Google Paves the Road Ahead for Responsive Search Ads
This article was written by Jason Hartley. As Head of Search and Shopping, Jason oversees PMG’s holistic approach to search across their client portfolio. A senior member of PMG’s Center of Excellence (COEs), he consults on media strategies across clients like Nike and Gap brands. He also leads PMG’s holistic approach to privacy. Alongside his work at PMG, Jason is a member of the Google Performance Council and ANA Ethics Policy Committee.
Today, Google announced updates to Response Search Ads (RSAs) that aren’t too surprising but shed light on the road ahead for creative messaging within Google Ads. There are two parts to the announcement, one regarding the steps being made to make RSAs more prominent within the Google Ads UI, the other focusing on the tools and insights that help optimize these units. Let’s take a closer look at the announcement and what’s happening with RSAs.
While there are no changes to Google Ads Editor or the API, this shift within the interface highlights Google’s ongoing emphasis on machine learning as the company furthers its investment in automating creative management. It’s not a stretch to say that Google is not only saying that RSAs are the future but that the future is now.
There are many nuances in the update about the tools and insights, so there will likely be debate as to whether these updates give search marketers more value or whether Google is increasingly aggregating the data that’s available to brands. At PMG, we’ve embraced leveraging automation (including our Alli technology) to get results at scale, and we believe that if utilized properly, RSAs can unlock opportunities for additional conversions.
In the announcement, Google highlighted certain aspects of RSA management that already exist and provide additional transparency for brands:
Ad Combination Report — This report provides visibility into the ad units as shown on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). While this isn’t an optimization tool, the Ad Combination Report helps ensure that the brand voice is present and provides insight into how Google utilizes the assets.
Ad Strength — Search marketers can see Ad Strength in real time, as ads are created, to ensure they’re adding valuable creative into the account. Google stated that increasing Ad Strength from “Poor” to “Excellent” can lead to a more than nine percent increase in clicks and conversion on average.
Ad Customizers — There are a few ad customizers that search marketers can leverage right now: Location Insertion, Countdown Customizer, and Keyword Insertion. All of these are similar imports of the customizers available with Expanded Text Ads, allowing for further granularity at scale.
While RSAs have mixed adoption rates across the industry, it’s apparent that this ad type will take center stage as a core management lever for search marketers. As the search landscape continues to evolve, Google’s announcement showed how to best take advantage of RSAs:
Ensure every ad group has an RSA. While this has been a recommendation for some time, ensuring that every ad group has an RSA will unlock auctions and increase coverage in the account.
Improve performance by achieving “Good” or “Excellent” ad strength. Since this updates in real time for building assets in the UI, it can certainly help boost performance. Additionally, search marketers can utilize reporting availability in the Ads Table Report and API to continue optimizing existing assets.
Optimize creative by replacing “Low” rated assets and using Ad Variations to test. Google recommends to have 15 different variations in the ad unit before optimizing further. In essence, more is better for the algorithms to learn from.
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While these changes to RSAs and reporting are subtle — and one that many search marketers have anticipated — this news is a significant step toward embracing a more dynamic approach to search ad copy. After a challenging 2020, the PMG team is looking forward to testing and leaning into scaling accounts via creative optimizations.
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