On February 18, 2021, Google announced that responsive search ads are now the new default ad type when creating search campaigns. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is yet another indication that Google is gradually shifting towards automation, whether we like it or not!
In this post, we will answer a few key questions:
- What are responsive search ads?
- Should you use them?
- Why should you care about this update?
Let’s dig in!
What Are Responsive Search Ads?
In a nutshell, responsive search ads give the user the option of adding multiple headlines and descriptions, and then Google tests different combinations of these and optimizes accordingly.
Sounds great, right? Well…
Google claims that responsive search ads “may improve your campaign’s performance,” but they don’t promise anything and I haven’t seen any evidence of them backing this up. In my experience, responsive ads are hit or miss at best. I have seen them convert at double the rate of expanded text ads in the same ad group, and I have also seen them fail miserably.
The main issue with responsive ads though, is that there is no real way of knowing which of your headlines and descriptions are converting. You put all your trust in Google’s algorithm, but the data you get back is very limited. You are able to see impression data on which headlines, descriptions, and combinations are shown most often, but nothing about clicks or conversions (which is what really matters.)
Should You Use Responsive Search Ads?
Honestly, that depends. If you are a business owner with limited Google Ads experience and limited time to manually optimize your ads, then responsive search ads may actually work better for you than expanded text ads.
However, if you are a marketing professional and have the time and expertise to test different ads, analyze their performance, and optimize accordingly, I’d recommend sticking with expanded text ads. But, if you’re curious, try both ad types and see what works best!
Why Should You Care?
You may be thinking, “Who cares if Google has a new ad default? What does it matter?”
Well… that’s exactly what they WANT you to think!
This update in itself is not a huge deal. After all, we still have the option of using expanded text ads (for now.) The issue is that this is one of many updates in the past couple of years that slowly takes control away from the user, and nudges us all towards using Google’s automated tools. They do this all in the name of convenience and promise increased performance, but in the end, Google is looking out for Google, and its goal is always profit (aka clicks).
So, take these updates and Google’s promises with a grain of salt, and don’t feel like you always have to follow their recommendations. Find out what works for your campaigns, and if you ever need any help, you know who to come to!
Disclaimer: We love Google and have been able to do things for businesses that no form of traditional marketing could ever do, so this shouldn’t come off as an attack. At the end of the day, our loyalty is to our customers and if we feel that there is a reason to speak up to acknowledge/point out/or defend their best interests, then we will, and that’s exactly what this article is about.
What’s best for us is what’s best for our customers. What’s best for Google is how many clicks they get, and it’s a bonus if those clicks convert into results. We only get paid if we do well. Google gets paid regardless.
If someone from Google Ads team reads this… all we ask is that you please don’t take away our ability to see the data that allows us to optimize for our clients bottom line. That’s all that we ask!