What will Google’s Responsive Search Ads mean for you?

How a digital marketing agency can use Google’s new Responsive Search Ads…

In our last article we gave an overview of how Google Ads work. In this article we focus on a recent change to Google Ads: the introduction of Responsive Search Ads – RSAs. Whether you are a marketer or part of a digital marketing agency, RSAs could have a major impact on the way you advertise in future.

  • What are RSAs
  • What are the benefits of RSAs
  • What is the format of RSAs
  • How to create an RSA
  • How to get the best performance from an RSA
  • What is the future of RSAs
  • How to prepare for RSAs

What are RSAs?

Firstly, it is important to understand that RSAs are currently in beta. So they are not currently available to every advertiser. If you want to be added to the beta then contact your Google rep. Otherwise, RSAs should be rolling out to all advertisers over the next few months.

RSAs will be Google’s largest and most flexible search ad format so far. They allow up to 15 headline variants and four description line variants to be created as the building blocks of your ad.

Google will then optimise and test each variant using machine learning, and will display the variant most likely to get a user to click through. Given that the number of headlines and descriptions can potentially be arranged into 43,680 different permutations, this presents a comprehensive amount of ad testing possibilities!

A user can retain an element of control over the advert by “pinning” headlines and description lines in a specific order – similar to the functionality currently available in Expanded Text Ads.

What are the benefits of RSAs?

Over time Google will learn which combinations of headlines and descriptions perform best and will display the most effective RSA message to different searchers according to their search keywords, their device, their past browsing behaviour, and other relevant signals.

According to Google, this use of Google automation to select adverts that are more likely to drive clicks will mean that Responsive Search Ads will have a 5–15% higher CTR than standard search ads.

What is the format of RSAs?

When displayed in a SERP, a Responsive Search Ad contains significantly more details than an Expanded Search Ad. It has the capacity to show up to three 30 character headlines, a display URL with two 15 character path fields, and up to two 90 character description fields. This equates to a possible 300 characters of total text – twice as long as an Expanded Search Ad.

How to create an RSA

Remember that RSAs are currently in beta and are therefore only able to be created in certain accounts. But once you have the capability all you need to do is go to Google Ads and visit the Ads tab. Select the blue “+” icon to create a new ad, then “Responsive Search Ad.”

You will then be able to create each component of an RSA, including up to 15 different headlines, the URL and display URL Path Fields, and up to 4 different descriptions. It is also possible to add a tracking template by expanding the Ad URL options. Then just save your RSA; it will be reviewed and, if approved, will then go live.

How to get the best performance from an RSA

Even though RSAs are still in beta there are lessons already being learned about their performance. Here are three things to bear in mind.

  1. “The more the better”. You need to create a minimum of 3 headlines and 2 descriptions – but you do have up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions so it’s best to use them all. The power of RSAs is the number of variants they are able to display, so you need to give them the opportunity to do just that.
  2. Use variety. Try to highlight something different in each headline and description. If all your headlines or descriptions are too similar you may find that Google doesn’t even show your ads. So be creative and highlight different values, offers, and call to actions. A good RSA contains a variety of unique messages that can be combined in many different ways. Also make your headlines and descriptions a variety of different lengths as this may enable an additional headline or description to be displayed.
  3. Use keywords wisely. Make sure you include a top keyword in at least two of your headlines. But also have at least three headlines that don’t include your keywords to ensure that your ads do not become overly repetitive.

What is the future of RSAs?

It is still early days for Responsive Search Ads – and important to acknowledge that they are still in beta. There will therefore continue to be refinements to the technology resulting in improved performance.

However, Google have made it clear that RSAs are here to stay. Since their launch, Responsive Search Ads have been extended into a variety of different languages including Danish, Dutch, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish and Turkish.

Google are also stating that RSAs should be seen as a supplementary to Expanded Text Ads, rather than replacing them. In fact when you start using RSAs you may also want to run some Expanded Text Ads in parallel, to compare performance.

So you will continue have a choice – but it would be wise to start preparing for RSAs now.

How to prepare for RSAs?

As preparation for RSAs the best thing you can to is to review your current ad performance. Once you identify your top performing ads you can use elements of those – such as key messages, effective value props, offers, and calls to action – to create high quality headlines and descriptions for your Responsive Search Ads. You will then be ready to set up RSAs as soon as they are available to you.

As we have seen from above, RSAs are coming and they will be here to stay. So we hope you can use the above to be ready for the off as soon as they are available to you.