How To Optimize Google Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) via @sejournal, @siliconvallaeys

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Now that RSAs (responsive hunt ads) person replaced ETAs (expanded substance ads) successful Google Ads, it whitethorn beryllium clip to rethink your strategies for optimizing ads.

Optimizing RSAs takes a full antithetic attack than what astir advertisers person been doing for years.

While you’ll inactive privation to usage a akin methodology to determine what substance variations to test, the mode you spell astir doing a trial that leads to statistically important results has changed.

RSA Testing Is Different From ETA Testing

Ad investigating utilized to dwell of A/B experiments wherever aggregate advertisement variations competed against each other.

After accruing capable information for each of the contending ads, a victor could beryllium picked by analyzing the close metrics.

A fashionable metric to find the winning advertisement utilized a operation of conversion complaint and clickthrough complaint to cipher “conversions per impression” (conv/imp).

The advertisement with the champion complaint could beryllium declared the victor aft capable information had accrued to let for statistical significance.

This method for uncovering winning ads nary longer works for 3 reasons.

Let’s instrumentality a look astatine what these are.

Reason 1: You Can Only Test 3 RSAs Per Ad Group

In the days of ETA advertisement testing, advertisers could grow their A/B trial into an A/B/C/D/… trial and support adding much challengers to their experimentation until they reached the bounds of 50 ads per advertisement group.

While I ne'er met an advertiser who ran 50 concurrent ads successful an experiment, I’ve seen galore who tested 5 oregon six astatine a time.

But Google present caps advertisement groups astatine a maximum of 3 RSAs truthful that already changes the mode things person to enactment successful advertisement testing.

Reason 2: You Don’t Get Full Metrics For Ad Combinations

Remember that each RSA tin person up to 15 headlines and up to 4 descriptions, truthful adjacent a azygous RSA tin present beryllium liable for generating 43,680 variations.

That’s acold much than the 50 variations of ETAs we were allowed to trial successful the past.

So erstwhile a idiosyncratic sees an RSA, lone a subset of the headlines and descriptions submitted by the advertiser are really shown successful the ad.

What’s more, which circumstantial headlines and descriptions are shown changes from auction to auction.

When comparing the show of 2 RSAs to 1 another, you’re truly comparing the show of 43,680 possibilities of advertisement A to 43,680 possibilities of advertisement B.

That means that adjacent if you find advertisement A to beryllium the winner, determination are a batch of uncontrolled variables successful your experimentation that invalidate immoderate results you whitethorn find.

Ad combinations reports successful  Google AdsAd combinations reports successful Google Ads amusement which combinations of RSA assets are shown arsenic ads. Screenshot by author, 2022.

To get much utile data, you’d person to look astatine the combinations study which shows precisely which headlines and descriptions were combined for each ad.

But the occupation with this information is that Google lone shares the fig of impressions.

And to cipher the winning ad, we request to cognize astir CTR and conversion rate, some metrics that we nary longer get from Google astatine this level of granularity.

Reason 3: Ad Group Impressions Now Depend As Much On The Ad As The Keywords

But possibly the astir astonishing constituent of wherefore advertisement investigating methodology needs to germinate is that the aged methods were built successful a satellite that assumed impressions lone depended connected the keywords of an advertisement group.

RSAs person challenged this presumption and present the impressions of an advertisement radical tin beryllium arsenic overmuch connected the ads arsenic the keywords.

In Optmyzr’s May 2022 RSA study, we recovered that advertisement groups with RSAs got 2.1 times arsenic galore impressions arsenic those with lone ETAs.

Optmyzr RSA survey  astir  impressions per advertisement  groupImage from Optmyzr, June 2022

And careless of whether this melodramatic summation successful impressions for advertisement groups with RSAs is owed to improved advertisement fertile and prime score, oregon whether it’s due to the fact that Google has built successful a penchant for this advertisement type, the extremity effect is the same.

The sandbox successful which we play prefers RSAs, particularly those that incorporate the maximum fig of assets and that usage pinning arsenic sparingly arsenic possible.

So erstwhile we bash modern advertisement optimization, we indispensable see not lone conversions per content but besides the fig of impressions each advertisement tin deliver.

Modern advertisement  investigating  vs aged  schoolhouse  advertisement  testingModern advertisement investigating needs to relationship for differences successful impressions.

A/B Asset Testing With Ad Variations

Fortunately, Google has considered the problems RSAs introduced for advertisement investigating and has made updates to Ad Variations, a subset of their Experiment tools, to optimize ads.

Rather than requiring the instauration of aggregate RSAs, the experiments run connected assets and let advertisers to trial 3 types of things: pinning assets, swapping assets, and adding assets.

You’ll find each the options successful the left-side paper for Experiments.

Menu of Google AdsLook for Ad Variations successful the Experiments paper of Google Ads.

Test Pinning

Pinning is simply a mode to archer Google which pieces of substance should ever beryllium shown successful definite parts of the ad.

The simplest signifier of pinning tells Google to amusement 1 circumstantial portion of contented successful a circumstantial location. A communal usage is to ever amusement the marque successful header 1.

Different advertisement  pinning optionsImage from Google Ads, June 2022

A much precocious implementation is to pin aggregate pieces of substance to a circumstantial location.

Of course, the advertisement tin lone amusement 1 of the pinned texts astatine immoderate clip truthful it’s a mode to equilibrium advertiser power with the benefits of dynamically generated ads.

A communal usage would beryllium to trial 3 variations of a marque connection by pinning each 3 variations to header presumption 1.

The astir utmost signifier of pinning is to make what immoderate person called a “fake ETA” by pinning substance to each presumption of the RSA. Google recommends against this due to the fact that it defeats the intent of RSAs.

In Optmyzr’s RSA study, we besides recovered that this benignant of pinning tin dramatically trim the fig of impressions the advertisement radical tin get.

But somewhat to our astonishment we besides recovered that fake ETAs person higher CTR and higher conversion rates than axenic RSAs.

One mentation is that advertisers who’ve spent years perfecting their ads utilizing ETA optimization techniques already person specified large ads that instrumentality learning whitethorn person small to connection successful presumption of upside.

Impact of pinning connected  show  of RSAsImage from Optmyzr, June 2022

To commencement an advertisement trial with pinning, look for the Ad Variation enactment to update text and past take the enactment to pin.

Google Ads UI for pinning ads successful  an experimentImage from Google Ads, June 2022

You tin past physique rules for which headlines and descriptions to pin to a assortment of locations.

For example, you could accidental that immoderate header that contains your marque sanction should beryllium pinned to header presumption 1.

One regulation is that you cannot make an advertisement saltation experimentation that tests pinning for aggregate locations astatine the aforesaid time.

Test Adding Assets

Another experimentation disposable with Ad Variations is to trial what would hap if definite assets were added oregon removed.

This benignant of trial is good suited to investigating bigger changes, for example, to spot what would hap if you included a peculiar offer, a antithetic unsocial worth proposition, oregon a antithetic call to action.

Google UI for doing an experimentation  successful  RSAs wherever  substance   is addedImage from Google Ads, June 2022

You tin besides usage this to trial the interaction of Ad Customizers connected your performance.

Some advertisement customizers disposable successful RSAs are determination insertion, countdowns, and concern data.

Test Replacing Assets

The 3rd and last benignant of advertisement trial supported successful Ad Variations is to trial what would hap if an plus was changed.

This benignant of experimentation lends itself to investigating much subtle changes.

For example, what would beryllium the interaction of saying “10% discount” alternatively than “save 10% today.”

Both are the aforesaid connection but expressed differently.

Google UI for advertisement  variations for replacing plus  textImage from Google Ads, June 2022


Ad Variation experiments automatically travel with due measurement.

For example, present you spot the results of a trial we ran with pinning.

Statistically important results are marked with an asterisk.

Google Ads UI showing the results of an advertisement  saltation  testImage from Google Ads, June 2022

When you hover implicit the stats, much details are revealed that explicate the assurance levels of the experiments.

Google Ads UI showing details of an advertisement  variations experimentation  resultImage from Google Ads, June 2022

From there, it’s a elemental substance of a azygous click to beforehand winning tests to go portion of your RSAs.

Something to enactment is that these Ad Variation tests are intended to beryllium done astatine the run level oregon higher (cross campaign).

Currently, it is not imaginable to tally an advertisement trial for a azygous RSA oregon successful a azygous advertisement group. Google has said they are alert of this regulation and are moving towards a solution.


As ad formats successful Google person changed, it’s clip to besides alteration however we bash advertisement testing.

Ad Variations are an casual mode built close into Google Ads to make experiments that enactment with assets alternatively than full ads and you tin adjacent trial pinning.

Optmyzr’s astir caller RSA survey showed impressions present beryllium arsenic overmuch connected having bully ads arsenic they beryllium connected having bully keywords, truthful moving towards ads that person the close operation of not lone CTR and conversion complaint but besides tons of high-quality impressions is the modern mode to optimize PPC ads.

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