Affiliate Marketing

PPC RSAs: Do They Live Up to The Hype?


Oh, hello!

Thanks for stopping by to read this blog of mine. All the cool kids are doing it, right?

Now, I’m going to dive into the performance of Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) and see if they live up to the expectations set for them when Google initially rolled this new ad type out back in early 2018.

First, if you’re unfamiliar with RSAs I’d recommend checking out this blog post here to get yourself caught up.

Without further ado, let’s get into it.

What’s All The Hype About?

Responsive search ads have a lot of purported benefits when compared to expanded text ads. According to Google, responsive search ads can help you:

• Create flexible ads that adapt to device widths, giving you more room to share your message with potential customers.
• Save time by providing multiple headlines and description options, then let Google Ads show the most relevant combinations to your customers.
• Reach more potential customers with multiple headlines and description options that give your ads the opportunity to compete in more auctions and match more queries.
• Increase ad group performance by attracting more clicks and conversions that your existing text ads aren’t capturing because RSAs help you compete in more auctions.

Certainly, these are benefits that are worth being hype about! That said, it’s one thing to claim benefits but it’s another thing to see if a new Google product can live up to its promises when in use. I know, they aren’t really promises or guarantees of performance but you know what I’m getting at.

To Hype or Not to Hype?

That is the question. Generally speaking, we digital marketers let the data do most of the talking…so what does the data tell us? I pulled data that compares RSA performance to that of ETA performance from a variety of different accounts/verticals. The data is different from account to account and I would certainly recommend you check your own ad performance for yourself, however, I think there are some top-level takeaways to be considered regardless of how well your RSAs are performing.

The data below doesn’t specifically include clicks and conversions as they weren’t apples to apple comparisons, so to speak. That’s why I viewed performance through other KPIs like CTR, conversion rate, and cost/conversion. I think they paint a better picture.

Ad type comparison

Ad type comparison

Here you can see the performance of ETAs vs RSAs in a few different accounts. Of course, there are many different verticals not represented which is why I encourage you to look at your data for yourself. I just hope this inspires you to do so.

Going back to the benefits bullet points above, there really isn’t any arguing that RSAs allow for flexibility in your copy or time-savings from creating fewer ads. There’s also definitely more inventory for RSAs as you can appear in more auctions due to the flexibility of your ad headlines/descriptions. But what about that last bullet point? Adding RSAs will increase performance by attracting more clicks and conversions? That’s quite the promise that not only will more people click your ads, but more people will convert too!

Across the board, our RSAs have higher CTRs. In my book, that checks off the part about “…attracting more clicks”. As for conversions, the picture isn’t so clear. RSAs have a better conv. rate and cost/conv in our education account but that isn’t the case in our legal or SaaS account.

All that our RSAs have succeeded in doing for our legal and SaaS account is generating more clicks (which means more cost) without bringing in the conversions. That isn’t to say that there isn’t value in RSAs as I would love more clicks in my RLSA campaigns or more clicks in our top-funnel campaigns.

Final Thoughts & Musings

I want to get this point across: RSAs are 100% worth testing in your accounts and can certainly perform better than your standard ETAs. That said, don’t take that performance for granted. RSAs, by default, will not perform better than ETAs. Sure, having RSAs will increase your Google optimization score but having a high optimization score doesn’t guarantee optimal performance…but that’s a whole other topic I won’t dive into here and now.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.