Google recently announced that its responsive search ads (RSA), which debuted just a few years ago, will now serve as the default format in Google Ads. Moving forward, advertisers can expect prompts to create them first instead of the longstanding expanded text ads (ETA). On the surface this seems to be an innocuous Google Ads update. It alters the user interface slightly, and a Google spokesperson confirmed that ad serving will remain unaltered. However, when viewed through a wider lens the Google RSA update might have a more significant impact.

As the default format there will no doubt be a usage spike for RSAs, which will be especially significant among advertisers with smaller budgets. Google encourages all users to take advantage of available tools like the “Ad strength” indicator as well as personalization features to maximize performance. But with more advertisers overall leveraging ad copy that suits every type of auction, the 5%-15% increase in clicks and conversions that separate RSAs from ETAs will atrophy significantly.

Google Responsive Search Ads Best Practices

Advertisers would be wise to take advantage of the capabilities of RSA’s by using all of the available headlines and descriptions. RSA’s only require 3 headlines, but an advertiser can use up to 15. Likewise, only 2 description lines are required with 4 as the maximum.

Think through how best to communicate with your customers and understand how the Google AI machine works to stay ahead of the competition. Advertisers would be wise to closely monitor winning combinations and themes. While it is difficult today to get reporting on winning RSA ad copy from the platforms, any advertiser that monitors conversion rates from RSA’s in connection with keywords and audiences has an opportunity to stay ahead of the competition and Google’s moves.

Expect the search giant to steer users toward broad keyword usage with smart bidding—a short step away from bidding on both categories and stages of the consumer journey. With the latter, search campaigns would always be on and served to prospective customers regardless of how they’re using Google at the time.

From there it’s not that difficult to imagine a SERP where the first and second positions are related to a query while the third and fourth serve ads related to a category closest to conversion. This scenario would increase competition up and down the page and align with every move Google has made to date.

The savviest marketers will be prepared for this scenario and variations of it. For more information, contact us.