PUBLISHED: Feb 18, 2019 4 min read

Everything You Need to Know About Google’s New Ad Formats, Improved Expanded Text Ads and Responsive Search Ads

Nadia Vostrikov

Nadia Vostrikov

Senior Manager, Digital Media

Google’s Recently-Released Ad Formats

Last year, Google released the Responsive Search Ad, a new ad format that lets advertisers provide up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions so that Google Ads can automatically curate different combinations depending on user search queries. Responsive Search Ads, or RSAs for short, allow for a combination of 3 headlines and 2 descriptions, at 30 characters and 90 characters, respectively.

Following the success of the RSA Beta, Google announced yet another new format: Improved Expanded Text Ads. This ad type allows for an input of 3 headlines (30 characters each) and 2 descriptions (90 characters each). While similar to RSAs, IETAs allow for static text rather than Google-curated combinations.

Why Are These Formats Important?

The new formats offer quite a few benefits.

More real estate

Taking up more space on the results page has a few benefits: It shows brand credibility and promotes a higher chance of user interaction. With more text lines and an increased character limit, ads can now take up more space on the Search Engine Results page and push competitors further down the page.

Ad copy testing

More space also allows for more in-depth creative testing to find the winning version of ad copy. RSAs can curate thousands of ad variations, making the testing process easier through automation. However, variations of Improved Expanded Text Ads must be manually entered.

Potential for increased CTR

This is the biggest ad change since 2016, when Google first introduced Expanded Text Ads and advertisers saw CTR increase. CTR is expected to increase even further with the new ad formats and the ability to provide more information to users than before. Here at AmsiveDigital, a case study showed a 19.5% CTR increase when using the new ETA format compared to traditional ETAs.

Your competitors are using them

Many companies have already adopted these new formats and Bing has quickly followed suit with improved ETAs as well. Don’t get left behind.

Considerations to Keep in Mind

Improved ETAs give the advertiser more control

Improved ETAs and RSAs differ mostly in who controls the testing. For an ETA, the advertiser has more control over which copy is being used. With an RSA, Google uses its internal algorithms to determine which combination of copy performs best.

Our advice? Include both ad types in your marketing mix to test what performs best for your vertical or product.

Headline 3 and Description line 2 will not always show

Google refers to Headline 3 Description 2 as “optional” and says that they will only appear when allowed. This means that in some instances, the line will be replaced by an ellipses (…). When creating ads, you should ensure that headline 3 and description 2 are not vital messaging components of the ad. We recommend using headline 3 to highlight things such as your brand URL, which, if left off, won’t impact your main message or CTA.

Third-party Integrations

If you leverage third-party management software to manage your Google campaigns, be sure to check your third-party software capabilities to ensure tracking remains consistent.

Use Labels

Consider using labels in Google Ads to augment ease of analyzing data.

Regular ETAs are staying

The old ETA format (2 headlines and 1 description) can still be implemented. Consider testing new ad formats to see how they perform against traditional ones.

Consumers’ devices are getting more ingrained in their lives, and their expectations for relevant ad messaging are growing more exacting. Ensure your business is equipped to stay at the forefront of digital marketing innovation and keep up with consumer expectations.

At Amsive Digital, we have been testing improved ETAs since August 2018, and optimizing our clients’ ad formats based on our findings. If you want to ensure your brand advertising is using the most innovative ad products out there, contact us today.