What are responsive search ads?
Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) are a dynamic ad format released a little over a year ago by Google to help automate the ad creation process, and to help optimize ad copy to the best related terms being searched.
The RSA feature has been in “beta” for well over a year now, but it’s proving to be the go-to ad format for many advertisers, and likely will become the default ad format for Google ads in the future, based on the positive results being seen, and the move toward everything automation.
Components of and how to use RSAs
The Responsive Search Ads format allows for multiple headlines (up to 15) and multiple descriptions (up to 4). Then it let’s Google do the work of putting the most relevant headlines and descriptions together based on the search term. This way the ad can be catered more directly to the term being searched, which increases the likelihood of it being clicked on and potentially converting, because of it’s increased relevance to what was searched.
Here’s what the possibilities look like using responsive ads vs. the standard expanded text format:
|Responsive (each ad)
|Expanded Text Ads (if you built 3 ads)
|Headlines- 3 each
|Descriptions- 2 each
|Number of ad possibilities: >30,000
|Number of ads- 3
Using this format is also a huge time saver, you just write up to 15 headlines (ideally at least 5-8), and as many as 4 descriptions, and then let Google do the work.
Creation and implementation
The one feature that has proven to be most effective, and has increased performance, is the ability to pin a headline. Whether it be your company name or a more general theme, this feature makes sure it only shows up in a certain spot. This is particularly useful if there’s an element that makes sense to show up in the first spot but wouldn’t make sense in the second or third spot when it’s shown.
During the creation of these ads, hover over the space just to the right of each element, a thumbtack icon will appear (circled in the image below). Click on it, and you’ll see a drop-down expansion, with the options of positions you can pin specific headlines to. Meaning you can choose to have certain headlines only appear in the Headline 1, 2 or 3 spots instead of alternating between the three. Here’s a quick visual (you can pin descriptions also):
Google explains in depth how to create responsive ads here and explains what is and is not allowed for content, punctuation, etc.
Using these ads in combination with the standard expanded text ad (ETA) format will give you the opportunity to test new copy while still maintaining some control. Google provides impression metrics for each ad and headline, so you know which are being served the most often, and which combinations perform best.
From this information an expanded text ad can be created using the most served elements from the responsive ads that Google has determined resonate well. Then the elements you used to create the ETA can be replaced in the responsive format with new copy to test. Thus creating a cycle of continual testing that will help you optimize your ads by seeing what resonates best with the keywords and/or audiences being targeted.
And the results….
The statistics show that using this format increases performance significantly (~5-15% increase in both CTR and conversion rate) and often at a lower Cost per Click (CPC), especially if you know all of the features and how to use them effectively.
The responsive format is also available for Google’s display network and those have seen similar results as the search format, with higher click-through and conversion rates.
Moral of the story: If you haven’t started using this ad format, you should. It will save you time, improve ad performance, give you an easy way to test ad copy, and likely save you some money. It’s a win all around.