How to Respond to Google’s Responsive Search Play

How to Respond to Google’s Responsive Search Play

Google has planned to roll out significant changes to increase automation. After June 30, 2022, you will no longer be able to create or edit expanded text ads

Marketers historically have had control over the way a message comes across in the search engine. Google’s upcoming update shifts the way we must go about developing our ad campaigns. The full impact remains to be seen, but one truth is certain: We must exercise a more strategic mindset as we begin to leverage automation in our search ads. 

Today, we’re recapping the changes, sizing up what they mean, and sharing what you can do about them moving forward. 

Current automation options in Google Ads

To give you an understanding of all the ways Google’s changes will affect your campaigns, let’s revisit the previous options available. In the old-world order of expanded text ads, you would submit two to three headlines of up to 30 characters and one to two descriptions of up to 90 characters each. The Google algorithm would decide whether to serve the third headline and second description, which is why they were optional. 

However, the order of the required headlines and descriptions was set in stone. That gave marketers the ability to strategically write headlines that would correspond with one or both descriptions. 

With this system, you had some control of what headlines and descriptions would appear. You could draft three punchy headlines that aligned with a topic. You’d also deliver two description variations that would still make sense for those headlines.

Now, the search engine will require advertisers to submit various options (up to 15 headlines and four descriptions). Google will serve what their algorithms determine will perform the best and be the most relevant. 

What are responsive search ads?

Google’s responsive search ads are ads created by AI and machine learning from a bank of headlines and descriptions provided by the advertiser. 

When searchers begin to scour the web for answers to their queries, Google’s AI will now populate results with different combinations of headlines and descriptions. As Google’s proprietary technology learns to predict the best-performing combinations, it prioritizes the ads that match up with its data models. Those will be the ads shown most often. 

The idea is that by running the AI, Google will deliver search results that are more relevant to the searcher’s terms. And, of course, that means advertisers will get better results and ad performance. On the flip side, Google gives vague insight into the highest-performing combinations, so it’s difficult to know what’s working or how to optimize for improved results. 

Another obvious challenge is how much control the system removes from the advertiser’s side. Machine learning is a powerful tool, but it doesn’t have the instinct or intuition to expand on any of the combinations it creates. Removing the advertiser’s ability to plan the content hierarchy creates a risk that even higher-performing combinations go unconsidered. 

Why is Google shifting to responsive search?

In a word, control. With 91.1 billion visits created in January 2022 alone, Google has a well-deserved reputation as a key part of any ad strategy. They would be silly not to capitalize on their traffic, and this move creates the perfect opportunity to wield more power.  

Plus, automating the search process through artificial intelligence and machine learning has made it much easier for Google to run more efficiently. Google has already recognized the value of relevant ad-to-page experiences, evident in the Quality Score metric. They know that visitors who find a post-click experience that connects directly to the ad content convert more efficiently. 

And efficiency usually means higher profitability. 

As a publicly traded company, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has a deep need to satisfy its shareholders with high profit margins. Lest we forget, Google also benefits when advertisers achieve better results, because it creates higher demand for their platform, rising stock prices, and so on. However, this also creates a monopolistic dynamic, which means the prices will eventually rise as advertisers continue to become more reliant on their algorithms.

So, yes, this change is good for advertisers, but it’s even better for Google and Alphabet. 

The bottom line? The high demand for Google’s platform delivers improved traffic quality. While you may spend more overall, you’ll probably also get more visitors motivated to convert. 

How digital advertisers can adapt

Now that you have these insights, you can prioritize using them strategically. 

Rethink the content you send to Google. A few tactical ideas:

  • Mix up the messages. Since any of the headlines you submit can end up together, make sure you provide a variety. For example, if your brand has three key selling points, you could deliver five headlines that speak to each one. 
  • Optimize search terms. If you aren’t already doing so, pay close attention to SEO and search terms likely to drive traffic to your landing page. Craft messages that speak to those terms to help increase relevancy. 
  • Practice substance over style. While you can inject some brand voice, err on the side of strategic and practical headlines. That’s ultimately what visitors are searching for.
  • Segment by ad group. Focus on creating precise and personalized ad groups for your responsive search ads. You can’t predict what headlines get served. Still, if you group your keywords in narrow segments, you can craft messaging that’s more likely to stick with specific audiences.
  • Play Google’s game. You, too, can automate to increase efficiency. While you can’t control what Google does on their ad platform, you can create and curate the post-click experience. By using automation to scale personalized landing page creation for each audience, you can increase relevancy and likelihood of conversions.

Everybody can win with automation

Automation is a powerful tool, and it makes businesses run more efficiently. That pays dividends when you look at the bottom line. But without experts to guide you through Google’s transition, you may not reap the benefits like they will. That’s why we recommend shifting focus to stay involved in as much as you can. To stay one step ahead and keep control of your narrative, we can help. Let Postclick perform a free conversion analysis on your landing pages. It will include a live page review, an audit of your ad campaigns, page performance and speed insights, and a competitive benchmarking report. Request your free conversion analysis here.

Sarah Flores
by Sarah Flores

Sarah is a copywriter at Postclick, where she specializes in creating customer-focused advertising in the digital age. She prides herself on developing content that unearths valuable insight while being simple to comprehend. When she’s not typing away on the keyboard, you’ll likely find her running on one of Austin’s many scenic trails.

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