While this decision may not have come as a surprise to anyone, since in March 2021, Google replaced Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) with RSAs as the default Ad type in Search, it is nonetheless a concern.
There are many companies where the brand needs and wants to be in tight control of its message, and this change certainly doesn't help to achieve that. Especially when you consider that ETAs used to work as well, or often better than RSAs.
So why the change?
The removal of ETAs is clearly part of Google's strategy to empower and even "force" advertisers to use their automation. Honestly, we all know that since the March changes, ETAs were hidden in new ad counts and almost always with less screen time than RSAs.
What the change consists of.
As of July 2022, advertisers will no longer be able to create new ETAs in Google Ads or edit existing ones.
Sylvanus Bent, Product Manager for Google Ads recently announced that "Existing ETAs will continue to work alongside RSAs, and you will continue to see performance reports. In addition, ETAs can be paused, resumed or deleted, if necessary. Call Ads and Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs) will also be able to be created and edited."
How to cope with the transition
According to Brent, "To prepare for this change, we recommend that you have at least one RSA in every ad group in your Search campaigns by June 30, 2022."
Along with the news, Google also gave a number of recommendations on how to reposition ads:
1. reuse content from the ATSs that are performing best and focus on Ad strength. Ad strength is understood as what provides the optimal information to help us deliver the right messages to our customers. Ad strength has two components: the overall rating that indicates the effectiveness of a relevant ad, and the specific action(s) that can improve ad strength.
2. Set headlines or descriptions in specific positions in your RSAs.
3. Evaluate the success of your ads based on the incremental impressions, clicks, and conversions your ad groups and campaigns receive.
Although I would venture to say that this last recommendation should be taken with a grain of salt. Trying to control the machine by telling it what text to place in certain ad positions is often detrimental to results.
What the future holds
According to Google, RSAs make it possible for us to reach more potential customers with multiple headlines and descriptions that give our ads the opportunity to compete in more auctions and match more searches. So, if RSAs truly do attract more clicks and conversions, in theory, it seems likely that the performance of our ad group will improve.
Now, what does it mean for advertisers to be in the hands of Google's automation?
It means losing control. It is true that thanks to automation, we will be able to reduce manual effort and allocate our resources where it suits us best. We'll be able to focus on strategic issues and spend more time monitoring performance results, driving testing initiatives, and optimizing where needed.
But one thing is certain: The biggest frustration for advertisers is the lack of control and lack of visibility into reporting, and the more data you have, the better, because you learn where performance is, but also where you need to improve. Once you know where and what to optimize, you can act accordingly.
So, the summary would be; automate yes, have time to monitor and drive new initiatives; yes, but always with data, with freedom, with automatisms that are not owned by the platform I am forced to advertise on, with independent technology that cares about my growth, and not its own.
Are you, as advertisers, concerned about the lack of control, either losing control of ad copy, losing control over ad copy testing or just losing control in a broader sense, as this is clearly another step in Google ads towards automation and towards Google's complete transformation into a black box?
JOS (without the E)