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What are responsive search ads (RSA)

Google Ads provides a number of different formats. Responsive search ads are a highly flexible format of Ad, and they automatically adjust their content based on the search terms a user enters. The ads are designed to optimise your campaign performance, and are highly adaptable. 

What are the key features of responsive search ads?

Multiple headlines and descriptions

A key feature of RSA is the fact that you provide up to 15 different headlines and 4 descriptions. It is a good idea to try different messaging with each, so you can speak to different target audiences. 

Automated optimisation

Google uses machine learning to automatically optimise your ad performance. It experiments with different headline and description combinations to learn what works best, and over time will use those permutations more to improve your campaign CTR. 

Adaptation to different devices

Users aren’t just on desktop nowadays, meaning your ads need to work seamlessly across a number of devices: phones, desktops, and tablets. RSAs are able to adapt their appearance to fit all manner of different screen sizes, meaning your messaging is always in front of your audience. 


Although the key benefit of RSA is the automated testing of different combinations, if there are specific headlines or descriptions you want to be displayed across all your ads, you’re able to pin them.

Performance reports

Google provides you with detailed reports of how your ads are performing, what your CPC rate is, and what combinations of headlines and descriptions are working well together. 

What are the benefits of RSA?

They increase relevancy

By adjusting your ads based on the users search terms, your ads are more likely to be relevant to their interests at that specific moment. As marketing is all about demonstrating your ability to meet a need at a given moment, this is likely to improve your campaign performance. 

They save time

RSA takes all the work out of testing different headlines and descriptions to find the best performing combinations. Just provide your copy and let Google do the work for you, and get a detailed report to see what’s working and what could be refined.

Potential for increased reach

By having multiple headlines and descriptions, your ads are more likely to be shown against a wider number of search terms, and as a result, a wider number of potential customers. You can also adjust your language to appeal to different audiences, which will also make your adverts more compelling. 


You can let Google’s machine learning handle all of your adverts, or if you want to have more control and input over what is displayed, you can use the pinning feature. 

Are there any disadvantages to RSA?

Not immediately effective

Because RSA uses machine learning to adjust your adverts over time to increase its efficiency, that means there is an initial learning curve where your adverts may not perform optimally. 

You don’t have full control

A benefit and a limitation, you don’t have total control over your adverts and how they appear to the potential customers. You have the ability to ‘pin’ certain headlines or descriptions, but there is no way to control every aspect – the majority of your ads will be automatically put together. 

Does the copy all work together?

Because your ads are composed of different headlines and descriptions you’ve provided, you may encounter situations where the combination doesn’t work, and your messaging becomes confused or unclear. 


Not every setting and feature is available for RSA. For instance, RSA does not support countdown customisers or some ad extensions. 

Ready to get started with responsive search ads? We have templates available to help you hit the ground running. If you want some help with managing your responsive search ads, we’d be more than happy to help! Just reach out and let’s start a conversation!

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