How to Use Google’s New Responsive Search Ads

By Rhonda Bradley / 9 October 2018

Find out what businesses should know before using responsive search ads, and learn how to make the most of Google’s new features.

Google’s new responsive search ads use machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence, to test different versions of your search ads. This is done by rotating different headlines and ad copy according to what the machines think will be most relevant to searchers.

Over time, this testing process should improve the effectiveness of your Google search ads.

Learn more about Google’s responsive search ads and how to maximize your success:

  1. Here’s How Google’s Responsive Search Ads Work

  2. How to Maximize Your Success With Google Responsive Search Ads

Note: Responsive search ads are currently in beta and may not be available to all advertisers.

Here’s How Google’s Responsive Search Ads Work

The new responsive ads are different from traditional search ads because you’ll create a number of different headline and ad copy options for one ad.

Google allows you to provide up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions per ad. Google's artificial intelligence then tailors your ad by testing different combinations of headlines and descriptions based on individual search queries.

Your role is to review the performance statistics of your responsive ads to discover what combinations of headlines and ad copy are most effective.

The example below shows a summary of a responsive search ad. You’ll notice that the brand has provided 10 headlines and 3 descriptions for one Google search ad.

Google Ad Combinations
Source: Google Support

In the example above, you’ll notice that only one of the descriptions contains the keyword “women’s shoes.” The other headlines are relevant to the topic of women’s shoes without mentioning the keyword by name.

In addition to rotating ad copy for testing, responsive search ads also give advertisers more space to work with.

Each responsive search advertisement now includes:

  • Up to 3 headlines of up to 30 characters each, separated by pipes. For example:
    Comprehensive Insurance | Protect Yourself on a Budget | Get Your Free Quote Today

  • 1 display URL

  • Up to 2 descriptions of up to 90 characters each

The example below shows all 3 elements in one ad: headlines, display URL, and description.

Google Elements

How to Maximize Your Success With Google Responsive Search Ads

Find out how to make the most of your responsive search ads with these simple tips.

  • 1. Pin Your Most Important Text

When placing your responsive ad, you’ll have the option to “pin” headlines or text to your ad. Pinned content will always show up in every version of your ad.

How to use it: Pin your most important text to either the first or 2nd headline position, or to the first 80 characters of the 1st description.

  • 2. Provide Plenty of Text for Google to Work With

You can provide up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions per ad.

At the very least, you should provide at least 5 distinct headlines and 2 distinct descriptions.

Don’t use similar phrases in your description. Using distinctly different words and phrasing allows machine learning to better discover what works for your audience.

  • 3. Include a Call-to-Action

Always be sure to include a call-to-action in your search ads. Know what you want your users to do after reading your ad, and tell them to do it.

A call-to-action can be as simple as “Save 15% today” or “Make your dinner reservation here.”

The best CTA’s are built around your main ad objective. Be sure that your ad is serving one goal, and that you let searchers know what to do in your CTA.

  • 4. Mix Up Your Keyword Additions

Be careful not to put your main keywords into every headline.

Part of what you’ll be testing is how people respond to different words and phrases, so you want to be sure and mix up the headlines to make the most of the experimental process.

  • 5. Try Different Headline Lengths

Don’t feel compelled to use all 30 characters in every headline.

Experiment with different lengths so you can find out if length has an impact on your headline’s effectiveness.

  • 6. Lead with Benefits or Problem-Solving

Brush up your ad copywriting techniques by making a list of your product’s benefits before you write your headlines and descriptions.

What’s the benefit your customers receive when they use your product? Or, what’s the problem your brand solves for them?

Instead of listing your product’s features, consider writing ad copy that’s more interesting to your audience. Always begin with listing your product’s benefits or identifying and solving the problem that led them to search for you.

  • 7. Make Sure All Headlines and Descriptions Can Match

Since your headlines and descriptions will be rotated and changed, be sure that any description matches any headline and vice versa.

  • 8. Take Advantage of Google Help Pages for Detailed Instructions

Google offers tips for placing responsive search ads on their Google Ads’ answer page.

The support page walks you through multiple examples so you can get a solid understanding of how to phrase headlines and descriptions before placing your ads.

It also explains the process of ad-placing, step-by-step, so you can quickly become comfortable and familiar with its new form of advertising.

Are Responsive Search Ads the Beginning of the Future of Marketing?

Will the type of artificial intelligence used by Google responsive ads eventually replace human copywriters? No one knows for sure, but they are definitely the beginning of a major shift in the marketing industry.

In the short-term, responsive ads could make you look like a copywriting superstar if the results are successful. In the long run, there may be some adjusting as computers attempt to do creative work typically handled by humans.

These updates are not scary for experienced marketers. Embracing change is one of the most important ways businesses weather many generations in order to continue growing through a variety of economic environments.

Google’s responsive search ads have the potential to dramatically increase your marketing results, although no one knows for sure if the process will succeed or fail. It’s new territory and may be an opportunity for your business to get a step ahead of the competition.

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