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More Characters, More Opportunity: Taking Advantage of Google Text Ad Changes

Originally posted on July 21, 2016; Updated on November 4, 2022

More Characters, More Opportunity: Taking Advantage of Google Text Ad Changes

Google is making one of its most significant changes to Google Ads since it first launched the product 22 years ago as the first-ever self-serve online advertising solution. Previously known as Google AdWords, the service has, over the years, continually evolved, helping businesses reach more potential customers.

The latest change saw Expanded Text Ads phased out and Responsive Search Ads ushered in. This comes as excellent news for your business, as an internal Google study found that companies that switch to responsive search ads saw an average of seven percent more conversions at a similar cost per conversion!

Read on to learn how Smart WSI Marketing can help you take advantage of these text ad changes and make online advertising even more effective for your local business. Call us for a consultation!

Responsive Search Ads vs. Expanded Text Ads

Mobile continues to be the go-to way people search online. As a result, more businesses are shifting to a mobile-first approach with their online digital marketing strategies. So, it only makes sense that Google would continue moving Google Ads in that direction, too.

First, a few things to know about the sunsetting of expanded text ads (ETAs).

You can:

  • Continue running any existing ETAs.
  • Pause, resume, or remove ETAs, but you can’t edit or create new ones.
  • Report on ETA performance.

Why has Google made this change?

Responsive search ads (RSAs) were introduced in 2018 and since then have become deeply ingrained in online marketing campaigns. ETAs, which were rolled out in 2016, once reigned supreme but have slowly but surely been overtaken by the now default RSAs.

How Do Responsive Search Ads Work?

Just like with other search ads, RSAs consist of headlines, descriptions, and a display URL with path fields. One major difference is that when creating a responsive search ad, you can enter multiple headlines and descriptions to appeal to different users based on their unique queries and search history. Over time, Google Ads tests different combinations of your ads and learns which combos perform best. This can result in more than 40,000 unique ad variations!

As Google’s algorithm gradually improves, it ultimately determines the best-performing asset combination. i.e., your most promising ad that matches a user’s search, and serves it at the optimal time.

How Google Responsive Search Ads Are Better for Local Businesses

One of the greatest benefits of using RSAs as part of your digital marketing strategy is that Google does all the testing and hard work for you! That translates into:

  • Improved results in search engine result pages (SERP).
  • Higher click-through rates (CTR).
  • More effective ads.

As explained earlier, one of the main advantages of using responsive ads is the ability to simultaneously test various unique headlines and descriptions. Where you once had to write multiple ads to accommodate this, RSAs let you “split test” using one convenient feature. This helps your business in several ways, including:

  • Cost and time savings.
  • Increased visibility in relevant search queries.
  • Optimization through AI machine learning.
  • Improved ad performance.
  • Less room for human error.

RSAs also adapt more readily to changing consumer behavior and offer streamlined account management and optimization, making it much easier for Google to make recommendations related to account performance.

Are there any downsides to using RSAs?

One trade-off is less control over your ad copy. Another is that RSAs can take a bit longer to complete since you must come up with much more copy. Fortunately, Google lends a hand here, providing businesses with suggestions when creating ads.

Planning for Responsive Search Ad Success

Responsive search ads can be an effective way to boost your PPC marketing strategy, helping you broaden your reach and reach more potential customers with the most effective versions of your ads.

To get the most out of RSAs, keep these Google-recommended best practices in mind:

Create concise and distinctive headlines and make sure each headline highlights a new point, offers a fresh take, or says something different.

Include at least three popular keywords in headlines to catch people’s attention.

Use call-to-action words that motivate people to immediately act after reading your ad.

Highlight unique selling points that aren’t “hooks” or CTAs like “free trial” or “50% off.” Instead, emphasize your product or service’s features and benefits to users can make more informed decisions.

Pin key elements to optimize visibility but use this feature sparingly, as it can affect an ad’s strength. Most experts agree the best time to use pinning is when you have enough data to know your best-performing ad copy.

Let’s Talk Strategy!

Overall, this is a Google change we really support, as it helps our clients improve their ads and achieve better message/customer results. Is your digital marketing strategy set up to make the most of responsive search ads? At Smart WSI Marketing, we can help you create RSA campaigns that take full advantage of this latest Google advertising opportunity. Contact us today to learn more.


Lynne team member
Lynne Motkoski, Digital Marketing Consultant
Specialty: Digital Marketing Strategies
Education: MA Communications & Technology, BComm [U Alberta]

Lynne is known for her strategic approach to marketing communications, technologies, and lead generation. She has a passion for education, keeping up with current marketing trends and practices, and helping clients keep ahead of their competition.

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