Google Advertising

Making the Switch to Responsive Search Ads

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The landscape of Pay-Per-Click advertising is everchanging and Google has always been at the forefront of advances to their platforms. The announcement to move towards eliminating the option of creating and serving users Expanded Text Ads was among the latest changes to the Google Ads platform. Come June 2022, advertisers will only be able to create Responsive Search Ads as the primary text ad option for search campaigns – creating new or editing existing Expanded Text Ads will no longer be an available option. How will this change benefit advertisers promoting financial services?

What Are Responsive Search Ads?

Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) are Google’s alternative to the standard search text ads. Responsive search ads are just that, responsive. Meaning they formulate the most appropriate or enticing text ad to present to a user based on keywords in their search terms, with the goal in mind of increasing the chances of the user clicking on your ad over to your website. The combination of headlines and descriptions selected is based on Google’s machine learning algorithm.

Responsive Search Ads are comprised of a few different components; up to 15 headline variations each with a 30 character limit, up to 4 description variations each with a 90 character limit, a final landing page URL, and two URL Display Paths with a 15 character limit.

Responsive search ads use advanced machine learning technology to build combinations of ad text for optimal results.

Responsive Search Ads vs. Expanded Text Ads

RSAs and Expanded Text ads do look nearly identical in search results when returned to the user. In fact, the user would never be able to tell the difference if an ad they were being shown was a Responsive Search Ad or an Expanded Text Ad.

One of the main differences between these two ad types is the number of headlines and descriptions available. With Expanded Text Ads, there are only three headline fields and two description fields available. With Responsive Search Ads, there are up to 15 headlines and up to 4 description fields available. The headlines and descriptions for Expanded Text Ads will only present to the user in the exact same order that you created the ad with. Based on a user’s search terms and historical performance, headlines and descriptions for Responsive Search Ads can appear in any order and with any combination of your copy. Responsive Search Ads are intended to show the most relevant text ad variation that would entice a user to click on the ad or interact with it in some way based on their search query.

A major concern with the move to only Responsive Search Ads is the lack of control when it comes to the combinations of headlines and descriptions being shown to users. Currently, there is no standalone way to ensure that specific headlines or descriptions show up in a specific order or in specific placements. Right now, there is the option within RSA’s to pin headlines in a first, second, or third headline position so that a field will only display in the pinned position you selected.

As an A/B test to verify which specific pinned headlines in which positions might return better results for you, you could set up two responsive search ads, all with the same headlines and descriptions, and pin different headlines in different positions. Let both of them run for a period of time whether that be a month or 3 months or longer, then compare their performance and identify which variation is performing the best and pause the other Responsive Search Ad and run the one that is giving you better results.

When making the switch over to solely Responsive Search Ads, you should continue to follow best practices for creating text ads. That would include:

  • 1 to 2 Responsive Search Ad variations per ad group
  • Writing unique headlines and descriptions with targeted keywords
  • Localizing text ad copy with city, region, or state mention
  • A/B testing ad variations for more successful option
Continue to follow best practices for text ad creation with RSA's. Include 1 to 2 cariations per ad group to conduct your own A/B testing for the better performing ad set and copy combinations

How Can Banks & Credit Unions Benefit from Responsive Search Ads?

1.  Flexibility

The switch over to Responsive Search Ads only for financial services offers more flexibility when it comes to available copy space for text ads. Increased flexibility in terms of ad copy is a major benefit for banks. If you want to promote a new offer that comes with several benefits, perks, or features, you’ll be able to publish your ad with individual headlines mentioning all the information about that offer – a luxury that Expanded Text Ads don’t offer. By being able to include more than three possible headlines in your ad, it is more likely to be shown to an increased number of users based on keyword matches from their search queries and the relevance to the ad copy.

While pinning headlines in a certain spot does limit the number of combinations a Responsive Search Ad can be shown in, it can be helpful if you only want a headline to show in a specific order. The flexibility of pinning headlines in the first, second, or third headline spots gives you a bit more control over what your text ads look like to the user. For example, a lot of financial institutions want to make sure their name is displayed within the ad either in the second or third headline slot – this can be locked into place with a pin.

2.  Reach More Users

Responsive Search Ads allow banks and credit unions to reach more users and potential customers with the increased number of available headline and description fields for each ad. The more headlines and descriptions you include in your Responsive Search Ads, the more opportunity you create for your ads to match more user search queries. Google’s machine learning automatically tests different combinations of headlines and descriptions to learn which combinations perform the best.

Before you create Responsive Search Ads for your ad groups take a look at your existing Expanded Text Ads and see which ones have the best performance. Start building your new Responsive Search Ads with headlines and descriptions from your top-performing Expanded Text Ads; if you know certain copy has proven successful it’s always a good idea to re-purpose that content. The more people you can get to click on your ad and enter your website will ultimately lead to an increase of new customers and new accounts opened. Make sure to include as many keywords in your headlines as possible and make them as unique as possible to the product or offer your advertising.

Responsive search ads offer more flexibility than other ad types and are easy to set up, making them an ideal solution for creating campaigns to reach more users.

3.  Ad Strength Indicator Helps Optimize Copy

When creating a new Responsive Search Ad you’ll be able to gain a little further insight into how well your ad might perform based on the Ad Strength Indicator. The Ad Strength Indicator looks like a progress wheel and will give the ad copy a rating of “Poor”, “Average”, “Good”, or “Excellent”. These ratings are determined by the number of headlines, how many keywords are used in the headlines and descriptions, and how unique the headlines and descriptions are. Google brings up a sidebar here where you can see suggested headlines and descriptions to use to improve the strength of your ad.

When viewing a campaign’s ads, you have the option to add in additional Attribute columns for “Ad Strength” and “Ad Strength Improvements”. These columns will tell you, at a glance, what the Ad Strength status is and what changes can be made to improve the strength of an ad. Keep in mind that an ad will have better success and performance with a higher ad strength status so it’s important to keep an eye on improvement suggestions.

Ready to Run Responsive Search Ads for Your Bank?

At BankBound, we’re financial marketing nerds. We focus exclusively on digital marketing solutions that grow local banks and credit unions. We understand your needs and the challenges you face as a bank marketer. We’ll work with you to formulate and implement an effective PPC advertising strategy to attract more customers and expand your brand’s visibility online. If you’re ready to reach new customers and increase traffic to your website, request a no-pressure consultation or talk with a strategist about your digital marketing plan today!

Amanda Czajkowski Digital Marketing Strategist