Pros and cons of Google responsive display ads


pros and cons of google responsive display ads
Responsive display ads are a recent Google product that uses machine learning to create different sized display ads to place across the web. For marketers, this sounds like a game changer. No more designing and resizing display creatives would free up precious time and resources. So, what’s the catch?

While responsive display ads sound like a perfect product for busy marketers, it’s important to take a deeper look into the pros and cons of the product before jumping in. Is it better to try something new or stick to the classic custom display banner format?


What are Google responsive display ads?

Responsive display ads are display ads that automatically adjust their appearance and size to fit into the provided ad space on the Google display network, YouTube, and Gmail. Responsive ads typically include text elements such as short headlines, long headlines, descriptions, images, and business names.

In other words, these are the banner ads you’re familiar with, but created and sized by Google instead of humans. For each ad size, Google’s machine learning determines the optimal combination of headlines and uploaded assets. For a more detailed look at types of Google search and display ads, read our article here.

pros of google responsive display ads

Pros of using Google responsive display ads:

  • Saves time. As we’ve mentioned, a huge benefit of responsive display ads is the time savings. Google automatically combines headlines, descriptions, and imagery to make ads. This simplifies the creative process and management of ad groups and campaigns.
  • Automatic optimization. Google tests different variations of text and images to find the best combination. Over time, the algorithm learns which sets achieve optimal performance and shows them more often. Of course, your ads are only as good as the headlines, images, CTA, and brand assets you provide. For information on asset best practices, check out what Google has to say.
  • Automatic resizing. Ads adapt to the screen size of the user’s device, ensuring there’s no wasted space.
Although responsive display ads seem like a convenient option for display advertising, it’s important to consider their drawbacks.
computer screen with large x on it

Cons of using Google responsive display ads:

  • Limited control over ad appearance. Responsive display ads rely heavily on Google’s AI to determine the optimal combination of assets to create an ad. This means brands have little control over the ad appearance and placement, and variations may not always align perfectly with your brand guidelines.
  • Branding challenges. Ad combinations are displayed based on how Google thinks it will perform. If Google determines your 300×250 ad performs best when it’s a solid color background with a black text headline, that is what your ad will look like. However, if Google makes this design choice for every brand, your ads will look like everyone else’s. A lack of brand identity won’t improve brand awareness. Instead, you blend into a sea of sameness.
  • May not be suitable for specific industries. With less control over the appearance of your ads, certain industries run the risk of missing regulatory disclosures. Highly regulated industries like banking and mortgage lending may need to have visible disclosures on ads. AI does not know this – it looks for optimal combinations, not regulatory requirements.
  • Less insight into campaign performance. Google campaign performance data for responsive display ads is limited. Google only offers a scale of – learning, low, good, and best – to estimate the performance of the ads. It does not provide detailed insights into which specific ad size, combination, or format was shown at any given time. Advertisers have to rely on Google’s discretion and trust that the ads being served are the highest-performing ones.

The final verdict: Responsive display ads vs. custom banner ads

Now that you know the pros and cons of using responsive display ads, it’s up to you whether they are a good fit for your brand. If your goal is to stand out and build brand awareness across the web, creating personalized banner ads with strong branding moves you ahead of the competition. Having control over ad design keeps your brand image consistent and recognizable. Although Google’s AI can confidently mix and match brand assets, it does not consider design or brand standards in the final product.

However, if you lack the resources or time to create correctly sized display ads, or just want to experience new Google technology, responsive display ads could be worth trying.

Post wrap up

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