What I Fell In Love With: Google AdWords Responsive Ads

Love Adwords Responsive Ads

Google’s release of responsive display ads in July of last year was one of the things I fell in love with in PPC.  Responsive ads will automatically adjust their size, appearance, and format to fit available ad space (text, image, or native). This is amazing for advertisers, because it solves a big problem for us: keeping up with the number of ad sizes. With the list of available ad sizes growing what seems like almost every day, it’s nearly impossible to create all of the ad sizes you need for full coverage on the 2 million Display Network sites. Responsive ads are the solution.

Here’s some tips and guidance on how to create these ads.

How To Create Responsive Ads

Responsive ads are created directly in the Google AdWords interface. Click on the +Ad button and select Responsive Ad from the drop down.

Here are the elements that make up a responsive ad:

Image: This will be the main image used in your ad. It can be scanned from your website or uploaded by you. The recommended size is 1200 x 628 and any text in the image cannot cover more than 20% (this rule will be familiar to Facebook advertisers). I recommend using no or very little text in the image, as you have headline and description lines. Landscape and square images are required, so if the image you select doesn’t look right in both formats then you can upload a second image as well.

Logo: This is optional, but I always upload a logo for brand recognition. Your logo needs to have a 1:1 ratio and should be greater than 128 x 128. Google’s recommended size is 1200 x 1200.

Short Headline: You’ll be writing two headline options for your ads, short and long. The short headline will be used in tight spaces where the long headline doesn’t fit. Short headlines are 25 characters max.

Long Headline: The long headline will appear in larger ad slots and has a 90 character maximum. It’s important to note that even if your long headline is displayed with your ad, it can get shortened and end with ellipses. Because of this, I try not to use all 90 characters and put the most important information at the front.

Description: You have one line of description that can be up to 90 characters. The description will show after the headline but it’s not always guaranteed your description will show with your ad, so put the meaty stuff in your headlines. Just like with long headlines, the description can get shortened as well.

Business Name: The name of your business or brand, no surprises there.

Final URL: Where you want people to go when they click on your ad. You can also use advanced URL options to add tracking or custom parameters.

The Impact of Responsive Ads

Now that you know how to create responsive ads, let’s take a look at their impact.

You are going to get a lot more Display impressions by using responsive ads. Here’s a look at one of our ad groups that’s running both responsive and non-responsive image ads. You can see the vast difference in visibility and traffic coming from the responsive ad.

responsive ad performance

This is from a placement targeted ad group, so it’s not like Google is running our ad on a bunch of random sites.


Something I would add to my Google AdWord’s wishlist would be to have reporting that would breakdown responsive ad performance by image size. That way we could see which ad slots the responsive ads are filling the most often and create non-responsive ads for those sizes as well for testing.

So, with the awesomeness of responsive ads, should you even bother using non-responsive image ads? I say yes. I still have non-responsive ads in the most common ad sizes. Why? Because often times they’ll perform better. With uploading an ad you made in a specific size, you have total control over ad design. (Note: Because of the flexibility of responsive ads, you are no longer able to create and edit standard text ads on the Display Network. Responsive ads will automatically show as text ads.)

Have  you tried out responsive ads yet in your Display campaigns? If so, let us know what you think about them in the comments below.