How to Best Use Google’s New Ad Format – Responsive Search Ads


Big changes are coming to Google Ads! Google announced at their Marketing Live event that there will be a new type of search ad format coming in the next few months.

Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) are expanding Google’s AI ad optimization even further. Previously, you could choose to optimize which ad was better automatically according to Google’s AI algorithm, but this update will allow Google to choose the best headlines and description lines among multiple options to give you the best ad for each person searching.

Google Adwords Responsive Search ads

With this new ad format, Google will allow you to enter up to 15 different headlines, and up to 4 different description lines, and will test every different combination to see which is best – if fully utilized, this would be 43,680 permutations! That is a lot of ad testing that you no longer have to do manually. Google will also determine which ad permutation is best based on multiple factors like keyword, device, past browsing behavior, and other signals.

Google Adwords Responsive Search ads in action

Plus, Google will incentivize you to use RSAs by allowing you more characters and more ad space. RSAs can show up to three 30-character headlines, compared to two with the current extended text ads (ETAs). Both types allow a display URL with two 15-character path fields. RSAs can show up to two 90 character description sections, compared to one 80-character description through ETAs. In total, RSAs can show up to 300 characters compared to a maximum of 150 characters for ETAs. That’s a 100% increase in ad space, just for using the new format!

Your ad will not always show the full 300 characters every time it shows up, however. Google will determine how many headline and description sections to show based on the device being used and how many other search engine results page features (maps, featured snippets, images, shopping listings, etc) are showing up. So a mobile device with many extra features may only show two headlines and a description, while a desktop with little to no extra features would show the full 300 characters.

Google AdWords screen shot

Google says that RSAs perform better too. They report that advertisers have increased their click-through rate (CTR) by 5-15% on average. Remember that this is an average, so not every business will see an increase in their CTR for switching to RSAs!

To take advantage of the new format, Google says the more headlines and descriptions that you enter, the better. They recommend at least 8-10 headlines, and at least 2-3 descriptions. If you can, it is best to fill up the full 15 headlines and 4 descriptions. But, you will want to make sure that you are highlighting different things in each headline and description, since multiple headlines will end up in the same ad, and each headline and each description will end up in an ad together. Everything you enter needs to work well together, so you don’t want to be too repetitive.

Some headlines or descriptions you write might only fit in a specific position in the ad. For instance, you might want to make sure that your brand name comes first every time in the headline. Google will allow you to pin headlines to a specific position (1, 2 or 3), and the same with descriptions (1 or 2). You will want to do this sparingly however, as this will limit the amount of testing that can be done.

So then, what’s next? Google is rolling out these new ads to everyone by the end of the year at the latest. If you are a Momentum client already, your campaign manager will let you know when it is available for you and will work on writing new ads with you at that time. If you are not a current client, keep checking your account, you might find them added to your account any time now.

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Momentum has become an industry leading source for web design and digital marketing for businesses. We utilize our knowledge to build traffic, leads, and brand awareness for our clients, but we also put some of that information out right here in our blog for anyone looking to learn.