Responsive Search Ads vs Dynamic Search Ads: Everything You Need to Know in 2024

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Last Updated on: 21st February 2024, 09:35 pm

93% of people who use the internet begin their online journey with a search engine, but 75% never scroll past the first page of results. If you want your Google Ads to be profitable, your ad needs to stand out and speak to every searcher. And that’s precisely why Google offers responsive search ads (RSAs) and dynamic search ads (DSAs).

But what’s the difference between responsive search ads vs dynamic search ads? Today, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know to choose the best option for your business! 

Comparison Table: RSA vs Dynamic Search Ads

Responsive Search AdsDynamic Search Ads
Ad FormatMix and match headlines and descriptions dynamically.Generates headlines and landing pages dynamically.
Manual InputsRequires manual creation of headlines and descriptions.Generates headlines and descriptions on the fly.
AutomationOffers flexibility with multiple ad variations and automatically-created assets (ACAs).Automates ad generation based on website content.
Landing PagesRequires you to manually insert the final URLs.Dynamically generates landing pages from your website.
Keyword TargetingUses keywords set in ad groups for targeting.Uses website content to determine ad targeting.
ControlAllows more control over ad elements and messaging.Provides less granular control over ad content.
Ad VariationsAllows up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions per ad.Ad copy is generated dynamically from the website.
Testing and OptimizationRequires manual A/B testing and optimisation.Automates ad testing based on performance data.
Ad CustomizationCustomisable ad copy tailored to specific keywords.Ad copy is generated dynamically from website.
Ad Copy ManagementNeed to manually update and refresh ad copy.Ad copy updates automatically based on changes.
Audience TargetingTargets specific keywords and user intents.Targets users based on website content relevance.
Campaign ScopeApplicable to Search and Display campaigns.Primarily used for Search campaigns.

What Are Responsive Search Ads?

Responsive search ads are a Google Ad type that allows you to add multiple headlines and descriptions. Google then uses machine learning to show the most relevant message combinations to the target audience.

Throughout your campaign, Google tests different combinations to see which performs the best.

RSAs are a vast difference from the standard Google AdWords ads (the older Expanded Text Ads, replaced in 2022). Previously, you had to manually create different ad groups and ads to test combinations and then analyse the results to find the best combinations. With RSAs, Google Ads will do it for you.

In each RSA ad group, you can insert:

  • 1-5 short titles of 30 characters each
  • Title (up to 90 characters maximum)
  • Up to 5 descriptions of 90 characters each
  • 15 horizontal or square images, maximum
  • Up to 5 videos of up to 30 seconds (should be uploaded to YouTube beforehand)
  • Want help creating them? Why not try ChatGPT

Plus, since 2024, Google Ads has also added AI to help you automatically create assets (ACAs) for your RSAs. The algorithm will scan your website pages, URLs, and other keywords, landing pages, and ad content to create assets that match your campaign goals.

You’ll be able to create ACAs on the campaign level, as well as remove and adjust any that may not work for you. The algorithm will automatically remove assets that aren’t working as well as they should, and you can analyse their performance in the “Asset source” column of your campaign-level reporting.

Google believes that RSAs are the future of Google Ads so strongly that they announced that responsive search ads would become the default ad type.

Image showing how responsive search ads work in Google Ads
Source: Google

Pros & Cons of Google AdWords Responsive Search Ads

RSAs save a lot of time for business owners launching their first campaigns and PPC consultants alike. Add your best headlines and descriptions, and allow Google to test various options.

The caveat, of course, is that Google chooses the combinations, and I recommend having a bigger budget to allow Google’s algorithm to gather enough data.

Similarly, be careful when creating headlines and descriptions. You want to make sure they all sound reasonable when combined, and try to avoid repeating yourself.

Finally, when combined with proper targeting, responsive search ads allow you to compete in more auctions. 

If you want to scale your Google Ads, RSAs may well be the way to go!

What Are Dynamic Search Ads?

Dynamic search ads (DSAs) are designed to automatically target audiences searching for products or services that are relevant to what you offer on your website — even if they’ve never visited it before. Dynamic ads adapt according to the individual. The goal is to show the most relevant imagery, copy, or landing page. 

While creating a DSA campaign, there’s no requirement to write the ad copy or select keywords. On the contrary, you create a headline and provide a description. Google then scans your website and creates ads based on the content it finds there. 

When a potential customer searches for a relevant term, Google will match the ad to their query in a process called keyword matching, and show it to them. 

The headline and description of the ads are automatically generated based on the content of the specific page that Google picks to feature in your ad.

How Dynamic Search Ads work in Google Ads
With DSAs, your website content creates your ad copy for you. / Source: PPCexpo

Pros & Cons of Google Ads Dynamic Search Ads

As a Google coach with 15+ years of experience, I only recommend DSAs to big eCommerce businesses that want to advertise every product on their website.

For example, you may already run campaigns for your best-sellers and specific product categories, but if you want to ensure nothing slips through the cracks, launch a DSA campaign.

However, be mindful of cannibalisation; you don’t want your DSAs to start competing for the same keywords as your standard campaigns, dilute the results, and inflate your Cost Per Click

With DSAs, there’s no need to map keywords, bids, and ad text to each product on your website. Google will scan all the pages you’ve decided it’s allowed to and then automatically create ads that target searchers based on their demographics and intent.

Ultimately, DSAs are great for capturing additional traffic by identifying fresh opportunities that aren’t already being targeted with your other campaigns, but be cautious and consult a Google Ads expert before you launch.

Responsive Search Ads vs Dynamic Search Ads: Key Differences

Targeting Criteria

DSA campaigns target potential customers based on the products or services they’re interested in, whereas RSAs target potential customers solely based on the keywords they used in their query.

Ad Control

With DSAs, you can’t control what Google will show as the headline or description of your ad, as it depends on the content of your website. 

With RSAs, on the other hand, you create the headlines, descriptions, and imagery yourself, so you have some control over what potential customers see. Still, you can’t choose the specific combinations Google will display.

Responsive Search Ads vs Dynamic Search Ads: Targeting

With DSAs, you start from your website, and then Google reverse-engineers it to find the right people for your products. You can target your whole website or specific sections, products, or pages.

RSAs allow you to target customers based on their keywords, location, language, time of day, and much more.

Performance Data

Google provides more data for RSAs, so you can see how individual elements perform and optimise your campaigns for better results. (This is fantastic if you run different campaigns, as you can use the RSA insights across your ad account.)

With DSAs, you can see data related to your ad as a whole — so optimising your campaigns will be challenging.

When Should You Use RSA vs DSA?

Responsive Search Ads Use Cases

Responsive search ads are best used when you want to test different combinations to understand which performs best and apply the learnings across your campaigns. 

Yes, technically, you can use RSAs to give Google complete control over your ads, but it’s not something I would recommend. It’s much better to learn how Google Ads works, so you can control what it’s doing. 

(I’ve had numerous clients come to me for help because they’d allowed Google to run amok and waste their ad budget, believing that the platform’s algorithm knows best.)

Similarly, RSAs are great for diverse audiences and testing personalisation. If your product or service inventory is large, it may be better to experiment with RSAs than to set up specific campaigns for each.

Dynamic Search Ads Use Cases

Dynamic search ads are best suited to eCommerce businesses (with a large or constantly changing inventory) that want to scale their Google Ads success (or validate new products’ popularity).

As a Google Ads consultant, I recommend using DSAs to supplement your standard keyword-based campaigns. Fill in the gaps and get insights. Then, use them to strengthen your existing campaigns. 

The Verdict: Should You Try RSAs or DSAs? 

Let’s face it – the best search ads meet the critical four goals:

  • Reach the right people
  • Deliver a strong message
  • Send leads to the right place
  • Convert them

When implemented properly, RSAs and DSAs can both help you achieve these goals.

However, choosing the right ad type (or combination) depends on your business and your goals. If you’re new to Google Ads, I recommend starting with RSAs to test the waters. You can also grab your copy of my best-selling Google Ads book showing you how to do it step by step!

Then, as you gather more data, start testing DSAs. But no matter what you do, don’t launch a campaign without proper research and enough data. And if you need assistance, I’d love to help you increase your ROAS with the best that Google Ads has to offer!

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