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Google Defaults Responsive Search Ads

Google Defaults Responsive Search Ads

By   February 18th, 2021

Today, Google announced that going forward, Responsive Search Ads (RSA) would be the default option for newly created ads in Google ads and Google ads editor. Here’s a breakdown of what we know about the change and what you can do to your account to make sure you’re ready.

We don’t see this as a major change, rather it is a continuation of a trend towards increased automation that we’ve been seeing from Google for a while. Responsive Search Ads, and recent match-type changes, in a lot of ways make our lives easier as marketers. We don’t have to worry about having every combination and variation of creative or keyword. We don’t need to do extensive A/B testing because Google’s machine learning takes care of the work for us.

As a marketer, it’s another sign that it is time to embrace the automation.

Remind me, what are Responsive Search Ads again?

Launched about three years ago, Responsive Search Ads allow the marketer to input multiple headlines and multiple descriptions. The ads are dynamically created at the time of serving for each user’s query and context. As a result of this customization, Google claims up to 5-15% higher click-through rates vs standard Enhanced Text Ads (ETAs).

Each ad can contain 3 to 15 headlines and 2-4 descriptions that are combined on the fly. Here’s more about the format from Google.

Should I expect a change in performance?

With this change, Google is not adjusting the auction dynamics. As a result, you should not see any change in performance. However, Google does expect that RSAs perform better than enhanced text ads and so you should ensure you have full coverage with responsive search ads.

Here’s an analysis we did about the performance of responsive search ads that aligned with Google’s claims of increased clicks and conversions compared with enhanced text ads, especially on non-brand terms.

What do I need to do to my account?

You don’t need to make any changes to your existing campaigns. That said, Google recommends each ad group have at least one responsive search ad for best performance so you should take a look at your ad groups and make sure that you’ve got complete coverage. 

Looking at our customer base, the majority of spend is still running through enhanced text ads so there’s still plenty of room for adoption which is also probably why Google is making this change. 

Marin can help you with an audit of your account to determine which adverbs need additional responsive search ads. 

How do I write a good RSA?

We’ve written a whole white paper on the topic and have additional suggestions here but I can summarize the top tips:

  • Variety Is good: The benefit of RSAs is to provide the right message to each user, so make sure you have many different messages for the system to choose from not just close variations on the same theme
  • Use pinning sparingly: Pinning allows you to ensure that a headline or description is always shown but it takes away flexibility for Google’s machine learning to do its thing. We recommend only using this when you have strict regulatory or compliance reasons to do so. 
  • Review performance regularly Google doesn’t offer as much visibility on the performance of individual elements as we would like, but you can get an idea of what’s working and what’s not. Be sure to review performance regularly and swap out underperforming assets. 

Last year Google enhanced responsive search ads, giving you the ability to use add customizers like countdown timers and location extensions as part of the elements in responsive search ads 

But I like control, do I have to use RSAs?

No, you can still create enhanced text ads. Google has not provided a Sunset date for the creation of new ads nor do we expect this format to be deprecated anytime in the near future.

Need help navigating these changes? Click here to get some help.