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Since Responsive Search Ads were introduced earlier in 2018, the biggest frustration from advertisers was the lack of reporting that is available. With the ad format still in beta, one thing still holding advertisers back from rolling this out across more ad groups is the fact that its difficult to determine which combinations are working best. To tackle this, Google announced two new features that should help advertisers grow their confidence in the format.

We will now see Ad Strength Indicators when creating Responsive Search Ads, and as a column in the interface. We should now also be able to get some better reporting features for top combinations too.

Measure the strength of your ad with Ad Strength Indicator

The new Ad Strength Indicator measures a combination of relevance, quantity and diversity of the ad copy in Responsive Search Ads. It will then give a score ranging from ‘Poor’ to ‘Excellent’ and combine this with actionable feedback such as ‘Add More Headlines’, or ‘Make Your Description Lines More Unique’. From here, advertisers can then click on ‘View Ideas’ to get inspiration on what more could be done to help improve the score, and then apply if needed. 

Responsive Search Ads Ad Strength Indicator
Credit: Google Ads Blog, 2018

This should start to pop into your accounts from the end of September as a column in Google Ads. As for when this could appear in the ad creation view for Responsive Search Ads, this should be available in the coming weeks. 

Top Tip – Have at least 3 or more ads per ad group, including one Responsive Search Ad. You need to make sure that you are then utilising as many Ad Extensions as possible (at least 3), as well as having ad rotation settings set to ‘Optimize’. 

Responsive Search Ads reporting improvements

There is finally some better reporting functionalities for Responsive Search Ads in the Google Ads interface. 

You can now filter for Ad Type in the Ads & Extensions tab for a view of your Top Combinations. 

RSA Reporting

If you click on ‘View Details’ you can then find some stats for your Assets (Headlines and Descrption Lines), as well as stats for Combinations. It will even tell you how many impressions your combinations have served in the defined timeframe. 

What does this mean for you?

It’s easier for you to test Ad Copy

A few months ago, we reported that Responsive Search Ads could mean the death of traditional A/B testing where your ad rotation settings are set to ‘Do Not Optimise’ and you manually add in ad copy rotations testing messages such as ‘Buy Now’ and ‘Shop Now’ against each other. We still believe that this is the case with the introduction of the Responsive Search Ad, however it’s reporting features haven’t really allowed for this to truly happen yet. The latest announcements have gone some way to improve this, but we think that there is still some work to do before it completely replaces A/B testing methods. 

Does that mean that if we get better reporting features for Responsive Search Ads, and it get’s rolled out globally, that we could see the end of ‘Do Not Optimise: Rotate Ads Indefinitely’ ad rotation settings as an option?

Yeah potentially, but I doubt it will happen any time soon. Think about it, one of the only reasons that this is still an option is because Advertisers still like to have control over their ad testing. It’s deemed a fairer way to split test ad copy as Google will randomly place an ad from the ad group throughout the day. But the introduction of Responsive Search Ads is kind of a happy medium between having control, and not enough control. However, there’s still a lack of transparency around the machine learning and automation behind this which will always bring with it a healthy dose of scepticism from most advertisers. If the ‘Do Not Optimise’ ad rotation setting was eventually removed, advertisers won’t let it go lightly.

Do the better reporting functionality mean that you could be running out of excuses to not test Responsive Search Ads?

Yeah, but I still think that the reporting features still need some improvements which i’m assuming will improve (further to this weeks announcements) if this fully rolls out to all advertisers in the future. 

At the very least, you should be utilising the Ad Strength Indicator features to ensure your ads are working as hard as possible. In theory if your Headlines/Description Lines are more unique your relevance improves which improves your Click Through Rate which then improves your Quality Score, CPCs and performance. 

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Dan Roberts

Founder & Author at PPC hubbub
Dan has worked across different agencies in the UK for over 6 years. He was awarded Rising Star at The Drum Search Awards in 2015. Google voted him as one of the Top 20 Search Specialists in the UK. He founded PPC hubbub after becoming frustrated with the lack of actionable insight from blogs.

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