Paid Search Ad Types & Analysis

Michelle Greenberg
By Michelle Greenberg Director of Operations

Ad types in Google are constantly changing, we’ve seen at least ten different variations of ad formats in the past four years – and that’s just the main ad copy, not including the accompanying extensions that are constantly expanding and changing. Price extensions, image extensions, review extensions and so much more have all been introduced in the past couple of years as well. In this article, we are going to delve into the different ad types that are currently available and also the best way to determine what’s working and how to analyze them and the extensions shown along with them.

Currently expanded text ads and responsive search ads are the top two types of ads for the search channel. Expanded text ads have been around for a nearly 3 years now, but they’ve been constantly tweaked by Google getting longer and longer slowly but surely. Where it stands now an expanded text ad at its fullest form is three headlines (30 characters each) along with 2 descriptions (90 characters each) and 2 paths (15 characters each). In the past headlines were a max of 25 characters and there were only 2 of them, there was also only 1 description line that was a maximum of 80 characters. Each time Google extends the limits advertisers rejoice, because more space gives them a chance to convey their brands messaging in the best way possible. The old format of ads (called simply ‘text ads’) are still available within the account but they are not encouraged to be ran by Google and you are unable to upload new text ads.

On Bing, you are able to upload text ads still, but it is against Bing’s recommendations as well. They do have the same format of expanded text ads available as Google – taking some time to adopt it after Google initially launched but now these two are nicely mirrored on both channels. Bing conveniently provides notifications if you are missing expanded text ads from any of your live ad groups – this can help alert you to where you have the opportunity to launch ETA’s and pause the older format of ads.

Another major ad format that came out most recently for search is called the responsive search ad (also known as RSA’s). This ad format is still in beta for most accounts but can easily be added with a request to Google. Responsive search ads are the search equivalent to the smart display ads that were released last year. RSA’s offer 15 headlines and 4 description lines (30 and 90 characters each respectively). These do not all show up at the same time, rather Google chooses to serve what their algorithm deems to be best at the right time – taking into account the user searching’s location, time, day, demographics and so much more as well as factoring in historical data about each piece of text. The assets can be shown in any order or combination; however, you do have the option to “lock” any of them into a certain position. For example, if you want your headline 1 to always appear first, or if 2 headlines only make sense in a certain order you can lock it in. Sometimes these RSA’s show up shortened as well depending on timing or device. Since this ad type is still in beta it’s super important to monitor the performance closely and in this next section we will get into how to do this.

Since RSA’s are in beta the way to monitor their performance is still a little wonky. Our recommendation to examine how your copy is doing within them is to check out your highest traffic RSA (you can do this by looking at the ad with highest impressions), and then clicking into “view asset details” right underneath the ad. Here you can sort the different lines of text by the number of impressions they received. The way RSA’s work is that they push the top performing copy the most frequently, in this way the highest impression text is the “top performing”. Google will make this clearer most likely if and when they fully roll out RSA’s in all accounts.

To analyze ETAs we recommend downloading all ad copy data from whatever date range makes the most statistically significant sense. Then what you would do is pivot all the data, making sure you pull clicks and impressions so you can determine the click through rate of each ad. We recommend making sure you have 1 RSA and 3 ETAs in each ad group in this way you can test which combination of texts works best and then also see which individual lines of text are working best for your business.

Lastly, to analyze your ad extensions there are a few steps. If you want to figure out how often they are showing up with your ads you take the overall impressions on your ads and divide them by the impressions on the extension you want to examine. Then in general each ad extension has all the key performing indicators available such as click through rate, conversion rate, clicks, impressions and so on.

All in all now you have the best practice recommendations from our agency and from google for your ads and how to analyze them!

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