Google Ads is the most widely recognized platform used for SEM marketing. The innovation and flexibility of the platform are two of the many features that draw people to utilize it. Google prides itself on always creating new ways for advertisers to position their content to their target audience at the right moment.  At the end of 2018, Google released the newest ad format in Responsive Search Ads (RSA). These new ads have begun to revolutionize the structure and capabilities an advertiser has. 

For many years, the main ad format used for Google search campaigns was the expanded text ad format. Expanded text ads, or ETA’s for short, consist of three headlines and two descriptions. The biggest advantage responsive ads have to offer, is the ability to test up to 15 different headlines and 4 descriptions. Beyond this, Google will deliver ads with the most relevant material that will make a user engage based on their algorithms, the users keyword history, device, and online behaviors. For example, someone who is searching for apartments that allow pets will be more likely to click on an ad that has “Pet-Friendly Apartments” in their headline compared to an ad that does not. The algorithm is capable of recognizing the user’s needs and thus can dynamically create the necessary message that will engage the user. Google has reported seeing responsive ads having engagement levels 5-15% higher than that of a normal ETA. 

With 43,680 different combinations of ad copy, there are countless possibilities of different ad messages to deliver on. Advertisers can view each variation of headlines and descriptions under the “view assets details” option in the Google Ads platform. Here, advertisers can see the impressions share each combination garnished. These insights should not only be used for ideas on refreshing ad copy, but also in testing the strength of keywords associated with the campaign. The extra real estate provides a great opportunity to see how each keyword performs when being served. When creating RSA’s, use as many keywords as available since responsive ads with multiple unique headlines and descriptions tend to be higher engaging. If there is a main headline or message that the ad is trying to convey, the advertiser also has the choice to pin headlines. This will ensure that the headline pinned will always be present whenever an ad delivers an impression. Just remember the third headline and second description might not always show depending on the user’s device type. Google also provides a quality score to each responsive ad that is created. It includes tips and recommendations on ways to construct and improve the effectiveness of your responsive ads. 

Keep in mind, a responsive search ads purpose is not to replace all other ad formats but to compliment them. Best practices promote that advertisers have one responsive search ad per ad group. Since Google is already testing alternative ad creatives, there is no need to have more than one per ad group. If fact, more than one can actually hurt your ads performance by preventing proper optimizations from taking place. Hindering the amount of ad formats dedicated to your campaign will also limit your level of competitiveness when bidding in auctions. 

Responsive search ads are just another example of Google’s continuation in moving towards a more automated approach when it comes to advertising. These ads showcase us what the future of advertising could look like. The automatic optimization and removal of manual A/B split testing are indications of how advertising is moving towards a more “machine learning” AI strategy. Responsive search ads reflect this belief while still providing advertisers a level of control and flexibility. It becomes a nice blend of the creativity of the message the advertiser provides with the most up to date, industry leading, smart learning technology. Together, they give advertisers the necessary tools to reach engaging users at the right place, at the right time.