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Expanded Text Ads are Google Search ads that replaced the shorter standard Google text ad several years ago. However, Google is sunsetting Expanded Text Ads this week! Check out this post to learn more about what this means for lawyers and how your firm should respond moving forward.
As the saying goes, what’s the only constant in life? Change. This could not be more true about Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords). In an ever-changing environment that even keeps seasoned advertisers on their toes, it is no surprise that Google is again making a seismic shift with the end of Expanded Text Ads.
In this post, we are helping you better understand what this change means for your law firm’s PPC marketing efforts, as well as offering a few strategies for adapting in the weeks and months to come.
Background of Expanded Text Ads
Back in 2016 (the Google AdWords days), Google announced and launched Expanded Text Ads (ETAs). Google Search ads became two times bigger than the then-current Google standard text ad. ETAs included a bigger headline and a lengthened description, which offered marketers two new 30-character headlines and an 80-character descriptive text with an overall 140-character (and later 170-character) limit for ad copy! By early 2017, new ETAs replaced the old Google Ad.
A few years later, Google improved its Expanded Text Ads by making them even larger. With this change, it offered advertisers an additional headline, more descriptive text for their campaigns, and a new 300-character maximum ad length.
However, by the spring of 2021, ETAs were replaced by Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) as the default ad type on the Google Ads platform, and the company later announced it would sunset ETAs in June 2022.
What to Expect When Expanded Text Ads Sunset
Beginning on June 30, marketers and law firms will be unable to create new Expanded Text Ads or edit existing ones. However, ETAs will continue to be served in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and ETAs performance reporting will continue (at least for the time being). Your law firm will still be able to pause existing ETAs after this date, as well as resume those campaigns in the future. However, Google strongly encourages all advertisers to transition to Responsive Search Ads and we suspect ETAs will be fully retired soon enough.
The Replacement for Expanded Text Ads
Responsive Search Ads are the new wave following the end of ETAs. Given that RSAs have been the default ad type for over a year and Google continues to encourage this transition, this is likely no surprise to most legal marketers.
Responsive Search Ads are intended to be flexible ads that automatically adapt to show more relevant, effective messages to potential clients. With RSAs, you create multiple headlines and descriptions. Google will then test these headlines and descriptions in various permutations to determine which combinations perform the best. You can learn more about how RSAs work in this resource from Google.
Things to Consider While Shifting to RSAs
As your law firm navigates the transition to RSAs, there will undoubtedly be a learning period. However, if you are working with an experienced marketer, such as the members of our Justia Amplify team, this transition should be smooth for your firm. As we wait to see the full impact of the end of ETAs, here are a few things to consider about RSAs:
Ad Strength: RSAs are each assigned an ad strength ranging from “incomplete” or “poor” up to “excellent”. Ad strength ostensibly measures the relevance, quality, and diversity of the copy used in your Responsive Search Ad. Stated another way, ad strength is intended to help you determine whether your ads follow Google’s best practices.
However, Ad Strength may not be all that important for your law firm’s PPC marketing success. While most generally recommend that you have at least one ad in your campaign group that is rated “good” or even “excellent,” Ad Strength is only a best practice metric that does not necessarily cause improved ad performance and is not as impactful as Quality Score on ad performance.
Pinning: When you create a new RSA, the ad defaults to allow headlines and descriptive texts to appear in any order. However, you can take more control of your RSAs by pinning headlines and descriptions to certain positions within your Responsive Search Ad.
While pinning sounds ideal for law firms that want to have full control over their messaging, it may be too good to be true. Google does not recommend pinning for most advertisers and studies have found that ads without pinning enabled get more impressions – some have observed as many as double the impressions on an unpinned ad versus one utilizing pinning. Additionally, pinning may result in decreased conversions and increased costs. Some have even discovered that unpinned ads are generally preferred by Google’s system and receive a greater ad strength rating.
- Dynamic Keyword Insertion: Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) allows you to customize your ads to better match a searcher’s query by changing the ad text with the use of certain keyword insertion variables. If you have an experienced internal marketer that is very comfortable with PPC advertising, or if you work with an external marketing agency, we suggest testing DKI within your RSAs copy.
A/B Testing: For many years, search engine marketers have based their A/B testing efforts on the assumption that impression volume is determined primarily by keywords. In turn, they have focused heavily on analyzing conversion rates or keywords per impression.
However, the assumption that keywords primarily control impressions is false with RSAs. Legal marketers should heavily focus on the cost per action and return on ad spend when analyzing A/B testing data to determine ad performance.
Reports: Pay attention to your reports to better understand your ad performance following this transition. Two of the most useful reports about your new Google Ads campaign performance in the future will be the Asset Label Report and the Combination Report.
Your Asset Label Report offers insights based on real data and campaign performance. The Combination Report allows you to analyze the different variations used in your RSAs. You should see more than 15 variations in this report! If you don’t have any data in your Combination Reports after two weeks, then it is likely that your ad’s Quality Score is too low for it to be served.
Final Thoughts: Why Do You Care?
The shift from Expanded Text Ads to Responsive Search Ads is a substantial change in the PPC landscape. While it is always important to be in tune with the ever-evolving best practices for effective search engine marketing, it is doubly important to stay up to date during times of significant change to Google Ads PPC.
The Justia Amplify team is standing by, ready to help you and your law firm navigate this shift and future changes. To learn more about what our team of PPC experts can offer to your firm, contact us today.Related Posts
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