Rise of the RSA - New Responsive Search Ads Features

Google have recently announced that they are adding several new features to their Responsive Search Ads. While the new ad copy features (location insertion and countdown customisers) will most likely get the most attention, improved suggestions, recommendations, and reporting features are not to be overlooked. These exciting developments show that Google see Responsive Search Ads as a key pillar of PPC automation.

What is a Responsive Search Ad?

Responsive Search Ads (also commonly referred to as RSAs) are a form of ad that are generated by predefined lists of headlines and descriptions with the parameters set by the advertiser.

In normal expanded text ads, copy must be written in a restrained way with each ad having 2/3 headlines and 1/2 descriptions, with variations of these having to be manually written. While expanded text ads can be set to learn and rotate to the best performing copy, RSAs can give an advertiser up to 43,680 different permutations if using all available assets.

RSA Best Practices

  • Take advantage of the pin feature to pin certain headlines (1 or 2) or descriptions (1) to ensure any combination of headlines and descriptions makes sense

  • Use at least 5 unique headlines with noticeably different phrases or messaging

  • Use the feedback from ad strength to increase effectiveness

  • Put them in the right place – in each ad group it is recommended to use at least 2 expanded text ads and one RSA but remember, there is a limit of 3 RSAs per ad group

  • Remember to align keywords to ad copy

Google champion Responsive Search Ads as being flexible, adaptable and time- saving. They also highlight that RSAs can show more relevant messaging to your customer while appearing in more auctions

Location Insertion and Countdown Customisers

Google have highlighted their research that claims 91% of smartphone owners bought or plan to buy something after seeing a relevant ad. To help improve this relevancy even further, Google have given the option of location insertion and countdown timers in the ad copy for Responsive Search Ads. This will allow advertisers to serve highly relevant ads based on location and create a sense of urgency with a countdown combined with an ever-learning combination of headlines and descriptions. However, it is worth considering that locations customisers are based on campaign location targeting so this feature is best used with campaigns that are targeted locally rather than, for example UK-wide.

Suggestions and Reporting

Google have improved the suggestions when writing copy for Responsive Search Ads. They now offer new categories that recommend phrases that are commonly used which highlight availability online, shipping and returns processes.

New Cross-Campaign asset reporting allows advertisers to view asset performance at campaign level, allowing them to see which assets are most effective. In the assets page you can see the headlines and descriptions from every Responsive Search Ad in one place. Using cross-campaign asset reporting it is easy to see where assets are shown, and which are performing well. Once you have established which are performing the best you can apply these insights to other ads and vice versa with poorly performing ads.

Google have also introduced a new recommendation function to “improve your responsive search ads’ when ad strength is below ‘Good’. This will help advertisers improve Responsive Ads without spending too much resource on it, which according Google is one of the key benefits of Responsive Search Ads.

One thing that is certain is that Responsive Search Ads are here to stay. RSAs are clearly important to Google and should subsequently be important to advertisers as Google are likely to prioritise ad space to key parts of their ad copy automation drive. Advertisers would do well to get their RSAs in order, sooner rather than later.