited to the ever evolving nature of the search ecosystem. The ways in which consumers are searching has changed, and the impact of Covid-19 has only accelerated this pace. As search continues to evolve, Google stressed the importance of having a dynamic and responsive ad format that can support these changes. So what does this rather impromptu update mean for the Search industry?

Responsive Search Ads

RSA’s are adaptable variations of ads that allow you to enter multiple headlines and descriptions so that the same ad can be delivered in various different formats and sizes. Using ML, RSA’s identify the best combination of ad content to deliver the right advertising message to the right audience at the right time – asset based ads that combine the best assets based on the user context.

Expanded Text Ads

For now, it’s still possible to create Expanded Text Ads (ETA) in Google Ads if needed. Although removed from the main bar, text ads are still accessible behind an ‘escape hatch’ and ETA’s can be created via two methods:

  1. In the UI – selecting the +Responsive Search Ad option and then selecting ‘Switch back to text ads’ 
  2. Via Google Ads editor or the API (these will remain unchanged for now)

While ETA’s are still possible, this Ad Creation update strongly indicates that Google will continue to phase them out in favour of RSAs in the long term. 

How To Prepare

Although the changes don’t require any immediate action as ETA creation is still possible, there a few things search advertisers should start considering:

  • If you haven’t already, ensure that you have at least one RSA created in each ad group on your accounts
  • Focus on ensuring that you don’t have any RSAs that are underperforming vs ETAs – In the long term we can expect ETAs to be phased out, so identifying and resolving any performance issues with RSAs in the meantime is key
  • Utilize new Asset level reporting which can now be found under the ‘Ads & Extensions’ section in the UI to identify opportunities to improve RSA performance

This report details which assets are ‘learning’,  ‘Low’, ‘Good’ or ‘Best’ in terms of performance

  • Regularly reviewing and replacing ‘low performing’ assets with new ones will improve overall RSA performance
  • Focus on Improving Ad strength metrics. Adding ‘Ad strength’ and ‘Ad strength improvements’ columns within the Ads tab of the UI allows you to easily identify RSAs with a ‘Poor’ or ‘Average’  rating and what actions can be taken to improve performance

  • Utilize headline pinning where appropriate, this gives a greater level of control if you want to ensure a consistent message is served to all users, such as branding, promotional or legal disclosures
  • Further Optimize your Assets by using the updated Ad customizers for RSAs. This will allow you to further improve relevance and performance by including a customers location within ad messaging, dynamically countdown to sales or events or insert product and pricing information from a business data feed

For more information on what this update will mean for your campaign performance and how to prepare, get in touch today.

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