Optmyzr Blog

Google Responsive Search Ads & What You Need to Know

Search Ads Aug 02, 2019

Google throws a lot of great stuff at those of us fortunate enough to work in PPC. Much of it makes sense right out of the chute. Some others? Maybe not so much, but you might be missing some great opportunity if you’re not paying close enough attention. 

Take, for example, the often-overlooked Responsive Search Ads that hit the market a little over a year ago. Since that time, many PPC pros have struggled to figure out how best to incorporate these little gems in their PPC toolkit. Too often, RSAs are misunderstood and the opportunity remains untapped. 

RSA 101: What you need to know

The Optmyzr team sees great value in RSAs and we’ve further simplified making them part of your ongoing PPC strategy. We also realize they’re a bit confusing on the surface, so let’s get back to the starting block with RSAs.

Responsive Search Ads simplify creation of multiple ad variations, tapping advanced machine learning to show the most relevant ad to every user who may be looking for what you or your client have to offer. The PPC pro can craft 15 different headlines along with four separate descriptions. Google then serves up a combination of the various ad components to create copy designed to be most relevant to searchers for that particular auction.

We’re talking real-time ad optimization, which can be a really powerful resource. 

Why use RSAs

PPC pros can spend an inordinate amount of time crafting ad copy. It’s tedious, challenging, and often not prioritized in the PPC workflow. And let’s face it – many PPC pros are more analytically inclined and not necessarily among the F. Scott Fitzgeralds of marketing copy writers. (See my latest Search Engine Land post on Responsive Search Ads, particularly the second section.)

Even for those PPC pros gifted at writing copy, the harsh reality is that every person doing searches on the big engines responds to different value propositions, calls to action, and the other words that make up a text ad. It’s impossible to write every possible ad variation, and even if you could master that feat, there’s no way to correctly target each variation to the right user. 

Here’s where machine learning comes into play – specifically with RSAs. Google’s Quality Score (QS) pretty much drives everything, controlling when an ad is shown for a query. The ad must be relevant enough in wording and substance with a high probability of getting the click for the machines to decide to show it.

The complexity behind QS makes it virtually impossible for a person to write ads that will work equally well for all search scenarios. So much hinges on numerous factors – the device being used, time of day, location, the searcher’s demographics, previous interactions with the seller (remember…remarketing also comes into play).  Approaching this manually will lead to missed opportunities. 

Any particular ad may have a QS too low to qualify for a particular search. Doesn’t matter if the offer is great. A static ad with strict character limitations may not adequately convey relevance of your business to the user. 

Now the missed opportunities start to become a little more evident. 

With RSAs, you make it possible for the machines to “craft” a great ad on the fly (with a little upfront work from you), giving you a much better shot at capturing valuable incremental opportunities.

When to use RSAs

Okay…RSAs are not the panacea for all of your search marketing challenges, but they are an often overlooked opportunity for meaningful performance improvement. Hence the reason our team set out to make it even easier to create them. 

To co-opt an old phrase, an RSA each day will keep the PPC doctor away. You should strive to have one RSA in every ad group. Check out the video below to see a side-by-side view that shows how little time you’ll actually have to invest. 

Side-by-side comparison – RSAs Created in Google vs Optmyzr

If you want to see how the tool works in a bit more detail, check out our feature demo on YouTube or if you’re an Optmyzr subscriber, you can try the Responsive Search Ad Builder right now.

Limit yourself to the one RSA per ad group, though. You may be tempted to do a second one, but instead you can optimize what you have in the group.

When to avoid RSAs

As mentioned earlier, RSAs are not a magic PPC wand. They won’t solve all of your challenges. Also, conversion rates against RSAs may be lower than what you are accustomed to, which is why a lot of folks in our industry may have intentionally abandoned the opportunity. Lower conversion rates may be okay, particularly if you are using Smart Bidding, such as tCPA or tROAS. Smart Bidding will account for conversion rate differences and then work to meet your stated goals. 

Also keep in mind that RSAs are really about driving incremental traffic. A lower conversion rate on RSAs doesn’t necessarily mean you’re losing conversions. Google still can show your manual ads if they are performing better and they have a better QS (this is why we want to have both expanded text ads and an RSA in each ad group). 

Let the machines learn!

RSAs are right in the sweet spot of machine learning within PPC. But for the machines to learn, you need to give them a little time and space to explore. Resist the urge to pin ad components when you don’t have to. Allow time for a test. It’s essential to feed the machine good variable element ad components. The machines are not coming up with new ad text on their own. They use the creative elements YOU provide, which means the machines can only be as successful as you’ve set them up to be.  

The Optmyzr Ad Text Optimization tool helps you discover creative elements for your account that have performed well over time. Study the valuable information that Optmyzr serves up. The historic view into performance can be a powerful tool to inform your future creative and how you set up manual ads and variables for RSAs. 

It sort of goes without saying, but deploying the proven winners across your ads gives you a better chance at success. 


Frederick Vallaeys

Co-Founder & CEO


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