RSA’s is ad strength a good indicator of optimization?

Recently, we asked if more headlines in responsive search ads (RSAs) equalled better Google ad strength

We were responding to a blog that made bold and seemingly unreliable claims based on questionable data and as we know that RSAs are regularly evolving we want to make sure our current (and future) clients have their campaigns looked after using impartial data outside of Google and Microsoft own performance indicators.

Therefore today we ask. Just because Google suggests an ad is excellent, does that mean it is.

Microsoft vs Google.

In the world of paid search, a few things hold throughout the everchanging search landscape and one is that the ad copy is important. This differentiates you from your competitors, it’s your place on the results page – it’s your chance to (re-)introduce yourself. 

Seasoned (& maybe unseasoned) paid searchers to know that Microsoft has long copied Google in the hope of making campaign maintenance smooth and reporting easy. However, Microsoft does have a separate demographic. Anecdotally this does tend to have different results to Google and is therefore worthy of our time. 

Our split between ETAs/RSAs on Microsoft & Google is (unsurprisingly) similar: 70/30 with our impression split being 20/80. Interestingly Microsoft RSAs have a better Clickthrough Rate & Conversion Rate. 

Source: Our MCCs, Sept 21 to Feb 22. 

Now, all we need to happen is for Microsoft to stop copying Google & allow us to optimise beyond ‘Ad Strength’ & Impressions, then we could perhaps use this data to make some informed decisions about our combinations and where spend is allocated. 

Ad Strength, Impressions, Optimisation & Conversions 

Whilst ad copy is important, you should also consider the helpfulness of RSA’s. When creating campaigns with 20 ad groups and 3 ETA’s in them copy beyond headline one likely becomes less individualised. RSA’s have changed this. The ad copy can refresh itself and automatically show users the best version. Furthermore, only one ad change during times of promotion is another key benefit of RSAs. However, make no mistake, there is still room for error with RSA’s bringing in an increased number of headlines and descriptions. Furthermore, the opportunity for reviewing ad strength and impressions per headline and description remains limited.

Here we have looked at why assessing Google’s ad strength is not a valuable indicator of performance. You may also recall in our last blog we established that more headlines do not necessarily indicate better performance. In paid search, our KPI does not tend to be the volume of impressions, so having this as the only KPI of an ad copy is unhelpful. To clarify, ad strength compared to conversion from the impression, as well as the traditional conversion rate (clicks that lead to conversions) are shown below. 

Is Ad strength a good indicator for optimisation.

Source: Our Google MCC, Last 6 Months, ALL RSAs,  

Like the headlines (where it had been asserted that more headlines = better results) optimising from the ad, strength evaluator is not the best recommendation. Although, we should caveat that you should check this against your campaigns. Furthermore, we should remind you that this is based on a variety of verticals and is a top-level assumption. As a point of interest, the ‘Excellent’ ads have >5 headlines. 

What now? 

There’s a bit of guesswork to ad copy optimisation now. Automation plays a part in whether you have smart bidding in place or not. It is conceivable to think it would be easy to ignore ad copy beyond what is required. This could mean letting it run endlessly without checks. Although, with pinning and the ability to have more than one enabled RSA in an ad group you can easily recreate ETAs. Remember, ads are still your place to invite the searcher to your website. 

If you or someone else runs your paid search campaigns, we believe these are some of the questions you ought to consider. 

  • How are my RSAs running? Does ad strength indicate performance beyond smart bidding results?  
  • If you want to regain some of the control of what potential customers are seeing of your brand on the SERPs, is it worth testing pinned headlines and descriptions? 
  • How often do my ads get refreshed? Do they even make sense? 

All is not lost for ad copy.

It is key to remember your user still reads them when making purchasing decisions. Therefore it is worth your while to make them work. Simply, our recommendation is to not rely on Google’s (or Microsoft’s) algorithm when optimising. 

If you would like to discuss more how RSAs can be used as part of your digital marketing strategy then feel free to reach out here.

Get in touch with the team