Everything You Need to Know About Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) | Perfect Search Media

Everything You Need to Know About Responsive Search Ads (RSAs)

Google Responsive Search Ads
July 12, 2018

This past May, Google introduced the responsive search ads (RSA) beta, a new ad format that caused quite a bit of buzz in the paid search world.

At Google’s Marketing Live keynote on July 10th, the tech giant announced that RSAs would roll out to all advertisers in the coming months. (Missed the Keynote? Read up on all of the biggest announcements in Eric’s post!).

Throughout the event, Google announced a number of initiatives, which focused heavily on machine learning and automation. Responsive search ads are no exception to this trend.


What are responsive search ads?

In a nutshell, responsive search ads allow advertisers to create ads that adapt to show more text and more relevant ad copy to the searcher. But how?

More headlines: RSAs can have up to 15 (!) headlines, three of which will show in the ad.

An extra (and longer) description: The new ad format also allows advertisers to enter up to 4 descriptions, two of which can show. Moreover, RSA descriptions can be 90 characters compared to the 80-character expanded text ad (ETA) description.

Automated testing: Google’s algorithm will automatically test the different combinations of headlines and descriptions and learn which assets perform the best over time.

The benefits of responsive search ads are pretty clear. For starters, the new format increases ad text from 140 characters to 270. That’s over a 90% increase.

As a result, RSAs are sure to take up more real estate in the SERP. In fact, Google says they expect ad groups with responsive search ads to have a click uplift of 5 to 15%.

On top of this, the new ad format automates ad testing by determining which headlines and descriptions yield the best results. Advertisers simply enter multiple unique headlines and description—Google will take care of the rest.


How are RSAs performing?

Great, so RSAs allow for more ad copy and automated testing. But how are they actually performing?

From the start, we’ve seen significant improvements. For one particular client, after one month of testing, click-through rate (CTR) had increased by more than 68% compared to the old expanded text ad format.


Data for expanded texts ads and responsive search ads 


Moreover, we also saw a significant dip in average cost per click (CPC), which decreased our overall cost per lead. Needless to say, we’re impressed with the results we’re seeing.

We’ve expanded responsive search ads to other campaigns and ad groups and have seen similar improvements in performance.

At the moment, RSAs are still in beta, so it’s important to run ETAs alongside them. In the test above, we’ve seen that AdWords tends to favor expanded text ads 80/20 in terms of impressions.


What’s next?

As mentioned above, responsive search ads are still in beta. However, they’re expected to roll out for all advertisers in the coming months.

My advice: make the time to start writing RSA copy now. You won’t regret it.



What was your favorite announcement from Google’s Marketing Live keynote? Is your business ready for responsive search ads? Tweet us @Perfect_Search.

Manager, Search & Social Advertising
Quinn, a Notre Dame alum, hails from Oconomowoc, Wisconsin (A.K.A. BROconomowoc, A.K.A. The Real OC). Though he’s not afraid to admit that he wants to swim in a pool of spaghetti noodles, his guilty pleasures are shower beers and The Bachelor.

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