What’s the Beta on Google’s New Responsive Search Ads?

Okay, so that’s a climbing play on words which few will understand but I couldn’t help myself. 

In today’s post and podcast, let’s review what’s happening in the Google Ads space where there is yet another change to the format of search ads. Now in BETA, Google Responsive Search Ads.

What are Responsive Search Ads?

This is a new (and not yet required) ad unit which is being introduced by Google Ads. Note that these are different than the current primary search ad unit, Responsive Ads. Sure, no creativity in naming the ad units on Google’s part. Google has update the format of search ads about 4-5 times over the past few years, keeping us agency types bust. This one though, is the last “for a while” according a couple reps who we’ve spoken to about it.


The responsive search ad unit has a lot of features, but there are really 2 to focus on.

  • Headline: Provide a minimum of 3 headlines and a maximum of 15. Google will choose up to 3 headlines to show to the end user. For headlines, you are able to “PIN” one or more to appear always.
  • Description: Provide a minimum of 2 descriptions and maximum of 4. Google will choose up to 2 to show to appear at any one time.

In addition to the headline and desciprtion changes, Wordsteam put together a great summary table of the other ad features below:

Why Responsive Search Ads?

The new responsive search ad unit is yet another step toward ad automation with Google. Over time and based on the specific user (current query, previous query history, behavior, etc.), Google will choose the headlines and descriptions which are most likely to generate interaction. This machine learning process has been in place for years, but now it’s much more robust. We feel that this ad unit is sort of a hybrid between Dynamic Search Ads (one of our favorite ad units to run) and the existing Responsive Ads. In time, as responsive search ads mature out of BETA, this will likely be the only search ad unit and thus, you’ll only be required to create a single ad per ad group (which simplifies things for sure).

Best Practices for Implementing Responsive Search Ads in You Account(s)

Responsive Search Ads are a BETA product and should be treated accordingly. At this time, the official recommendations are:

  1. Implement a single responsive search ad unit alongside your existing responsive ads
  2. Set a reminder and measure results. How is the ad unit performing (CTR, conversions, your other KPIs, etc.) relative to other ad units.

Additional Resources