In 2018, Google rolled out responsive search ads. This is a new ad format that changes A/B testing for the better, taking advantage of machine learning to craft different ads for different heading and description combinations. These responsive search ads have helped significantly reduce advertisers’ workloads. Below, we will look at some best practices for using Google responsive search ads.
What Are Responsive Search Ads and How Do They Work?
Responsive search ads are ads that change their content to show relevant messaging according to the keywords entered by a visitor. They do this by using several descriptions and titles within the same ad, testing different combinations and taking note of which combinations work best.
When setting responsive search ads, you can provide up to 4 descriptions and 15 titles for each ad. Google will then assemble these descriptions and titles into multiple ad combinations. Google’s machine learning does this while avoiding redundancy and giving you different ads users see when they search a targeted keyword.
We will now look at some best practices to help you craft the best responsive search ads and make them work for you.
Set Some Time Aside to Gather Data
Responsive search ads (RSAs) use Google’s machine learning to come up with the best ad combinations. Machine learning needs a lot of data and will take some time to be helpful to you. You can start by adding RSA campaigns to use alongside your existing text ads.
While Google will suggest some RSA ads you can run right away, you can opt not to use them. Instead of using them on all your ads, you can try running the RSA ads on high-volume, highly-converting ad groups. This is the type of data that is likely to help machine learning in the sense that it’ll learn what your audience is likely to click on.
To help the process along, try running the RSA ads on different keywords, with headlines that have keywords and some that do not, and using dynamic keywords insertion alongside static headlines.
Variety Is Your Ally
When crafting your RSA ads, you will need to use variety to your advantage. Start by providing around 8-12 headlines. When coming up with these headlines, try to envision how people will search for your website or products and services. Try to craft headlines that focus on services, products, problems your business solves, calls to action, types of users and benefits.
This is in line with the thinking that people search for things differently. While one user may be looking for discounts, another may want to know why they should choose your product over another. By using varied assets, you give Google’s machine learning tools more data which helps them better predict which ads work best for which users.
Google also recommends that you vary your headlines’ length. When doing this, ensure that you do not use up your character count for each heading.
Keywords Are Still Important
Because users will find your ads based on the keywords they search for, it is important to use keywords that bring a lot of traffic to your website in your headlines. However, ensure some of your headings do not include your keywords so they can be paired with descriptions that do.
It is also good practice to avoid redundancies. Redundancy can creep into your headings and descriptions where you use similar words and phrases on all headings and descriptions. At least half of your headings and descriptions should use unique phrases and wording.
Use Pinning Sparingly
Some people do not like the idea that different headlines and descriptions will be mixed and matched when visitors search for relevant keywords. For these people, Google gives them the ability to pin headlines and descriptions in a specific order. While this can allow you to have ads that have the exact copy you need, it can restrict the number of headline/description combinations you end up with.
Because RSAs use machine learning, pinning descriptions and headlines limits the number of combinations the machine learning has to work with.
Improve Ad Strength
Google provides feedback that can be used to improve your ad’s strength. This is an indicator of the effectiveness of a particular ad. Some of the things you can do to improve your ad’s strength include adding keywords to your ad groups, adding a final URL to your ads, diversifying the wording of your headlines and descriptions, adding strong keywords from your ad groups to your headlines and descriptions as well as pinning and unpinning headlines and descriptions to find which combinations work best.
Make Use of Reports
One of the most important assets is the “View asset details” report. This report helps you see impressions made by different descriptions and headlines as well as impressions brought by different headline and description combinations.
Although impressions data is always subjective, it can give you an idea of what is working and what is not.
Optimize for Performance
Just like with any advertising campaign, RSA should be optimized for performance. The first step in doing this is looking for headlines, descriptions or combinations that have 0 or a very low number of impressions as discussed above. Headlines, descriptions and combinations that have very low impressions may be deemed as liabilities or irrelevant and may be impacting other performance metrics. This is because these ads are not working as expected and you need to prune them. An alternative to pruning them is trying to see if they are too similar to other ads. Similar wording and phrases can lead to this problem.
Run Expanded Text Ads Alongside RSAs
While RSAs are a safe bet, it is always a good idea to try to find ways to ensure your ad is always served, be it an expanded text ad or an RSA. When you do this, your expanded text ad will be shown in place of your RSA if the RSA is deemed to be irrelevant in any case.
A good balance is 2-3 expanded text ads and one or two RSAs.
While responsive search ads give you the ability to make use of Google’s machine learning, expand your ad copy and test headlines, descriptions and their combination at scale, the main advantage they offer you is an increase in conversions. This is especially true if you follow best practices for making responsive search ads work for you.