December 6, 2021

Responsive Search Ads in Pharma

This fall, Google announced they will be sunsetting Expanded Text Ads (ETAs), the search ad type that the majority of advertisers have been using since 2017. Starting June 30, 2022, Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) will be the only search ad type that can be created or edited in standard search campaigns. Existing ETAs will continue to serve alongside RSAs after June 30, but are expected to fully depreciate and no longer serve in the following months.

We have outlined what Responsive Search Ads are, how they can work within a regulated space, such as pharma, their benefits, and next steps for implementing this ad type in search campaigns.

What are Responsive Search Ads?

Unlike traditional Expanded Text Ads, Responsive Search Ads give advertisers the ability to use up to fifteen headlines and four descriptions. Google Ads use these elements to test different combinations of ads in search auctions. A maximum of three headlines and two descriptions will be shown in different combinations and orders. Over time, Google Ads will test the most promising ad combinations, and use machine learning to determine which combinations are the most relevant for different queries.

How Do RSAs Work for Pharma?

With several possible combinations of headlines and descriptions in generating an ad, there may be concerns with legal compliance teams that certain language may or may not show, potentially misleading an end user about a drug or website. To make these ads work from a compliance standpoint, ad managers can “pin” mandatory language to their preferred headline or description position. This removes uncertainty that language may not show in the specific order that it is intended. For example, a drug name can be pinned to ‘headline 1’ so that it always shows in the most prominent possible position of the ad. According to Google, 20+ Rx brands have already implemented Responsive Search Ads into their search advertising campaigns.

This ad format can expedite legal review timelines, evolving from individual ad approval to overall asset approval of different headlines and descriptions. Revisions coming out of legal review will be quicker due to the modification of individual elements, instead of language across multiple ads.

What Are the Benefits?

Due to the multiple headline and description options available, Google Ads can learn which combinations are most relevant to an advertiser’s target audience. Advertisers that switch from ETAs to RSAs can use the same assets and see an average of 7% more conversions at a similar cost per conversion. RSAs also adapt to device widths, which gives advertisers more room to share their message with potential customers.

Next Steps and Implementation

Search Specialists at Butler/Till have already started integrating Responsive Search Ads for clients to get ahead of the June 30, 2022 change. This will give advertisers time to test RSAs alongside existing text ads to be better prepared for when they are fully deprecated and unable to be edited. We will begin to evaluate historically top performing headlines and descriptions, as well as utilize additional DTC and HCP messaging to build out RSAs for client campaigns.

Moving Forward

Based upon this initial evaluation, Butler/Till will have the data needed to move forward with the best possible options for Responsive Search Ads. Our knowledge will continue to grow as we are able to analyze the ongoing results of RSAs. Our learnings and findings will be applied as we establish and use best practices for search criteria in this new era. Our expanding expertise will continue to produce transformational results for our clients.

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