Responsive Search Ads: A Comprehensive Guide

Responsive Search Ads: A Comprehensive Guide
June 11, 2019 MadMarTech

What are Responsive Search Ads?

Responsive search ads are flexible text ads wherein the advertisers can feed multiple headlines and descriptions. Advertisers can show up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions. Google Ads will make multiple combinations of the input to test different versions of the ad. After the testing period, the machine learning algorithm learns which ad performs the best among the users and displays the relevant ad combination accordingly.


What are responsive search ads

Responsive Search Ads: Why Should You Use Them?



Responsive search ads provide a great deal of flexibility by providing multiple options for headlines and descriptions. There is an increased character limit as compared to expanded text ads. This would help the advertisers to put forth the right message in front of their potential customers.

Responsive to Device Size

These search ads are responsive to the device size. The positions of the texts are adapted to the screen size of the device accordingly. Due to this ‘responsive’ nature of the ad, it makes the ad content consumption easier to the users.

Powered by Machine Learning

Google learns from each possible combination of multiple headlines and descriptions and monitors the user response to the ad. All the interactions are measured, compared and the ad with the best interaction rate will be shown throughout the campaign. This level of optimization for one Ad cannot be done manually.

Better CTR

Due to continuous optimization, the ad tends to perform better as compared to the normal/expanded text ad. This leads to better CTR.


As the performance of the ad increases, it lowers the CPC of the ad provided the landing page performance and quality score is good. This boosts ad group performance and overall cost of the campaign.

Save Time and Money

The advertisers need not spend hours to create multiple ad copies and test them. They can focus their time on building strategies for their upcoming campaigns. This saves a great deal of time and also if the advertisers are paid by the hour, you could save money as well.

Higher Relevance

With multiple headlines and description options, advertisers can create relevant ads hyper-targeted towards their customers. This leads to exponential effects on campaign performance.

Now that you are convinced that you need to use responsive search ads for your next campaign, let us see how we can set it up.

How to Setup Responsive Search Ads?

The interface of Responsive search ads looks like below


Responsive search ads interface RSA


Coming to the headline section. If you observe the preview on the right side, there are 3 headlines separated by the pipe symbol.


headlines in responsive search ads preview


Each headline has a character limit of up to 30. At the end of each headline input box, you see a pin symbol. This is used to set the position of the headline to either 1, 2, or 3 as depicted in the preview. Therefore, consider that 3 headlines make up one long headline. This means that all 3 headlines need to be distinct and not redundant.

Let us understand this using a product example. Mike is selling custom suits and would like to create an ad for wedding suit product range. Let us see what he can add for all the headlines.

Headline 1: Custom Made Wedding Suit
Headline 2: Tailored Just For You
Headline 3: Starting From $199 Only

As you can see, all the 3 headlines are connected but not redundant. Now let us see how you can pin this.

Copy-paste the first headline as it is on the interface. Click on the pin button and choose the first position option.


pinned headlines in responsive search ads


Now copy the second headline and choose the second position.


Pinning headline 2 in responsive search ads


Repeat the same exercise for the third headline and assign the position accordingly.


pin headline 3 in responsive search ads


Now repeat the same exercise for all the headline sets. We have filled in all the 15 headlines using the same concept for wedding suits exercise. This is how it looks. Make sure you have pinned all the 3 headlines for each of the sets.

15 headlines in RSA

After finishing the headlines, get started with the description part. In the preview, you can see 3 descriptions. So this means you can pin the positions of description to 1 and 2.

Make use of 90 characters to sell your story. Let us get started with the wedding suits for example.

Copy-paste D1 and pin it to position 1.

D1: Exquisitely handcrafted suits that are delivered to your doorstep in just 15 days.


description options in responsive search ads


Now insert this into the second description box and pin it to position 2.
D2: Choose from a wide range of premium fabrics.100% satisfaction guaranteed.


4 descriptions options in responsive search ads


Now repeat the process for D3 and D4. We have done it for the wedding suit and this is how it looks.


descriptions of responsive search ads

After filling in all the parameters, this is how the interface looks.


responsive search ads ad copies 15 headlines and 4 descriptions


Here is the preview of the ad on the mobile and desktop format. Look how clean and responsive the ad looks on both the platforms.

responsive search ads mobile

responsive search ads mobile


Ad Strength

On the top right corner of the responsive search ads interface, you can view your ad strength. The range is usually from poor to excellent. The more unique your elements are better the performance will be. Aim for a “good” scale and you should be fine. Here is a snapshot of the wedding suit example:

Responsive Search Ads depicting Ad strength


Responsive search ads are recommended for all kinds of campaigns due to flexibility and performance. It is a good idea to test multiple landing pages to boost your CTR and lower CPC. Due to testing phase restrictions, Google does not recommend pinning the positions. However, it is better to do so to bring in the continuity in the ad. It is a good idea to bring in a balance between automation and human touch. As always, do not take our word as the ultimate. Test with different bidding strategies, landing pages, and ad copies.

Ever heard of Dynamic Search Ads? And no they are not the same as Responsive Search Ads…Read here to find out

For further info on responsive search ads, read here.