Google’s responsive search ads – optimising your ad’s relevance through advanced machine learning

Aug 29th, 2018

Continuous development is crucial for digital marketing success, and the PPC team at Click Consult always make sure to keep up with the latest changes in the industry. Earlier this year, Google Ads introduced responsive search ads and we are ready to give you an insight into the new ad format

What are responsive search ads and how do they work?

Responsive search ads are the most flexible ad format to date, allowing advertisers to add up to 15 different headlines and up to four descriptions. Google will then start testing different headline and description combinations and automatically adapt in order to provide the most relevant ad combination to customers, taking into account elements such as the keywords audiences look for, the devices they use, their location and online behaviour.

Any responsive search ad will show up to three 30-character headlines and up to two 90-character descriptions, while the other ad components, such as display URL path fields, will be similar to the expanded text ad. Overall, a responsive search ad can have a maximum length of 300 characters, more than any expanded text ad.


An example of a responsive search ad (source: Google)

Advantages of using responsive search ads

Firstly, increased length means that you will be able to show more text to potential customers, while the ads’ flexibility will allow you to specify elements such as width, helping you to improve the visibility of your ads on all devices, including mobile and tablet. Another flexible characteristic is the option to ‘pin’ headlines and descriptions to certain positions, ensuring that essential information will always show.

Secondly, the way responsive search ads work ensures that your ads will show up in more relevant searches. By having multiple headline and description combinations, your ads will have more opportunities to compete in auctions. The result? More chances for your ads to be seen by your target audience and for you to increase your click-through rate, lower cost per click and achieve your advertising goals!

Tips for writing and using responsive search ads

Google suggests that the first three headlines should be written as if they will appear together in the ad. One also needs to create headlines that are of different lengths and as distinct as possible, in order to provide Google with a larger variety of options and potentially increase overall performance. As far as pinning is concerned, it is important to use it moderately, since it will decrease the number of combinations Google can create using your headlines and descriptions. Google recommends trying to pin two or three headlines or descriptions to each position as a more flexible approach to pinning.

Towards a machine learning dominated digital world?

While responsive search ads are an important step in Google’s mission to help users optimise their ad performance and save time through machine learning models, it is important to understand that automation needs to be combined with your own creative approach to ad group management in order to maximise your results. It is also worth keeping in mind that responsive search ads are only available in beta at the moment and they will improve over time, therefore make sure you regularly monitor their performance and status so you get the most out of this new ad format.

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