The Google expanded text ad CTR lift that never was

Responsive search ads (RSA) are the hot paid search topic of the day. They give advertisers the ability to provide Google with up to 15 headlines and four descriptions that Google can then mix and match in testing for the most effective combination of ad copy.

In exchange for testing the new format, advertisers can show up to three headlines instead of two, as well as showing two 90-character descriptions instead of one 80-character description. Google recently announced the expansion of RSA formatting to regular text ads.

The jury is still out as to whether RSAs will have a meaningful impact on text ad click-through rates (CTRs), but the dust is more or less settled on the last major text ad update to take the pay-per-click (PPC) world by storm: expanded text ads (ETA).

adwords expanded text ads changes

New paid search blood might think nothing of the two 30-character headlines and 80 character description available through ETAs, but in (puts on spectacles) MY day, we had to make do with one 25-character headline and two 35-character description lines.

Despite ambitious expectations from marketers and Google alike, the results since ETAs became the text ad standard indicate the format hasn’t had quite the effect many predicted it would.

No sign of text ad CTR improvement since ETA deadline

ETAs entered the testing phase in early 2016, and advertisers could choose to load standard (which I’ll refer to as “OGAs” from here on for their status as the original text ad format) or expanded ads through January 31, 2017, at which time only expanded text ads could then be loaded.


Want more info on Paid Search? Check out our comprehensive PPC Guide – Nine chapters covering everything from account setup to automation and bid adjustments!

[Read the full article on Search Engine Land.]


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Andy Taylor is a Senior Research Analyst at RKG, responsible for analyzing trends across the digital marketing spectrum for best practices and industry commentary. A primary contributor to the Merkle | RKG Blog, Dossier, and quarterly Digital Marketing Report, his 4+ years of experience have seen him master and provide valuable insights into topics that extend across paid search, comparison shopping engines, display advertising, SEO, and social media. Prior to coming to RKG, Andy worked as an event organizer for a political campaign and dabbled in freelance writing. A graduate of the University of Virginia with a degree in Economics, he likes to spend his free time watching documentaries and selling homemade ice cream sandwiches at farmer’s markets with his girlfriend.

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