Learn: Responsive Display Ads

February 18, 2019

In this blog I’ll be going over what responsive display ads are, how to create a responsive display ad, as well as some things we can expect from Google in the near future.

What are responsive display ads?

Responsive display ads (RDA’s) are a display ad type in which you can add multiple variations of short headlines (up to 5), descriptions (up to 5), square and landscape images (up to 15), logos (up to 5), and videos (up to 5). Google only allows you to add one long headline unfortunately.

With all these variations you may ask, “what actually shows when the ad wins an auction?” The answer is that Google uses its machine learning and automated optimization abilities pick the best combinations for the user.

For example; the combination of image ‘1’, short headline ‘3’, and description ‘5’ might be best for one user but  user signals tell Google that the combination of image ‘2’, short headline ‘3’, and description ‘5’ works best for another user.


Ad customization


How to create a responsive display ad

From within your Google Ads Account, either make a new display campaign or simply add a responsive display ad to an existing display campaign. Click create ad and select responsive display ad:


create an RDA


You can then add your image assets:

  • Short headlines (up to 5)
  • Long headline
  • Landscape and square images (up to 15)
  • Videos (up to 5)
  • Logos (up to 5)
  • Final URL
  • Business name


RDA Ad Builder


Then click save and your ad will be reviewed by Google.

When creating responsive display ads, you’ll see the the ‘ad strength’ circle begin to fill in. Google uses this to decide whether you have enough ad assets or not to for Google to rotate and test multiple combinations.

In order to achieve an ‘excellent’ ad strength you’ll need to have at least 5 short headlines, 5 descriptions, and 5 images in rotation.


RDA ad strength


What we can expect in the future

Currently, there’s very little reporting on which combinations work best for RDA’s. Google will only give you a rating of “Performance” on assets that are either ‘excellent’ or ‘low’.


RDA Perforamnce


While this isn’t much to go on, with this information you can still optimize. The obvious way would be to take your learnings from assets that are ‘good’ and create new ones to replace the ‘low’ assets. We recommend doing this on a monthly basis. This should give Google enough time to gather data on each asset, depending on impression volume.

You may also notice that when you go to create a responsive display ad there is no longer the option to make the regular responsive ads. I brought this issue up to my Google rep and he told me that Google is slowly phasing out the old responsive ads and making the responsive display ads the new ‘standard’. I was also told that Google is developing a new dashboard for the responsive display ads that will also give more insights into the performance of the responsive display ads.


As performance marketers we are always testing to find new ‘winners’ and get rid of ‘losers’. Responsive display ads give us a great opportunity to test different combinations of ad assets in a much easier and more efficient way: allowing Google to help do the heavy lifting! With the new performance reports coming out in the near future we will be able to truly optimize our responsive display ads and find what converts and what does not. I’ll keep you posted.