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The Next Frontier of Personalized Marketing: Google Tests Responsive Search Ads

David Bosley

Last month, Google announced some of their latest advertising features and tools. One stuck out particularly: Responsive Search Ads. While this feature is still in beta, it has the chance to truly revolution digital marketing. According to Google, click rates are already between 5 and 15% higher than they are on their normal search ads.

Responsive Ads are made possible by machine learning, a powerful type of marketing automation. Using this technology, they allow you to personalize your ads to your audience. Right now, you can customize headlines and add additional message text based on your audience’s specific search terms. Google promises that their responsive search ads will continue to improve, so you will more than likely have even more personalization options in the future.

For now, however, it’s important to develop a strong understanding of Google’s new responsive ads and how to leverage them for maximum results. As new features do come out, you’ll be better positioned than your competition to take advantage of them. Here are four tips and best practices for working with the new Responsive Ads feature:

1. Throw Everything Against the Wall

One of the most exciting features of Google’s new Responsive Search Ads platform is that it handles the testing for you automatically. You can enter up to fifteen different headlines and four body descriptions and Google will test them together and determine the best combinations all by itself. You don’t need to manually A/B test, saving you a lot of time and ensuring your ads perform as well as they possibly can. In order to take advantage of this new feature, take the time to put together as many creative headlines and descriptions as you can.

Here’s a good list of some things you’ll want to try and test, according to Google’s own best practices:

  • Headlines both with and without keywords in them.
  • Headlines of varying lengths.
  • Different benefits and key features in the descriptions.
  • Multiple calls to action.

2. Go a Little Deeper

Another interesting feature of the Responsive Ads feature is that you can use longer ads more effectively. Your descriptions can be up to 90 characters (up from the previous limit of 80 characters), but you’re able to change the width as you please. On mobile devices, this can have a dramatic impact on readability. So feel free to experiment with slightly longer descriptions and wider advertisements and let Google automatically test their effectiveness.

3. Use Pins For Important Messages

While Google is going to test everything together and constantly change your messaging up, you do have the ability to pin anything that needs to be in every single ad. Google examples of this would be legal disclaimers, a slogan, or a tried-and-true promotional offer. Simply pin that specific headline or description, and it will always appear in your ads, no matter what else changes around it.

The key is to not pin anything that isn’t absolutely essential. The biggest feature of Responsive Search Ads is the ability to have everything thoroughly tested and personalized to the audience. Making a huge chunk of your ad the same each time will have a negative impact on the testing’s effectiveness and your overall performance.

Pin important messages in your ads, but make sure not to overdo it!

4. Test One Responsive Ad Per Audience Group

Testing multiple ads at once for a single audience will be detrimental to your overall goals. In order for Google to test every possible combination, it needs lots and lots of impressions.  If you dilute that by testing multiple ads at once, it’ll take much longer to get actionable results. Your best bet is to test one single ad at a time and once you find something that works, set it as a non-responsive ad and start testing something else.