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Summary of Changes

Starting on June 30th, 2022, Google will begin their sunset of Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) in favor of their dynamic offering, Responsive Search Ads (RSAs).  Existing ETAs in advertiser’s accounts will continue to serve, but will no longer be editable and new ad units won’t be allowed to be created. 

Google continues to roll out  changes to their platform with a big focus on automation, and this update is no different.  Google cites 15% of search queries every day are new searches never seen before.  The response to this consumer behavior is to leverage machine learning; to reach searchers with the most relevant ad at the right moment.

 

Challenges Advertisers Will Face

As with any update Google makes, the biggest thing us as advertisers need to keep in mind is how it affects us and our clients. Listed below are a few things I believe need to be kept in mind as we approach June 30th:

 

Lack of Control:

As a standard with changes related to automation, the largest impact seen from the sunset of ETAs is the lack of control offered by their RSA counterparts. While advertisers still have control over the headline and description line inputs, the order in which these appear are left to Google to decide (there are options to pin headlines and description lines to certain slots, but this is recommended to be done in moderation). This can be detrimental to multiple advertisers, such as ones who have proven having a price point in their ads improves performance.  With this change, the price point is harder to guarantee to show.

 

Lack of Transparent Reporting:

Reporting for RSAs still leaves a lot to be desired.  Google does offer suggestions on how to improve your ad strength and even offers you ideas (although in my experience, the ideas offered are relatively weak). However, the big piece of the puzzle that’s missing is the lack of insight into what combinations of headlines and description lines perform the best. This can often make copywriting feel a bit like a shot in the dark, where we generate headlines and description lines we think work well but ultimately can’t prove out their efficiency.

Example of some of the ideas Google offers to improve ad strength

 

Difficulty With A/B Testing:

Finally, the ease of ad copy A/B tests will ultimately take a hit.  With ETAs, ad copy tests were arguably the easiest and quickest tests to set up. We take two ads, tweak an input, and then compare the results after reaching statistical significance. With RSAs, this is still possible, but a bit more cumbersome. A/B testing RSAs will require all inputs to be pinned (more on this later), which can lead to poor ad strength labels from Google. We know ad strength is a factor in Quality Score, so testing like this could ultimately lead to detrimental performance.



Potential Workarounds

Google leaving in the ability to pin headlines and description lines to certain slots is ultimately a lifeline to folks who still want control of placement in their ads.  A few things that can be done to back some control with RSAs:

 

Pinning All Headlines and Description Lines: 

Utilize all headlines and description lines, but pin each input to a specific slot. Imagine an ad with all 15 headlines and 4 description lines being utilized; we pin 5 to each headline slot and 2 to each description slot. What we’re left with is essentially a hybrid between an ETA and an RSA. 

 

Pinning 3 Headlines and 2 Description Lines:

Create an RSA with exactly 3 headlines and 2 description lines, pinning each input to a unique slot. This is essentially an ETA with extra steps.

However, both workarounds have their drawbacks. Keep in mind that a few factors that go into ad strength are the number of headlines and description lines used, and the number of pinned headlines used. So while the above scenarios might be effective in keeping some element of control when generating ad copy, it might not be worth the hit to Quality Score potentially seen.

 

What’s Next?

From Smart Shopping in 2018 to the phrase/BMM match type change in 2021 to the ETA sunset in 2022, Google has shown that they’re marching forward towards an advertising landscape that fully embraces automation.  I don’t think this is an inherently bad thing; as Google mentions, we live in an ever-evolving digital landscape that’s very difficult to keep up with.  Automation simply makes different facets of our industry easier to manage.

It’s difficult to speculate what the next big thing on the docket is for automation, but my gut feeling is telling me that extensions could be the next feature to be impacted.  We already have automated extensions, which I almost universally disable, but I envision a world where manual inputs for extensions are sunset.  The ETA sunset has shown that Google believes ad copy to be an area where automation is important, so why not embrace it with ad extensions?

Dynamic extensions settings are already hidden within the Google Ads UI; could they become mandatory to opt into in the future?

In the short term, I wouldn’t be surprised if Google completely does away with pins in RSAs, or at least limits the number of pins allowed per RSA.  Ultimately, the ability to pin headlines and description lines makes the RSA change a sort of moot point, as us advertisers have the ability to make a static ad unit.

Automation isn’t an inherently bad thing.  It may be frustrating as an advertiser to lose a grip over things we’re accustomed to having full control over, but ultimately these changes are made to make our jobs easier and to make our ads more relevant to our audience.   

Related Posts

In our continuing series of examining Google Search Trends to gain insights into the top keywords queried in the USA, we present our findings for May 2022. Every day, we capture the top three keyword phrases in terms of search volume as reported by Google Trends (US Only). Each term has an estimated query volume attached to it, which we also record. The number scale tops out at 10,000,000+ with a lower limit of 200,000+ (sometimes 100,000+). After the conclusion of the month, we look at the phrases we collected along with their volumes to get an understanding of what drove queries for the month.   May 2022 Overview Looking through the top searched phrases in May 2022, it is difficult not to fixate on the topics that may upset our safety.  From the JIF Peanut Butter recall to the outbreak of Monkeypox to the Cryptocurrency crashes, there were many top queries where information was needed to understand the issue and take proper courses of action.   On the flip side, there are many phrases that reinforce our desire to learn more about events.  The Met Gala was a top queried topic for two days in a row to start off the month. Two horse races and two car races also made the daily top 3 in May - another sign that these annual events are reestablishing their hold on our attention like they did before the pandemic. Lastly, we cannot ignore that the tragic mass shooting events in both Buffalo and Uvalde, TX drove people to Google to learn more. Both events claimed the top queried phrases on the days they occurred and we’ll analyze what Google Trends reported on May 14th and 24th.   Five Wonderful Holidays In Month Number 5 Holidays always propel search volume from users seeking more information about the day.  Here are the top 5 from May: May the 4th be with you - 5/3/2022 - 500,000+ queries Cinco de Mayo - 5/4/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Mother's Day - 5/7/2022 - 10,000,000+ queries Happy Mother's Day - 5/8/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Memorial Day - 5/29/2022 - 10,000,000+ queries  The unofficial Star Wars day starts the list on the 4th, even though Trends reported it on the 3rd.  Mother’s Day gets two appearances on our list. The one on the 7th was driven by clicks to a Google Doodle. Memorial Day finished off the month with a Doodle of its own. The team dug a little deeper into Cinco de Mayo since it also made the list.  Here’s the chart of search interest into this holiday over the last 5 years: With a dip in popularity in 2019, the topic has seen increasing search volume since then. AMP Agency wrote a blog post about Recalibrating Cinco de Mayo with information about the holiday and how we as marketers can promote celebrating the holiday responsibly.  This notion may be driving some increased search interest in the holiday as people seek more information about it.   Top Queried Video Entertainment It was a low month for the number of film titles or TV shows making the daily top 3 in May 2022.  Here are the three queries that made it. Dr Strange - 5/5/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Stranger Things season 4 - 5/26/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Fantastic Beasts - 5/30/2022 - 200,000+ queries The latest installment of the Marvel movie franchise was released near the beginning of the month. We don’t think Dr. Strange will be the subject of the biggest money making film of the summer.  That honor, we predict, will go to Thor. Check out this prediction and more in our Summer 2022 Trends report. The long awaited Stranger Things Season 4 debuted on May 27th and Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore started streaming on the 30th.   Met Gala After a cancellation in 2020 and a delayed to September event last year, The Met Gala returned to its typical May timeframe and drove users to see the latest in haute couture. Met Gala 2022 - 5/1/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Met Gala 2022 - 5/2/2022 - 5,000,000+ queries Comparing the daily query numbers to years past, the 5 million plus reported on May 2nd is the largest of the past 4 years.  This event’s popularity has hit a new high if we use search volume as our measure.   News Items Since there were a large number of queries for news items, we decided to include this list in our report for May 2022. Buffalo - 5/14/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Shooting - 5/14/2022 - 500,000+ queries Monkeypox - 5/18/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Texas school shooting - 5/24/2022 - 10,000,000+ queries News - 5/24/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Mona Lisa - 5/30/2022 - 200,000+ queries Johnny Depp Verdict - 5/31/2022 - 5,000,000+ queries Looking at this list, the majority of the topics are horrific.  Note that the same day of the Robb Elementary School shooting, the second most queried phrase was “News”.  We are not sure if that is an accurate query report or a glitch in the Daily Trends reporting but we present the data as we recorded it. There was an attempt to vandalize The Mona Lisa painting on the 30th and the verdict of the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial was handed down on the 31st.   Keywords Related to US Politics Along with News Items, topics aligned to the world of US Politics were also a popular category of queries: Roe v. Wade - 5/2/2022 - 5,000,000+ queries J. D. Vance - 5/3/2022 - 500,000+ queries Jen Psaki - 5/5/2022 - 500,000+ queries Pennsylvania primary - 5/17/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Madison Cawthorn - 5/17/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Beto O'Rourke - 5/24/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries The keyword with the most search volume of this list is Roe v. Wade, which was queried because of a leaked draft opinion that suggests the court will overturn the 1973 decision. It is reported that a decision will be made in June 2022 so we will report on what Google Trends published in our next report.   Crypto Collapse We can mark May 2022 as a month where the value of cryptocurrency took a tumble. Luna crypto - 5/10/2022 - 200,000+ queries Coinbase - 5/10/2022 - 200,000+ queries Bitcoin - 5/11/2022 - 500,000+ queries Each of these phrases is related to a drop in the value of these coins/companies.  We will continue to monitor the trends related to this subject in the months ahead.   NBA Playoffs and Finals The NBA playoffs has been a hot topic throughout the month of May 2022.  Here we present only the phrases that received 1 million queries or more that are NBA related - there are 19 of them: Warriors vs Grizzlies - 5/1/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Celtics - 5/9/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Warriors - 5/9/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Warriors - 5/11/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Miami Heat - 5/12/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Celtics - 5/13/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Warriors - 5/13/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Suns - 5/15/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Celtics - 5/15/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Celtics - 5/17/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Dallas Mavericks - 5/18/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Celtics - 5/19/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Celtics - 5/21/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Warriors - 5/22/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Celtics - 5/23/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Celtics - 5/25/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Warriors - 5/26/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Celtics - 5/27/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Celtics - 5/29/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Trying to stay objective here, but as Celtics fans, we’re totally caught up in the search interest of this topic this year.   What We Call Soccer What the rest of the world calls football is popular here in the States, at least from a search perspective. Real Madrid vs Man City - 5/4/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Liverpool - 5/14/2022 - 500,000+ queries Liverpool - 5/22/2022 - 500,000+ queries Champions League - 5/27/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Argentina vs Italy - 5/31/2022 - 500,000+ queries Since the World Cup is scheduled for November of this year, we predict that month will be filled with football-related queries. You have been warned.   Horse Racing With in-person sports events back to full capacity, the query volumes for the famous horse races in May have recovered: Kentucky Derby 2022 - 5/6/2022 - 5,000,000+ queries Kentucky Derby 2022 horses - 5/6/2022 - 500,000+ queries Preakness 2022 - 5/20/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries We found it interesting that there was a specific keyword about the horses in this year’s Kentucky Derby. Then again, with online gambling becoming legal in more states, this instance may not be so surprising.   Car Racing Not just horses but also cars, racing was popular in May 2022. Miami Grand Prix - 5/8/2022 - 200,000+ queries Indy 500 - 5/28/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries The Formula One Miami Grand Prix had its debut and the Indy 500 had its 106th running this year.  Again, with people back in the stands, these events have regained their search popularity.   Odds & Ends Finally - we present this category of phrases that we felt were worth showcasing in our report but didn’t fit nicely into an established category: Jif peanut butter recall - 5/21/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Most times, we are excited to see food related queries make the daily top 3 in Google Trends. Um, not this month. Lunar eclipse - 5/15/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries The Lunar eclipse spurred people to seek more information about the astronomical event. ATOLL - 5/29/2022 - 500,000+ queries We weren’t sure what to make of this query when we saw it on Google Trends but with some investigation, we found that this word was the solution to Wordle 345.  We guess that people hadn’t seen that word before and didn’t know what it meant (a ring-shaped island). We think it is fitting to end this report of the 5th month of 2022 with a 5 letter word.  Wait a minute - how did we end April 2022? Thanks for reading. If you liked this article, we utilize search trends data for all of our clients and we invite you to learn more about our SEO services. Until next month.

If you’re curious, the “How Might We…” (HMW) framework for creative problem solving originates back to the work of Sidney J. Parnes, Ph.D, in his Creative Behavior Guidebook published in 1967. Dr. Parnes referred to the framework as “Invitation Stems” or “How Mights”. Dr. Parnes' work also led to the additional questions of “How might I?”, “How might you?”, “How might our team?”, and “How might our customers?”. Today, HMW remains one of the most powerful tools for kicking off a process of “challenge mapping.” “How might we…” is the kind of question that lacks hard requirements at first and can feel unanswerable. However, if you get the right people engaged, the answers that surface will lead to progress.    How does AmpXD tackle HMW Questions? We start by making sure that the whole team understands the question and starts on common footing. Some follow up questions may be necessary. Have we answered an HMW question like this for other clients or internally at AMP?  Can we rely on past experience or will the answer require us to build from scratch?  What perspectives will be required to generate the right answer? Engineering? Design? Content? Business objectives? Next, we assemble the team. The best HMW teams represent all who stand to benefit from the answer as well as those who could help us get there. They are a cross section of the organization as well as users, customers, and subject matter experts. Whether you use an agency like AMP or decide to go it alone, there are a few key attributes that each team member must have. Each team member needs to be open, have broad and relevant expertise, and be fearless about sharing ideas and opinions in public.  The last consideration for a successful outcome is access. The team will need access to: One another Leadership  Information Insight into what is possible.    Now that the team is assembled, what can we expect? Answers! If you’ve done the work to fully understand the question, assemble the right team, and provide access to resources, you can expect progress. Once we have a set of answers to our HMW question, we can start to sift for the right one.  Each answer must be measured against cost and timeline estimates. If you’ve come to the right answer, everyone will know it. If you don’t find the right answer, often you’ll be left with a new, better HMW question to work with. 

  AMP Agency’s Top Trends of Summer 2022 Predictions Report   AMP Agency has published a report as a part of their Search Insights service. This report is available for download and provides audience insights to help inform your marketing and business decisions for the coming season.   AMP Agency’s VP of SEO John Krochune thinks that search interest is a strong indicator of future trends.  “My team and I dive deep into historical search query data, using a variety of tools, to uncover trends. I think this public set of audience data is being underutilized in marketing and we are publishing this report to provide a wealth of information that other sources may not provide.”   The Top Trends of Summer 2022 report has insights on 40 topics across 8 different categories including travel, fashion, and entertainment.  The data presented in the report is pulled straight from Google’s Keyword Planner (US only) and is paired with our analysis of why we think the topic will increase in popularity this summer.   Download our Summer Trends report and learn more about our hot predictions for this coming season.