Responsive Search Ads Have Received an Update

Google is adding new features to its responsive search ads, ad copy options with dynamic features and increasing its helpfulness with cross-campaign results and asset suggestions.

On the 15th July, Google announced that it would be increasing the features of their responsive ads, by adding two headline features: location insertion and countdown customisers.

Google also divulged plans to improve ad copy suggestions and recommendations, as well as the launch of cross-campaign asset reporting. These updates are in the hopes of making the platform easier to use for marketers, providing valuable insights and suggestions at a more magnified level.

The updates don’t stop there, however. In May, Google announced it would sunset gallery ads and move forward with image extensions. On the 14th of July, Google officially launched an image beta.

What are Responsive Search Ads?

Often called “RSA’s” for short, responsive search ads automatically assemble the ad copy a user sees by bringing together copy elements the marketer/advertiser specifies.

For normal ads (search ads), full ad copy must be written for each version to be tested, and for a user to see. RSAs aim to take the heavy lifting out of that process, by breaking components of a text ad into “assets”, which can then be assembled uniquely based on user search terms and intention, ensuring they view an ad most relevant to them.

Headline and body copy are essentially treated as separate elements or assets, where versions of each are listed out. The Google Ads system then automatically pulls an asset from each list (both headline and body), and combines the two to make them a full text ad.

This system provides marketers testing at scale, and gives fast insights into which copy combinations are resonating with the searchers, and generating the highest conversions.

RSAs can feel limiting to some advertisers, since the copy has to be mix and match. Overly themed text ad types may struggle if there’s a strict relationship between headlines and body copy that have to be adhered to.

However, they are a great way to test for things like different value propositions, sale messaging, and other items to learn the phrasing users prefer.

Image Extensions in Search Ads

When enabled and activated on an ad impression, image extensions show a single right-justified image alongside your text ad. The beta is open for both responsive search ads (RSA) and expanded search ads (ETA).



Dynamic or manual. There are two image extension options. You either have the option to upload images relevant to your ads yourself, or allow Google to pull images dynamically from your website, similar to their pre-existing dynamic ads. Optimised images should be square at a recommended size of 1200 x 1200 pixels.

Location Extension Insertion 

This feature was designed to allow the advertiser to insert a location placeholder telling Google the City, State or Country in which the customer is searching from or where they’re interested in (based on previous search history, as well as your campaign’s location targeting type).

It’s inserted in the same way as other dynamic headlines, using the {LOCATION(CITY)} syntax, where “city” can be replaced with a State (if in America) or Country via a radio button selection.

To review the number of times your ad is shown using location insertion, you can check anonymised and aggregated reports. 

Countdown Customisers

Countdown customisers have frequently been used to create urgency around sales on a multitude of e-commerce websites. Google has understood the importance of this and has decided to implement the feature into their ads offering.

Countdowns allow the advertiser to set an end date for a sale. The ad will then calculate the amount of time left between that specific time and when the searched sees the ad, updating it dynamically.

The countdown time can be adjusted to the timezone of the searcher, or set at a global level based on the advertisers location without making any time zone adjustments.

You can bring up the countdown options by typing in the {COUNTDOWN} command. A menu will then pop up that asks the user to populate the rest of the syntax command.


New Ad Copy Suggestions

When creating RSAs, as we covered earlier, the system will populate a dropdown of suggested copy to include in your responsive ad to show to users. Google has updated these suggestions, making it easier for your business to create more informative ads. Now when you create a responsive search ad, Google will suggest commonly used phrases, segmented under their own categories. These will highlight online availability, as well as shipping and return options for your business - information that has become critical in light of COVID-19. 

Cross-campaign Asset Reporting

To help save marketers time, Google has introduced cross-campaign asset reporting. This aggregates the data for each asset, regardless of campaign origin, and gives the user a snapshot of total performance.

This is a valuable tool for marketers, as it will allow them to identify best performers faster, rather than having to review performance individually by going into ad groups and campaigns. 

New Optimisation Recommendation

Google are also introducing a new recommendation to “improve your responsive search ads” when their Ad strength is below ‘Good’.

When checking an account’s optimisation score, look for this recommendation to help identify opportunities that can improve your responsive search ads at scale. Additionally, Google has confirmed we’ll see similar recommendations in Google Ads Editor to “add responsive search ads” to help account managers add more relevant ads across accounts and campaigns in bulk.

What We Think

These new features for responsive search ads indicate that Google is continuing it’s investment in the ad format, reassuring us that it’s not getting axed anytime soon. If you haven’t introduced RSA to your campaigns yet, we strongly suggest doing so.

If you require any assistance with your Google Ads campaigns, our team would be happy to assist you.