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

Quinns Rsa Post
Quinn Dolan
May 6, 2019

In May 2018, 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, 2018, the tech giant announced that RSAs would roll out to all advertisers in later months. 

Throughout the event, Google announced a number of initiatives, which focused heavily on machine learning and automation. Responsive search ads were no exception to this trend. A year after the RSA beta was released, they’re a standard part of any comprehensive paid search strategy. Brush up on responsive search ads now. 


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.

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

Still, you should try running ETAs alongside RSAs. In the test above, we’ve seen that Google Ads tends to favor expanded text ads 80/20 in terms of impressions.

Looking for a team of experts to help you with your paid search and social advertising strategy? Contact us, we’re the experts!

Quinn Dolan
Director of 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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