Starting June 30th, 2022, you won’t be able to create expanded text ads (ETAs), which means responsive search ads (RSAs) will be the only option for creating new ads inside a standard search campaign.
If you want to learn how Google generates these ads, how you can measure their success, the pros and cons and how the switch from expanded text ads will affect performance, keep reading.
What are Responsive Search Ads?
RSAs adapt to show more text and more relevant messages to your potential customers. You can enter up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions. By combining these headlines and descriptions, Google is able to create up to 43,680 different ad combinations.
How does Google generate Responsive Search Ads?
Google Ads generates responsive search ads by using machine learning which automatically tests different combinations to learn which high performing ad copy combinations perform best for your audience. Simples!
Below is an example of how an RSA will appear on Google:
Pros and Cons of RSAs
As with any type of Google ad, there are both positives and negatives when it comes to responsive search ads:
Pros of Responsive Display Ads
When opting for a responsive search ad you take advantage of the fact that when you enter more descriptions and headlines, this results in more possible ad combinations. Google then chooses up to 2 descriptions and 3 headlines at a time that can appear in various orders and combinations.
The 15 headlines and 4 descriptions can be arranged in over 40,000 unique permutations. As well as this, with more headlines and descriptions you can trial a lot more ideas in a short space of time - with confidence that Google Ads will help generate the best-performing ads for your customers.
Cons of Responsive Display Ads
If you want to create an ad with very specific wording, it could be more beneficial to opt for a different type of ad, where you have more control over the finished product.
With RSAs you also don’t get to see every final ad before it is displayed to your customers on Google search. This can mean that your ads are potentially very similar to your competitors if your product or service offers similar features. Using a combination of high performing keywords, unique call to action phrases and promotion phrases will help to make your ads stand out.
How to create RSAs
RSA is the default ad type for search campaigns on Google. We have created a short guide below on setting up RSAs on your account:
On your Google Ads account, select/create the campaign you want and select Responsive search ad from the drop down menu
Enter up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions to your ad. Note: you can pin headlines and descriptions if you want them to appear in every ad combination - just hover over the headline/description and a pin icon will appear. However, you should consider if pinning is essential for your ad copy as Google has said this about "pinning" headlines and descriptions:
"Pinning one headline or description causes it to show only in that specific position, preventing other headlines or descriptions from showing in its place. Since pinning reduces the overall number of headlines or descriptions that can be matched to a potential customer’s search, pinning isn’t recommended for most advertisers."
“About responsive search ads”, Google Ads Help
Google generates a mobile and desktop preview for you so you can view how your ad will look for your customers.
Recommendations are generated and your ad is rated on how well Google predicts it will perform based on the information you have entered.
Making the switch from Expanded Text Ads to RSAs
With the switch from expanded text ads to RSAs on the way, it’s helpful to prepare yourself beforehand and familiarise yourself with the process. It’s easy to make the switch by using Google Ads Editor and export your expanded text ads in bulk.
Follow the steps below to give it a go:
- Select the ads that you’d like to convert
- Click Export as and select Export as responsive ads.
- Choose your file type and where you’d like to save the file.
- Fill in these missing fields:
- Long headline
- Business name
- Save the file with a new name.
- In the Google Ads Editor account manager, select the account where you’d like to import the file.
- Click Import and then From file…
- When the import is done, click Finish - tada!
How to report on performance on RSAs
Google has recently implemented a simplification of reports for responsive search ads performance and assets.
With the Google Ads reporting tool, you can see stats exclusive to your RSAs including top combinations, headlines and descriptions. To access this, go to Ads & extensions, add a filter for Ad types under Attributes, and select RSA.
Will switching to RSAs negatively affect performance?
There are differing opinions on whether or not RSAs perform better or worse than extended text ads. Whilst RSAs have better click-through rate compared to other ad types, they also have a lower conversion rate overall, and this can put some advertisers off opting for this type of ad. However a recent study by Optmyzr found that their RSAs had higher impressions, a better click-through rate, but a lower conversion rate - the same study also found that even with a slightly lower conversion rate, the 400% increase in impressions nets a lot of incremental conversions overall.
Similarly, a Wordstream study comparing the performance of RSAs to Standard Text Ads also found that RSAs had 283% more impressions per ad than the standard ads - despite the slightly lower Click Through Rate (CTR) overall for the RSAs, there was a better conversion rate on clicks, which ultimately drove more conversions.
This means that the switch to RSAs is not likely to negatively affect your overall performance, but we advise making the switch sooner rather than later to account for the machine learning period
The bottom line
Automation is something we’re seeing more frequently in the Google Ads platform, from performance max campaigns and smart campaigns, to automated bidding and now Google sunsetting ETAs and favouring RSAs. Ultimately AI is streamlining paid advertising, making it more accessible and easier to use but on the flip side we lose some control and metrics to report on. For now testing automation and collecting data is the key to optimising any Google Ads account.
Keeping up with the constantly changing Google Ads platform can be frustrating. If you need an audit of your Google Ads account or advice for managing the transition to RSAs we can help - Get in touch.