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Sakshi Sharma
Google Ads

Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) Will Be Sunset Soon; Are You Ready for Responsive Search Ads (RSAs)?

Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) Will Be Sunset Soon; Are You Ready for Responsive Search Ads (RSAs)?

10/25/19 UPDATE: Hello Facebook Agency Visitor Person!  We’re delighted to have you visit this awesome post. About a year ago, ZATO stopped offering Facebook Ads solutions so we could focus solely on what we do best: Google Ads. Because of this, we’re always interested in partnerships with great Social Advertising agencies (like yourself, wink wink!) and we offer referral fees for signed clients!  Anyway, back to it, and happy reading…

Post Summary

  • RSAs are here to stay, Farewell ETAs
  • What are RSAs and how are they different from ETAs?
  • Some RSA advantages over ETAs
  • Preparing for the Transition: Best Practices to set up and test RSAs

RSAs are here to stay, Farewell ETAs

To ensure marketers can deliver the right message at the right time, Google has always prioritized creative excellence in order to focus on improving ad relevance and drive more qualified traffic. In fact, Google consistently reminds us that the ways that their users are searching are constantly changing and has said “15 percent of searches we see every day are new—which means there’s always more work for us to do to present people with the best answers to their queries from a wide variety of legitimate sources.” 


Launching Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) was one such move towards creative excellence and an effort to keep pace with ever-changing search trends. RSAs are a powerful ad type that use machine learning to enable advertisers to serve the most relevant and customized ads even for the newest queries, but are also designed to drive stronger CTR and cost-efficiencies.


As Google attempts to shift more ads over to this new ad format, they have officially announced a sunset date for Extended Text Ads (ETAs) of June 30, 2022. On that date, advertisers will not be able to create any new ETAs or edit existing ones, though, existing ETAs will continue to serve and be reported on.


RSAs will be the new normal in standard search campaigns moving forward. Thus, search marketers need to prepare for this update in advance and use this time to test and learn and stay ahead of the game by ensuring that their campaigns are set up for success.



What are RSAs and how are they different from ETAs?

RSAs are an ad type for Search Campaigns which use a combination of up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions that serve dynamically based on historical performance and by adapting to what users are searching for. To serve the most relevant ad per search query, Google’s machine learning automatically tests different combinations of headlines and descriptions. By capturing search demand from the newest queries, RSAs can also help garner incremental conversions according to Google.


Conversely, in ETAs, the supplied headlines and descriptions are always used in the same positions. This allows a high level of control as advertisers decide a more exact combination of the ad elements. When backed by data, these can work effectively in driving stronger CTR and Conversion Rate but, unlike RSAs, they won’t test different combinations for different search queries. These ads will appear as-is for all searches.


In addition, RSAs have some other advantages over ETAs.

●  They can help advertisers compete in more auctions by showing up for previously unseen queries.

●  Advertisers save time by providing multiple sets of headlines and descriptions, while machine learning takes care of testing the combinations and ensuring that the best message is delivered to the searcher.

●  Increased campaign performance as they have shown stronger CTR, CVR and can be more cost-efficient.

Preparing for the Transition: Best Practices to set up and test RSAs

To prepare for the update, the following are ways advertisers can set up and test responsive search ads effectively:

●  Implement at least 1 RSA in each ad group: Make sure that each of the ad groups has at least one RSA, however multiple variations are always recommended.

●  Leverage learnings from existing ETAs: Analyze existing ETA performance from your current campaigns and use those learnings to create responsive search ads. Make sure to use the winning headlines and descriptions from ETAs as the top-performing copy from this will likely also work well in RSAs.

o   In addition, you can also create a few evergreen ETAs in advance if you have plans to use them in the future. These can be added as paused and can be enabled and reported on when needed.

●  Write unique headlines: The more unique headlines you provide, the better it will be for Google’s machines to test and learn the best combinations. One of the best ways to include unique headlines is by highlighting the top keywords from each ad group to make the copy more relevant to the user. Adding keywords in the Display Path will also add another layer of ad relevance.


●  Review ad strength for stronger performance: While creating your ads, use the Ad Strength tool to guide your efforts and aim for an Ad Strength of ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’. You can also refer to the recommendation page in Google Ads for further suggestions on how to achieve an excellent ad strength.

  • Make sure to leverage the asset details: You can find this underneath your ads in blue letters.  These reports include the asset report as well as the combination report.  While most ads do not get a lot of  information about how each asset performed individually, other than the quantity of impressions, we can assume that a higher quality of impressions means a more favorable response in the eyes of Google’s automation.  If your ads have around 5,000 impressions in the “Google Search: Top” segment over the last 30 days, you will get an asset level rating in the Performance column.  This will show how your asset performs relative to other assets of the same type in your ads. The combination reports are also a helpful tool to ensure that your headlines and descriptions mesh well together and make sense in any number of combinations.

Pinning Headlines and Descriptions: Unlike ETAs, RSAs are more dynamic unless specific assets are “pinned” to specific positions. If you do not pin any headlines or descriptions, Google will have more control over the combinations. In some cases though, advertisers want to make sure things like their brand name, promotions, discounts, calls to action, USP, etc. be displayed in a certain position and always be visible. In these cases, you can choose to pin a headline or a description.

Pinning too many elements can cause Ad Strength to decrease for that ad, but here are a few tests that you can run to understand how certain ads will work when pinned or left unpinned. Based on the results from the test, you can optimize for what works best for your company or client. You can either test these on a single copy periodically or have at least 3 RSAs set up in an ad group for each of the below methods.

●  Unpinned Copy: Test an RSA without pinning any of the headlines and descriptions, giving Google’s machine learning full control over the combinations to be served.

●  Partially pinned copy: Pin a few of the headlines and/or descriptions to ensure where they are shown. For example, any headlines containing your brand name, or any promotion can be pinned on position 1 or 2 per your preference, while others are left unpinned.



●  Fully pinned copy: Pin each headline and description in certain positions (Position 1, 2, or 3). That way Google will have some control as they can still rotate from the multiple headlines pinned on the same position say position 1 and so on. This will also give more control to the advertisers and would perform more like an ETA.




While this quickly approaching update might be overwhelming for some, hopefully it’s a step towards a better and more efficient search experience both for advertisers and users. Responsive search ads are here to stay, so make sure to use the next 3 months to prepare and set up your account for success.



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Sakshi Sharma
Paid Search Manager

Passionate about marketing and have a M.S in Advertising Management and Public Relations from Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology, India. With over 7 years of work experience I love working in the field of digital marketing specialized in PPC and YouTube Advertising and always motivated to help others learn and grow in this field too. I love spending time with my family, writing poetry, listening to music and cooking delicious Indian food.

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