Impact of Google’s responsive search ads in retail

Google have been rolling out a new ad format – responsive search ads – slowly via the beta program over the last few months – something we’ve been eagerly testing at Croud! Read on to hear about the changes and to see what we think about them.

The new ad format is an attempt to bring machine learning to ad copy – instead of the current two headlines and one description line, you now get to select up to 15 headlines and four descriptions. This change gives you plenty of variety when it comes to testing USPs, calls to action and tone of voice, across your accounts.

What’s really smart about responsive search ads is that dropping one of these into your ad groups will give you tonnes of learnings, really quickly. Google rotates through the masses and masses of combinations and pulls through, what it thinks will be, the best combination in terms of click-through rate (CTR). This is essentially automated ad copy testing.

More choices

However, all that choice does make it slightly more difficult to write an ad and it is important to ensure you avoid duplication or repetitive phrases, as this will risk making the ad look bad.

Although the machine learning process should quickly weed out the worst performers and only show the best assets, you will give yourself the best chances of success by taking time to write ads as this will give Google as many quality headlines and descriptions as possible!

Croud’s findings

To give you an idea of what the new ads look like, here’s a trial we’re running for a client at the moment:

As you can see – it’s a huge difference in size!

We’ve been testing this beta across one of Croud’s retail clients and have seen significant improvements in performance:

Brand + non-brand text ads saw a 186% increase in CTR

Non-brand CTR saw an uplift of 50%

We’re constantly asked by clients to “find the silver bullet” – that single optimisation that will radically change performance. This. is. it.

To find out more about Google’s responsive search ads, and how you can implement them in your next campaign, contact us.

by Bethany Mercer
16 August 2018



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