Practical Ecommerce

Using AdWords’ New ‘Responsive Ads’ Format

As of yesterday, January 31, Google AdWords no longer allows advertisers to create or edit standard text ads. This should not come as a surprise. In September, Google announced the January 31 deadline, and the AdWords interface contained a notification throughout January.

Most advertisers are on the bandwagon with the new expanded text ads, which Google created in early 2016. But there is one area that many advertisers have overlooked: text ads in display campaigns. Yes, you can have text ads in re-marketing and display campaigns — and they do quite well in my experience.

But what replaces standard text ads? Responsive ads.

What Are ‘Responsive Ads’?

Responsive ads are an evolution of richer text ads that Google launched in 2015. Richer text ads are, essentially, standard text ads with formatting to make them resemble display ads. I wrote a post about richer text ads last January. Richer text ads must have performed well, because now Google is focusing on responsive ads, a similar concept. Here’s the description from Google.

Responsive ads automatically adjust their size, appearance, and format to fit just about any available ad space. For example, your responsive ad might show as a native banner ad on one site and a dynamic text ad on another, as it automatically transforms itself to fit precisely where you need it to go to meet your advertising goals. As such, responsive ads can increase your reach and impact while also saving you time.

So, basically, advertisers supply the raw materials and AdWords fits and blends to any ad placement.

How To Create Responsive Ads

In your AdWords account, navigate to the Ads tab.

Navigate to the Ads tab in your AdWords account.

Navigate to the Ads tab in your AdWords account.

Then click this “+Ad” button.

Ad Button

Ad Button

Click on “Responsive” ad and you’ll enter the ad creation wizard, which looks like this.

The AdWords Ad Wizard interface.

The AdWords Ad Wizard interface.

Creating a responsive ad requires seven steps.

Step 1: Select an ad group. If you were already in a specific ad group, this will have been pre-populated. If you were in a campaign or the account level, you can select a specific ad group where this responsive ad will reside.

Step 2: Add images and logo. You need three distinct ads with specific sizes and aspect ratios. All must be less than 1 MB.

  • Landscape image. 1.91:1 aspect ratio; 1200×628 pixels suggested, 600×314 pixels minimum.
  • Square image. 1:1 aspect ratio; 1200×1200 pixels suggested, 300×300 pixels minimum.
  • Logo image. 1:1 aspect ratio; 1200×1200 pixels suggested, 128×128 pixels minimum.

Note that you can produce the square image by cropping the landscape image in the AdWords wizard to a 1:1 aspect ratio. Thus you need only one landscape image and one logo image.

Step 3: Short headline. You have up to 25 characters for the headline, the same as your previous standard text ads. Consider using the headline of the top-performing standard text ads as a starting point for your responsive ad testing. It is usually displayed with the description — see below.

Step 4: Long headline. This is the most tricky component because it’s new. You have up to 90 characters and in some ad formats this will be displayed instead of the short headline and usually without the description. So it has to be a combined headline and call to action. It’s more like an expanded text ad. For ideas, consider using some of your best Headline 1/Headline 2 combinations from your search ads.

Step 5: Description. This is, basically, the new home of the previous Description Line 1/Description Line 2. But with up to 90 characters, you have new real estate.

Step 6: Business name. There is not a fixed character limit in this field. If you have a very short business name, you can get away with adding a descriptive word or two. Don’t push it so far that people won’t recognize your name, but it can improve your ad.

Step 7: Final URL. This is the URL where you want a visitor to go once they’ve clicked the ad.

Ad Samples

Fortunately the responsive ad wizard has five previews to show how Google will combine the components to create ads. Here are the potential templates. I used a stock photo of an electrician to illustrate.

Preview 1: responsive ad in text format with a short headline.

Preview 1: responsive ad in text format with a short headline.

Preview 2: responsive ad in an image format with a short headline.

Preview 2: responsive ad in an image format with a short headline.

Preview 3: responsive ad in a native format with a long headline.

Preview 3: responsive ad in a native format with a long headline.

Preview 4: responsive ad in an image format with a short headline.

Preview 4: responsive ad in an image format with a short headline.

Preview 5: responsive ad in a native format with a long headline.

Preview 5: responsive ad in a native format with a long headline.

The first preview is the previous richer text ad format and the subsequent four previews are new. The newer formats look like banner ads because of the imagery and logo, but they are still clean and simple.

Robert Brady

Robert Brady

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Comments ( 4 )

  1. Carlos Rivera February 2, 2017 Reply

    I can’t wait to create this ad for our business. Thank you!

  2. Anne Cox February 2, 2017 Reply

    Extremely usefull, thanks.

  3. Sajid February 9, 2017 Reply

    Very useful info. Thanks !

  4. amber May 22, 2017 Reply

    Why?

    I honestly cannot understand how these are superior in aesthetic than the old ones? The old ones had so much variety in aesthetic appeal with colour and style optimisation, now this?

    I am so disappointed, especially since my competitors are still running the old ads and they are much more appealing to customers!