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[Updated] Is Google prepping to phase out ETAs?

Ginny Marvin on
  • Categories: Channel: SEM, Google, Google Ads, Search Ads, Search Ads: General
  • This story is has been updated with a statement from Google.

    Several search marketers reported Friday that the “Text ad” option is not available from the Ads dropdown for Search campaigns in the Google Ads interface.

    Instead, the ad options from the Ads dropdown are limited to Responsive search ad (RSA) and Call ad. Frederick Vallaeys, CEO of Optmyzr, is among those seeing this change in his own account. Here’s a video of the experience he shared with us:

    https://searchengineland.com/figz/wp-content/seloads/2020/08/Ads-Optmyzr-Google-Ads.mp4
    Video: Frederick Vallaeys.

    The ability to create manual text ads (AKA expanded text ads, or ETAs) isn’t gone altogether in these cases, though. On the RSA creation screen, there is a link to “Switch back to text ads,” as shown in the screenshot below that Dan Thies, CIO of ResultFlow, shared with Search Engine Land.

    Screenshot: Dan Thies.

    What does it mean? At this point, we can’t say if this is a bug, a test or a change that will be rolling out more broadly. I haven’t been able to replicate it in any accounts. We have reached out to Google for more information and will update when we learn more.

    Why we care. While reiterating that we don’t know if this is an actual change or not yet, it still points to a shift that’s likely to come sooner or later. RSAs represent where Google is moving with machine learning and predictive marketing. With RSAs, ML is used to predict which combinations of titles and descriptions will resonate best with a searcher based on historical data and various signals available at the time of the auction. 

    ETAs/text ads aren’t going away right now, but you can bet your Google Ads COVID credits that Google is itching to put them in the backseat.

    Update 8/29/20: It is a test. A Google spokesperson confirmed with Search Engine Land that this is an experiment. “We’re always testing new ways to improve our experience for our advertisers and users, but don’t have anything specific to announce right now,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

    In addition to the link to return to text ads shown in the screenshot above, Google shared another view that also includes a link to get back to text ad creation.

    Screenshot: Google.

    Since publishing this, we’ve heard from several other marketers who are seeing this new treatment in their accounts. As we’ve been saying for more than a year now, RSAs aren’t going away and this is further indication of Google’s intention to eventually make them the primary ad format for Search campaigns. Microsoft has also adopted RSAs.

    If you’ve been holding off on RSAs or haven’t had luck with them, these resources may help:


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    About The Author

    Ginny Marvin
    Ginny Marvin is Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief, running the day to day editorial operations across all publications and overseeing paid media coverage. Ginny Marvin writes about paid digital advertising and analytics news and trends for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.