Expanded Text Ads vs. Responsive Search Ads

Updated: Jul 27

In August of 2021, Google announced that it would be transitioning to responsive search ads as the exclusive type of Search ad, beginning on July 1, 2022, and that expanded text ads would be phased out.


If you are an advertiser currently running expanded text ads – don’t panic! Your existing ads will continue running as usual and their performance should not be negatively impacted. With that being said, you will no longer be able to create these ads or make edits to existing ads. While this transition may require some additional work in the form of creating new ads, it also offers a great opportunity to up-level your existing search ads and reach new audiences with the flexibility that responsive search ads offer.


What is a responsive search ad?


Responsive search ads appear within the SERP the same way that expanded text ads do, but they offer advertisers the ability to provide up to 15 headlines and five descriptions that Google will pull from to automatically generate the most relevant ad, based on a search query. This means that these ads are able to be served to more potential customers or clients and in a manner that targets their search more specifically. If there are certain assets of an ad that should always be displayed in a certain position, Google offers the ability to pin assets to ensure that, if they are included in a generated ad, they will be shown in that position.


Google will also offer a rating of the strength of each responsive search ad, ranging from “Poor” to “Excellent.” This rating is indicative of how well the ad is reaching users who are searching for the keywords within the ad group. With these ratings, Google provides suggestions for specific ways to improve ad strength, whether that be including more relevant keywords in headlines or creating more unique headlines and descriptions.


What is the difference between a responsive search ad and an expanded text ad?


Expanded text ads offer advertisers up to three headlines and three descriptions, all of which will be shown each time the ad is served, regardless of the search query or what Google knows about the searcher. While these ads give advertisers more control over what exactly is shown to users, more time may be needed to test combinations of headlines and descriptions that garner the results that they are looking for, and they may be shown to a more narrow audience than a responsive search ad would. We know that 15% of searches everyday are new and have never been searched before, so handing over more of that control to Google and the AI gives advertisers a better chance at staying ahead of the game and keeping pace with trends.


With the rise of artificial intelligence in the digital marketing world, we know this is likely just one of many shifts that will occur to make the paid advertising process even more efficient and automated – be sure to stay tuned to the Avenue blog to stay up to date on current trends and what’s to come!


Please note that Avenue has no affiliation with any products, services, or websites referenced in this blog post. Avenue is a digital marketing agency in Portland using business as a force for good. Our proprietary suite of paid advertising, search engine optimization (SEO) and social media services help brands and businesses of all sizes grow sustainably and successfully. For more information, we invite you to visit our services page.