Responsive Search Ads — The New Default

Google has announced that responsive search ads (RSAs) are now the default ad type for advertisers on the Google Search Network.

This means that when you next create an ad within Google Ads, you initially won’t see the option for it be an expanded text ad (ETA).

This marks a change for many advertisers, who may have previously only used ETAs. 

If this is a concern for you, worry not — we’re here to guide you through what this means for your advertising efforts. 

What are responsive search ads?

Introduced back in 2018, RSAs were a new way to show more relevant messages to customers. 

When you create an RSA, you’ll be asked to input multiple headlines and descriptions. These will be mixed-and-matched to create different versions of the ad. Over time, Google uses its machine learning to figure out which combinations work best.

You can provide up to 15 different headlines and up to four descriptions.

It’s important to note these can show in any combination or order, with up to three of your headlines and two of the descriptions making up the ad.

Why should you use them?

To start, RSAs save you time on ad copy testing. No longer do you need to create, monitor and analyse multiple different ad variants to discover what works best. 

Instead, once you’ve entered your assets (the headlines and descriptions), Google will take care of the rest.

Secondly, your ads may be more visually appealing. RSAs give Google greater flexibility in how your ads show on different devices. 

Finally, RSAs allow you to reach more potential customers, as Google says they can be eligible to compete in more auctions.

In fact, Google claims advertisers who use RSAs achieve up to 10% more clicks and conversions. 

Tips for responsive search ads

Here are some quickfire tips to help you get the most out of RSAs:

  • Ensure there’s real variation in your assets. Don’t just repeat the same message over and over with slightly different wording. More variety = more opportunities for Google to figure out what works best.
  • When writing the copy, be mindful of the fact assets can show in any order. (Although headlines will always appear above descriptions.)
  • If you have an asset that must appear in a particular position on the ad — either because it’s needed for the ad to make sense, or because you have regulatory requirements to fulfil — you can “pin” it to that position. 
  • Review your RSAs every few months. Google will tell you which assets are underperforming. Replace them with new assets.

What changes for you…

We have some good news for those who don’t want to give up ETAs: they are still available to create.

You just need to do a little more clicking to get to them. 

Within the Google Ads platform, you’ll initially only be given the option to create an RSA. But once you’re creating the ad, there’s the option to “switch back to text ads” at the top of the page.

And your existing ETAs will also continue to serve with no issue.

However, we fully expect more and more advertisers to embrace RSAs going forward.

This move also marks yet another step in the direction of increased automation and machine learning by Google. We wouldn’t be surprised if one day in the future Google kills off ETAs entirely.

After all, they recently sunsetted broad match modifier keywords — a move that surprised many in the industry, and one you can read about by clicking here.

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