Responsive Search Ads Test Text Combinations

Last month, we talked about Dynamic Search Ads – Google’s addition to its campaign types that lets machine learning write headlines for you. This week, we’ll address a similar new campaign type, the Responsive Search Ad, that’s available as a beta test to select users.

You don’t have to be part of the beta testing group to learn about this new format. This article will discuss the similarities between Dynamic and Responsive types and their uses of machine learning, and how you can get started with a new Responsive campaign if the feature is currently available in your Google Ads dashboard.

What are Responsive Search Ads? – More Machine Learning

In brief, Responsive Search Ads use machine learning to better reach your customers by testing combinations of headlines and descriptions you provide ahead of time.

You are responsible, in a Responsive ad, to provide Google with a selection of headlines and descriptions that Google can learn from. Google ads will take your multiple texts and generate unique combinations that best meet queries asked through the Google Search Network.

A breakdown of the process looks like this:

  1. You write several headlines and descriptions for a single ad
  2. Google assembles these texts into dozens of combinations
  3. Over time, Google presents the combinations to Google Search Network users
  4. Google learns which headlines and descriptions work well together
  5. Google tries to increase your ad’s performance by using the best combinations

How Does This Differ From Dynamic Ads? – No Automatic Headline Generation

Dynamic Search Ads work by creating headlines for you. They grab text from your website to make unique headlines that match your users’ searches. One example used in Atria’s previous article suggested that Google could turn the phrases on your website like “we make custom guitars” and “best custom guitars in Salt Lake City” into the ultimate title, “Your One-Stop Shop for Custom Guitars in Salt Lake City.”

In contrast, Responsive Search Ads use your exact headlines and descriptions to create whole ads. By putting forth the initial effort of writing this copy, you gain a few benefits.

Responsive Search Ads give you more space in your headline sections by showing up to three headlines instead of two. They can also increase your description field count and size from one 80-character field to two 90-character fields.

Therefore, the combinations of headlines and descriptions Google can offer your customers is much greater than any ads you may have used before.

Get Started – Or be Prepared

If you have access to the Responsive Search Ad type in your Google Dashboard, you can test your own title and headline combinations by creating a new campaign.

Follow these steps in the new Google Ads experience dashboard:

  1. Click Ads & extensions in the left-hand menu
  2. Click the plus button
  3. Select Responsive search ad
  4. Enter your destination URL, headlines, and descriptions before you save

You can enter between 3-15 headlines and 2-4 descriptions.

You will want to remember that your headlines and descriptions will appear in any order. Therefore, you don’t want to write them so they depend on one another to make sense.

  • A good example of three headlines: “Run Hard in Our Trainers”, “Run Through the Winter Blues,” and “Boost Your Running Stamina.”
  • A similar, but not-so-good set: “Run Hard in Saucony Kinvaras,” “Save 30% on Those Trainers,” and “Pair Those Sauconys With Socks”

The latter set could look odd when some headlines are placed before others. The second and third listings reference information in the first, which is something you should avoid in a Responsive ad.

There are ways, however, to make sure that your titles and descriptions are placed in every ad. You just have to put them in the correct positions. Read further in the Google Documentation to learn more about position pinning and reporting on the performance of your new ads.


Get started today if you’re part of the beta test group. Just check your Ads & extensions menu to see if the Responsive search ad option is available.

And don’t forget to check out our feature, Get Ahead With Great Headlines to polish your copy writing ability.

Good luck with this new format! We’re always here to help if you need us.