Manager, Digital

Associate Director, Media Strategy

PPC Guide to RSA Best Practices & Testing

To be a great marketer, you need to be able to quickly adapt to change. At Rise, we know that means constantly adjusting best practices to make sure the strategies we use for our clients are always ahead of the curve… and the most recent Google update. Now that Google officially sunsetted expanded text ads (ETA), we’re sharing exactly how to improve your Paid Search performance using responsive search ads (RSA).

How This Change Affects You 

On June 30, 2022, Google disabled the ability to create or edit existing ETAs within Google Ads. RSAs will be the new default, enabling marketers to easily drive performance and leverage testing at scale through automation. This provides a large opportunity to embrace change and update for the better using Rise’s existing RSA approach! First, here is a quick review on RSAs. 

What is an RSA?

What is an RSA? RSAs are a Paid Search ad type that dynamically adapts to show the most relevant messaging to your customers.  

RSA Example

How do they work?

With an RSA, you can enter up to 15 Headlines and 4 Descriptions as options for your ad copy messaging. These give Google the green light to test out the possible combinations and find which works best for each secured auction.

Rise’s Best Practice Approach to RSAs 

Now that we know how RSAs operate, we’ve compiled how to maximize your campaign structures with this dynamic ad type. 

We set up our paid search campaigns to really let RSAs shine: They maximize the most impactful ads while constantly testing new copy. We therefore recommend using two RSAs per ad group, one evergreen RSA and one testing RSA. With this structure, your ads will be in a constant state of testing without too much risk. Here’s how: 


1. Identify an evergreen, best-performing RSA. This will be your breadwinner, a staple ad that remains live and “evergreen”, or always running. This is the ad that you can trust based on historical ETA performance to perform as expected. 

To determine the evergreen RSA, review your best-performing ETA and incorporate that messaging into the new RSA format. Based on account preferences, you can transfer headlines and descriptions in two ways:

  • Replicate headlines and descriptions that default to having no specific order. In this case, you’re permitting Google to choose the combination that it deems will perform the best among your top headlines and descriptions. This is Google’s default approach to choosing RSAs. 
  • Pin headlines and descriptions exactly as they appeared in the original ETA. You can override the defaults Google has by “pinning” headlines and descriptions, which ensures the ad copy shows up in the exact position you want for each ad. This is a more controlled option that uses your existing data to ensure ongoing success.  

2. Identify a testing RSA, or even more than one if needed. This is where you can have more creative freedom, and try out new headlines and descriptions to determine what else is most effective. Label the ad itself separately to signify it’s a testing ad, and turn it on and off, depending on when you are in a testing or non-testing period. 

By way of each individual auction, Google will choose the ad and combination it believes will lead to the best performance. In certain instances, it will default to your evergreen ad (where performance is likely more stable), or it selects the testing ad to try new messaging, while still choosing a combination that yields the best results. 

TIP: Keep your ads in a fresh rotation by updating and adjusting your top headlines and descriptions, at minimum, on a quarterly basis. 

Next Steps: Deploy and Enjoy 

The Google update is here and live. Paid Search ETAs have officially been sunset, and RSAs are here to stay. RSAs and granular testing are an effortless match, which means you’ll have far more control over not only how you communicate, but what results you get. Future success will include ensuring each active ad group in your accounts have at least one RSA (two for good measure) activated. The more data we have, the more we can help you easily exceed your goals. If you keep these tips in mind, you’ll have smooth sailing ahead. We hope you’re as excited as we are! 

07/15/2022 at 11:44