Getting Started and Finding Success with Google’s Responsive Ads

Google Responsive Ads - Stir MarketingResponsive Design

If your brand or business is online today, you’ve likely heard the term “responsive” as it pertains to web design. That is, websites designed in such a way that they’re responsive to different viewing platforms – automatically “shape shifting” so that they look great and function properly on both desktop computer and mobile device.

Responsive online design is critical today with “more than half of all web traffic coming from mobile or tablet” (, and the research-proven reality that people are five times more likely to leave a non-responsive website (Google) without making that all-important conversion from visitor to customer.

So there’s no question that your brand or business should have a responsive website. But did you know that you can also make your online ads responsive, and – in so doing – make them even more effective than before?

Google Adwords

Officially offered back in 2016, Google’s Responsive Ads made the already robust Adwords digital ad service even better for business owners. Why? They improved the potential reach of ads and made creating them easier still!

Advertising with Adwords starts with choosing an ad campaign type which then helps determine the right network. There are two primary Google Ad Networks: Search and Display (or Google Display Network; GDN).

Search ads, which are text-based, show up next to Google search results for people who’ve looked for the kinds of products or services you offer by typing in the keywords and key phrases you’ve chosen in setting up your search ad campaign.

Display ads, on the other hand, are the visual graphics you see just about everywhere else online (including Remarketing Ads – the ones that magically seem to know your interests and follow you around on the web!).

GDN: The Google Display Network

From Google: “The Google Display Network allows to you connect with customers with a variety of ad formats across the digital universe. This network spans over two million websites that reach over 90% of people on the Internet…”

So the GDN offers great “reach” but it also offers myriad options:

“Display is your chance to engage users with appealing ad formats. Text, image, video, or rich media formats can appear on the Display Network. Color and motion attract attention. Animation or video can tell a story. The AdWords Display Network makes it possible.”

All of those options mean that there is a lot to learn – usually more than the average business owner has time for when she’s out growing her business in the real world! (It’s why there are digital advertising agencies like Stir out there – to help business owners avoid missteps and maximize return-on-investment, building campaigns that are destined for success.)

But the arrival of Google’s Responsive Ads just might make advertising on Google’s powerful GDN easier for business owners, including and especially those that don’t have an in-house graphic design team. Here’s how…

Google’s Responsive Ads

Just like most regular display ads, Responsive Ads are built from three main components: image, logo and text. But while the former solution required the use of a graphic designer (and usually lengthy brainstorming, design, and approvals processes), Google now takes those components and automatically builds ads from them, adjusting them dynamically (and on the fly!) to fit into available ad space across the GDN.

Up until recently, display campaigns required that businesses had their designers first create an ad, and then create a whole bunch of versions of that ad in a variety of specified dimensions – one for every possible ad space. That meant a ton of time and a ton of money.

What’s more, responsive ads have been shown to get even better “reach” than the dynamic and animated ads that advertisers used in the recent past.

Because they automatically adjust in size, appearance, and format to fit just about any available space — they’re tailored automatically to match the look and feel of the featuring web page, your targeting and the campaign goals that you have set up. As such, responsive ads can increase impact. Other benefits include the fact that Google optimizes ad components based on performance to create opportunities for improvement, and – because Google’s algorithm chooses the best performing, most appropriate ad version depending on device and audience, these ads outperform other ad types.

GDN Responsive Ad Campaigns by Stir Marketing

Note: Because of these automatic adjustments, it’s important to remember that your ad won’t always look the same – that every iteration of the ad won’t necessarily have all the bits and pieces. For example, the “image format” version of your responsive ad will include your image, your description, your logo, and a button, while the “text format” of your responsive ad will include only your title/heading, your description, and your business name. That doesn’t mean you don’t have control. It just means that each of the components has to be pitch perfect!

The Importance of Good Planning

Just because responsive ads are easy to create doesn’t mean that you should leap into a campaign without lots of solid planning. The same strategic decisions should go into choosing your responsive ad’s components as go into creating any campaign.

Responsive Ad Components


Choosing an attractive, high-resolution photo seems easy enough, but – with any digital visual ad campaign – you must consider how quickly that image has to capture attention – and, most importantly, capture the attention of your target audience. It should also convey to mood of your product or service offering. It has to be on-brand and engaging. For your responsive ad, you’ll have to choose two images and upload a square and landscape version of each. Both should be under 1MB in size.


Your logo will appear in a variety of sizes depending on the ad space Google chooses for your responsive ad. Sometimes that means it’ll be teeny-tiny. That being the case, it has to be a high-resolution version of your logo (on a transparent background) and no more than 1MB big.


With Responsive Ads, you only get so much room to say what you want to say. It might feel a little stifling but there’s power in being able to get your key messaging across quickly.

Note: Creating your responsive ad text should come after you’ve performed in-depth industry, keyword and target market research. In writing for your ad, you must know who your ideal client is, what things they’re searching for online, what your competitors are doing to attract their attention, and what language you should use to outpace those competitors and snag the attention of your top potential customers.

That kind of “deep dive” research is critical for success and can be time consuming if you don’t know how to use all the tools required to do it well. An digital marketing and advertising agency like Stir can help. Click here to skip the “DIY How To” and get started with an agency-driven digital ad campaign now.

Once you know what you want to say, you have to get it short and sweet! You’ll provide Google with the following text-based components for your responsive ad:

  • Short headline: 25 characters or less
  • Long headline: 90 characters or less; used where the ad space allows for more length
  • Description (90 characters or less): The description will appear after the short or long headline and may be truncated depending on the website where it appears. Your headlines should be enticing, but the description is where your all-important call-to-action (CTA) will reside. And it should be super-duper clear! (Internet users are inherently distracted and short-attention-spanned. Your CTA here must tell them exactly what they should do (Click Here Now!) and why.

A word of caution to the enthusiastic among you: it’s very, very easy to spend money on Adwords for very, very few results unless you’ve got a rock-solid strategic digital marketing and advertising plan and a serious committed to regular, detailed campaign monitoring and analysis. It’s the only way you’ll know what’s working and what’s not so that you can modify tactics moving forward.

Have questions about Responsive Ads and what they might be able to do for your business’s bottom line? Get in touch with the Stir team today.