Everything You Need to Know About Google’s New Search Ad Formats

With Google’s Rebranding of AdWords to Google Ads came a whole host of AI-powered ad formats. These new formats allow a marketer to place several variations of headlines and descriptions into one ad that Google will then dynamically swap until it finds the combinations that perform best.

But what are these formats? How should your business use them?

If you haven’t heard of these formats, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are all of the new formats in Google Ads Search and why you should be creating them right now.

New Text Ads

Google quietly rolled out this new ad format universally in July 2018, and it is now the default text ad format in the new Google Ads interface.

The new ads allow for the creation of an additional 30-character headline and 90-character description, making for three total headlines and two descriptions. This brings an additional 120 allowed characters to the headlines and descriptions and bumps up the total character count to a whopping 270, making them the largest ads ever on the Google Search Network.

These additions are also available to all current ads. Simply go to edit a current text ad and the additional fields will be available with new tags on them.

Ads can also be edited in bulk to include the third headline and second description.

New Google Text Ad Description

It is worth noting that the additional fields are not guaranteed to show up every time the ad is shown.

Your headlines and other parts of your ad (including extensions) may show in different configurations based on the device that a potential customer is using, or when Google Ads predicts that it may improve your performance.”

Why Should I Test Google’s New Text Ads?

Although the additional fields will not appear in every search, when they do the created ads are so much larger than old Expanded Text Ads then it would be silly to miss out on the additional real estate. Compare the two sizes below.

Expanded Text Ad

Google Expanded Text Ad

New Text Ad

New Google Text Ad Image

This means that businesses get more opportunity to show the users the value of their product, and the users have a greater opportunity to learn more about a business before they decide to visit the site.

Responsive Search Ads

Google announced this new format in mid-July 2018 and it is now available in some accounts as the format moves into Beta testing.

Marketers provide up to fifteen headlines and four descriptions per Responsive Ad, and Google’s machine learning process begins to combine and swap headlines until it finds the best performing combinations for each search query and user. There are 43,680 different combinations available, per ad!

Because Google will optimize by search query and user, two people sitting side by side with identical search queries may see two different ads based on their search history, device, or other signals that make up the secret sauce that is Google AI.

How to Create a Responsive Search Ad

If this ad format is currently available for you, it should be a simple process. Simply go to the Ads tab in your account and click on the blue plus button, just as if you were creating a normal Expanded Text Ad. If you are available for the program, you should see an option to create a Responsive Search Ad (Beta).

How to Create a Responsive Text Ad

Once you select the Responsive Search Ad option, you will then begin the process of creating each headline and ad.

It is possible to pin headlines or descriptions to specific places in the ad to ensure that they appear every time that the ad shows, although this is against Google’s best practices. To pin an asset to the ad, select the thumbtack button next to your asset and then select where you always want your asset to appear.

Pin Responsive Search Ad

Keep in mind that if your assets are unpinned, they can show in any order or with any omission, so any ads you create need to make sense in any combination. This means that marketers should not try to mix different offers or sales or have multiple calls to action that would not make sense if they were shown together.

Finally, Google recommends that users create at least five unique headlines that do not use similar phrases or wording to maximize Google’s ability to create ads. By using redundant text, users will restrict Google’s ability to populate all possible permutations and find the one that works best for each user.

Why Should I Test Responsive Search Ads?
  • Over 43,000 permutations! That means 43,000 possible ads that you did not have to manually write. If you can’t find a successful ad in there somewhere, then you may need to find different copywriters.
  • Google reports that businesses who use the Responsive search ad format have seen their clicks rise by about 15%. More clicks mean more potential customers. Simple as that.
  • Responsive Search Ads have a third 30-character headline and an additional 90-character description, putting them on par with the New Text Ads. We have already compared them once, but it is helpful to reiterate just how much larger the new ads are compared to the old Expanded Text Ads.

Why Are All of These New Ad Formats so Important?

Look at the Size of That Thing!

Both the New Text Ads and the Responsive Search Ads are substantially larger than the old Expanded Text Ads, increasing 55% in size. Not only is that way more real estate for businesses to message across, but it has the secondary effect of pushing organic searches farther down the page. Organic searches previously above the fold may now find themselves below it or on the second page. This is especially crucial in a mobile setting where is space is already at a premium.

Business who rely solely on organic search for traffic may start to see that traffic decline as these new ad formats take up more real estate pushing organic listings down. This will make that top organic spot all the more important, but if you aren’t number one, this might be the time to explore paid search advertising.

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto

The main push behind the rebranding of Google AdWords to Google Ads is to highlight the importance of AI in the future Google Marketing across all of Google’s marketing products. There are both benefits and drawbacks to the machine learning future of Google.

Benefits – AI means that Google can make smarter decisions about when, where and how to show your ads to a user for the best chance of success. The new ad formats are just an additional tool that Google AI will use to achieve that goal. If businesses want to hold on their old manual ways of creating ads, then they will begin to lose out to the better optimized AI Skynet ads (just kidding, kind of).

Drawbacks – All of this new machine learning driven optimization makes it difficult to have deep insights into what is working with an ad. With the Responsive Search Ads, currently, there is no way to see individual permutations of the ad to determine which permutations are performing the best. Honestly, it is not even clear if the data would be beneficial even if it was available. AI makes the ad bidding process more opaque, making keyword targeting and intent matching more important than ever, as it is one of the realms marketers still have full control over.

Why Your Business Should Test the  Waters with Google Ads

This summer represented a radical shift in the way Google does marketing. Not only is it important to take advantage of the new automated opportunities available to your business, but it is also important to have an experienced digital marketing team on your side that understands the effects of AI on digital marketing space.

If your business has never participated in Google Ads, now would be a good time to start. Google is continually making changes that push organic results farther and farther away from the top of its pages. Better to test the waters now, before these shifts potentially decrease your overall online traffic.