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Responsive Search Ads

Responsive search ads (RSAs) have been a core element of Google Search advertising for several years now, boasting potential benefits of increased flexibility, reduced effort and improved performance for advertisers. While some advertisers prefer the control of expanded text ads (ETAs), Google is essentially eliminating ETAs starting June 30, 2022 in favor of responsive ads. In this article, we’ll cover the differences in ad types and tips for creating effective RSAs for your Google Search campaigns.

The Difference Between Expanded Text Ads & Responsive Search Ads

Expanded text ads were the dominant ad type for Google Search advertisers for several years, offering expanded messaging opportunities from their predecessor, text ads. Expanded text ads would allow advertisers to upload up to three headlines and two descriptions, which would appear in the same order as the advertiser published them. While this provided a predictable ad experience, advertisers would have to create multiple variations of an ETA to test different headline options.

Google announced last year that it was essentially eliminating the expanded text ad type starting June 30, 2022 in favor of its newer ad type. Active ETAs will continue serving past this date though advertisers will no longer be able to create new ETAs or edit existing ones.

Responsive search ads offer a more dynamic advertising experience powered by Google Ads’ machine learning, and have been the default ad type encouraged by Google for many months now. With RSAs, advertisers provide up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions per ad, and Google will display a maximum of 3 of those headlines and 2 of those descriptions, using performance data to determine the optimal combination and order of those elements. While the ad will appear similarly to an end-user as an ETA, the RSA clearly is more intricate on Google’s side.

Responsive Search Ads Best Practices

  • Like any type of advertising, ensure your ads’ elements (headlines and descriptions) are relevant, engaging and include a call to action. Ad elements that contain words from your customers’ searches often perform well.
  • Provide as many relevant headline and description options as possible. According to Google, “the more headlines and descriptions you enter, the more opportunities Google Ads has to serve ads that more closely match your potential customers’ search queries, which can improve your ad performance.”
  • As you update ad elements, the Google Ads interface will provide anticipated ad strength and performance recommendations. While you can choose to incorporate or ignore the feedback, the recommendations can serve as a guide to improving your RSA.
  • RSA’s headlines and descriptions by default can appear in any order. If you would like more control over where certain elements can appear, RSAs offer “pinning”, allowing advertisers to set where certain elements are eligible to appear. If you choose to utilize this feature, try pinning more than only one element for those slots for greater flexibility and performance.

Summary & Next Steps

Responsive search ads have become Google’s default search ad type and are set to essentially eliminate expanded text ads in the next two months. If your Google Ads account heavily leans on ETAs currently, consider adding a RSA to your ad groups’ mix now as well as making any needed adjustments to ETAs while those ads are editable.


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*This article is provided for informational purposes. Use your best judgment and/or consult with a marketing professional for your specific situation.