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RSA – Responsive search ads

RSA – Responsive search ads

RSA (Responsive search ads) is not a Smart Bidding strategy, but it leverages Google’s Machine Learning to match the right message to the right user at the right bid.

Responsive search ads show more text and more relevant messages to your customers.

RSA | Responsive search ads
Ads & extensions > + Responsive search ad (beta).


How it works

You write multiple headlines and descriptions.

Google Ads tests your multiple combinations.

You can test up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions for a single Responsive search ad.

You can test up to 15 images, 5 headlines, 5 descriptions and 2 logos for a single Responsive display ad.

Depending on the search term, Google Ads will automatically show different combinations.

Headlines and Descriptions may appear in any order.

The short headline is the first line of your ad and appears in tight ad spaces where the long headline doesn’t fit.

The long headline is the first line of your ad and appears instead of your short headline in larger ads.

The long headline may be shown without the additional description text and should stand on its own and says something unique.

Your ad may show up to 3 headlines and 2 descriptions.

With different combinations, you are likely to compete in more auctions and reach more users.

A benefit of Responsive search ads is that they adapt to spaces and devices increasing your reach.

Another benefit is time-saving.

You just provide images, headlines, descriptions, and logos and Google Ads does all the rest.

You can attach a feed to your campaigns to make your Responsive display ads support dynamic remarketing.

More details on how to create a feed for your responsive ads.


Ad Strength
Ad strength estimates the relevance, quantity, and diversity of your ad copy.


It gives you an indication from Poor to Excellent, as well as providing suggestions and ideas such as add more headlines, make your headlines and your description more unique.


Responsive search ads are currently available in English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Swedish, Dutch, Russian, Japanese, Polish, Turkish, Danish and Norwegian, with other languages on the way.

Pin headlines and descriptions
Responsive search ads show headlines and descriptions in no particular order.

You can pin individual headlines and descriptions to appear in your ad to specific positions. If there is an element(s) on the ads that require to be seen at all times, pin it to your required position. Your pinned headline or description will only show in that particular position.

Pinning headlines and descriptions are not recommended, and it should only be used when it is absolutely necessary.

However, should you need to pin headlines or descriptions, try pinning two or three headlines or descriptions to each position so that any of them can show in that position.

This gives you more flexibility to find out which headlines or descriptions perform better.

Test 2 or 3 headlines and descriptions to each position.

Pinning headlines, and, or descriptions to all positions prevents any unpinned headlines and or descriptions from showing.

Headlines or descriptions pinned to Headline position #1, Headline position #2, or Description position #1 will always show.

Content pinned to Headline position #3 and Description position #2 is not guaranteed to show in every ad.

For your text to appear all the time in your ads, you must pin it to Headline position #1, Headline position #2, or Description position #1.

Filtering Responsive search ads
Search campaigns > Ads & extensions > ADD FILTER.

Attributes > Ad type.

Responsive search ad.

Watch video.

Watch it on YouTube (Larger version)

Reporting for Responsive search ads
Select your Search campaign > Ads & extensions > Select your Responsive ad > View assets details.

The ASSETS tab shows you the number of impressions for Headlines and Descriptions.


The COMBINATIONS tab shows you the overall number of impressions in the selected period as well as their percentage and the number of each permutation.

Screenshot from an Italian account

Filtering Responsive Display Ads
Display campaigns > Ads & extensions > ADD FILTER.

Attributes > Ad type.

Responsive display ad.

Watch video.

Watch it on YouTube (Larger version)

Reporting for Responsive display ads
Select your Display campaign > Ads & extensions > Select your Responsive ad > View assets details.

The ASSETS tab shows you the performance for your Headlines, Descriptions, Images, and Logos.
Note: Responsive search ads usually need around 5,000 impressions over 30 days to display a rating in the Performance column.

The COMBINATIONS tab lets you see how assets were combined to assemble your generated ads. The tab shows only the top combinations that feature a particular asset type. The combinations are not ad previews and don’t reflect how your ads appear on the Display Network.

Best practices

Keep existing text ads
– Do not pause any existing text ads, keep these and test new Responsive search ads.

One Responsive search ad per ad group
– Test one Responsive search ad per ad group.

Headlines and Descriptions
– Write distinct unique headlines.
– Try different headline and description lengths.
– Ideally, write at least 5 headlines, 5 descriptions, and load 5 images and your logo.
– Ensure headlines and descriptions make sense individually, and in combination as they can be shown in any order.
– The first 3 headlines should make complete sense of your offerings.
– Match your headlines to your keywords.
– Add at least a top keyword in 3 to 5 headlines, but not in all headlines to prevent repetitions.
– Do not repeat phrases.
– Write different calls to action.
– Every couple of weeks, create new assets and pause the low performing.

What to test
– Benefits and features.
– Call to action.
– Prices.
– Discounts.
– Branded ads and non branded ads.
– Keywords in headlines, description lines, and URL’s path.
– Numbers.
– Percentages.
– First words capitalisation.
– Short or long headlines and descriptions.
– Slogans.
– Phrases with hyphens and full stops.

– Try to achieve your most valuable goals, and do not only evaluate results based on CTR (Click through rate), impressions and clicks.

Soon you will see:
Suggested headlines and descriptions – initially in English and with other languages following.
Importing headlines and descriptions from existing text ads in the same ad group.
The ad strength updates in the Status column in the UI to see if your ads are disapproved or if you’re losing impressions.

As from 25 October 2019
Responsive search ads can now be set up from Google Ads Editor, the Google Ads API, and the mobile app.

Two new tools
Performance column: this column helps identify which of your creative assets are driving results in high volume ad groups. Replace “Low” rated assets with new ad copy to improve performance over time. Keep “Good” performing assets and use “Best” performing assets as inspiration for new ad creative.

Ad variations supports responsive search ads allowing you to run your own ad copy tests and see how different variations of your ads perform.

Extract from my Book ‘Making Google Ads Work’.

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