Since 18 February 2021, Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) are now the default ad type when looking to create ads for a Search campaign.
Advertisers can still create new Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) and edit existing ones but they’re being pushed aside nevertheless.
Introduced in 2016, ETA is an ad format that allows you to preview the complete ad. You not only have more control over the text and how it’s displayed – but you can also pick and choose which text assets to place in the headlines and descriptions. Moreover, the text assets don’t need to be combinable, which is the case with RSAs.
So what are RSAs and what does this mean for advertisers moving forward?
Traditionally, the advertiser would write a combination of headlines and body copy and multiple stand-alone versions of ads would be created.
Google’s algorithm would figure out which ad performs amongst them.
With RSAs, each piece of headline and description is considered an “asset” and Google dynamically combines these “assets” based on search intent.
In a single RSA, you can provide up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions.
The more you enter, the more Google’s machine learning algorithm will match your ads and serve the most relevant dynamic ads to your potential customers.
The hard part?
As each headline and description asset can be mixed and matched automatically by Google, they need to make sense on their own.
This requires a little more thinking when writing the copy.
The key elements of Expanded Text Ads when compared to Responsive Search Ads :
|Responsive Search Ads
|Number of headlines (in setup)
|Up to 3 (30 characters each)
|Up to 15 (30 characters each)
|Number of descriptions (in setup)
|Up to 2 (90 characters each)
|Up to 4 (90 characters each)
|Number of headlines shown
|Up to 3
|Number of descriptions shown
|Up to 2
|Maximum length of ad shown
|Arrangement of assets
|Static (as written down)
|Control over text asset combination
Google’s rationale behind Responsive Search Ads (RSAs)
As Google favors a shift towards machine learning and automation, many advertisers feel this will give them less control over their marketing campaigns. Google claims that machine learning can improve campaign performance in terms of relevancy, clicks and conversions.
Consumer needs and priorities are continuously changing, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses. Google reasons that its push towards RSAs will allow advertisers a better way to adapt to changing customer demands and shifting market trends without creating individual static ads and testing them out manually.
Moreover, Google wants more advertisers to use RSAs (especially novice advertisers) so that it gives their machine learning algorithms more data to work with. This way Google can make more recommendations related to account performance.
How RSAs can help your business
You can tailor your headlines and description copy to your customers’ locations or locations of interest.
Multiple headlines and descriptions options allow your ads the opportunity to compete in more auctions and match more queries, thus reaching more potential customers.
You can increase ad group performance as you attract more clicks and conversions that your existing text ads aren’t capturing – this is because responsive search ads help you compete in more auctions.
Moda Furnishings, a British furniture designer and importer, wanted to increase sales from its e-commerce site. The brand reused content from its expanded text ads to create responsive search ads and added them across its ad groups.
Moda Furnishings has seen clickthrough rates increase 96% while sales have grown over 3,000%.
Jonathan Brierley, CEO of Moda Furnishings said, “We’ve seen significant improvement across all key metrics since adding responsive search ads. From site traffic to sales, responsive search ads have outperformed expanded text ads.”
How to make the most of this new development
Leverage RSAs to test out a diverse mix of messages regularly. This will not only help advertisers improve their ads, but it will also allow Google to better match a message to a particular search or user.
Continue creating and testing ETAs as they could outperform the machine learning-based RSAs. Ideally, like advertisers, you should supplement your ad groups with RSAs but continue to test two to three ETAs in each ad group. This will allow you to optimize your ad copy while also benefiting from Google’s machine learning-driven ad copy testing at the same time.
Use Google’s tools such as their Ad strength tool which takes relevance, quantity, and diversity of ad copy and provides a score (ranging from Poor to Excellent) for your RSAs. As per Google, “Advertisers who improve Ad strength for their Responsive Search Ads from ‘Poor’ to ‘Excellent’ see 9% more clicks and conversions on average”. Also, use location insertion to increase the relevancy of your ads.
If you are interested in writing effective ad copy, check our article – The Main Purpose of Your Ad Copy – To Get it Clicked
Responsive search ads can bring in more leads and improve your conversion rates. Although it comes at the price of lesser control, its machine-learning mechanism can make it easy to quickly test your message and offers at a large scale.