What’s the Deal With Responsive Search Ads?

Here's what we know about Google's newest ad format

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Machine learning is taking the digital marketing industry by storm, radically changing the way brands collect, analyze, and leverage data to make online ads more efficient and effective. Google takes machine learning to the next level in the new ad format- responsive search ads.

New to responsive search ads? Here’s everything you need to know.

What are responsive search ads?

According to Google, responsive search ads are search ads that adapt to show more text – and more relevant messages – to your customers.

To the person scrolling through search results on Google, responsive search ads look a lot like traditional search ads with a few headlines, a description, and a URL. But unlike traditional search ads, responsive search ads aren’t static, meaning they don’t always look exactly the same.

Instead of writing those ad pieces as one big cohesive ad unit, responsive search ads mix and match different variations of headlines and descriptions to find the winning combination.

How do responsive search ads work?

As a marketer, you probably spend a lot of time A/B testing your search ads to find the best performing ad variation. Responsive search ads are like an A/B test on steroids.

Responsive search ads use machine learning to test countless combinations of ad headlines and descriptions and create the most relevant ad possible based on what users are searching for and what device they are searching on.

Think of it like a puzzle – you create the pieces and Google puts them together to create the right picture.

What are the benefits of responsive search ads?

Relevance. Thanks to Google’s extremely powerful AI, responsive search ads can help you get the right message in front of the right person at the right time.

Ad length. Want to highlight different aspects of your product, service, brand, or campaign? Depending on what device a searcher is using, responsive search ads sometimes include an extra headline AND description, so you can pack more content into them than any other type of search ads.

Countless variations. No marketer has time to write 40,000 different ad variations for a single ad flight. With responsive search ads, Google does it for you. All you have to do is draft 15 headlines and 4 descriptions, then automation handles the rest.

More search matches. Because responsive search ads can be combined to have so many different keyword combinations, they can compete in more auctions and match with more search queries

We tried responsive search ads. Here’s what happened.

When Google launched this ad offering to all marketers, we decided to give it a whirl. We integrated responsive search ads alongside traditional search ads to compare performance. The results were…inconclusive.

responsive search ads

Although the clickthrough rate was higher on the responsive search ads in some instances, the cost-per-click was too. Our responsive search ads didn’t drastically outperform the traditional search ads in the flight. They didn’t drastically underperform, either. They just performed.

Trying out responsive ads DID get us thinking about the way we draft ads and how tough it can be to tell a story when you aren’t the one ultimately controlling the final product. It made us think outside the box to come up with so many ad assets that worked together without being redundant and got our message across clearly, no matter what combination Google came up with.

The digital marketing landscape is constantly changing, which is why IMGE is always trying out the latest tools and products. Our recommendation for responsive search ads? Give them a go and see what happens! Run responsive search ads in tandem with traditional search ads to see if one performs better.

If you want a team of experts to help you crush your digital marketing goals, drop us a line today.

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