How Google AI is altering the performance of responsive search ads

The speed of change within the Google Ads platform is high with new features being added for advertisers and for those searching. AI features in much of this.

  • For advertisers – changes in how headlines, descriptions and assets selected
  • For end users (in many countries) – Google SGE or Search Generative Experience
  • For the Hotel Industry – a big push on Performance Max with tROAS

Changes to Responsive Search Ads

The devil is in the detail as they say. The strict rule of requiring a minimum of two headlines has been dropped and ads may be shown with just one headline and for this to be longer and show at the beginning of description lines; this is particularly effective on mobile view.

Some helpful editor features include campaign-level headlines and descriptions – which works well for some account structures, and the ability to set on these. This last feature is intended for seasonal offers and promotions.

Very useful for Google Ads professionals is the “combinations report”. Google has at last lifted the lid and provided access to some of the data on performance in different positions.

Less helpful for any well-managed account is the “account level automated assets”. In our opinion, this should always be off for any business that values its brand. Leaving it on removes control over what is added and shown “in your name”.

Changes to Google SGE

Google SGE (Search Generative Experience) is currently only available to users who opt-in, but the number of countries this has been rolled out to has increased significantly.

This uses AI to create useful summaries for end users from multiple sources of search topics. It is currently still classed as a trial, as not all generated summaries are reliable.

We think this is best considered as similar to Rich Snippets – i.e. both a threat and an opportunity. It will mean more information will be available from the search results page without clicking through to an advertiser's website.  Our article on Maximising Website Visibility with Google SGE looks at SEO and paid search strategies for Google SGE.

Changes for Hotel campaigns

Google continues to push solutions through Performance Max campaigns. A new feature here is tROAS (target Return on Ads Spend), and they have announced the sunsetting of some of their hotel-specific campaigns, such as commissions per stay and commissions per conversion. In practice, this does not have much of an impact as most agencies will have already moved their clients onto the better-performing types of campaign.

In summary – 2024 is certainly a year in which almost all changes from Google are AI-driven.

Monday 12th February 2024

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