Google’s Favoritism Towards Responsive Display Ads

July 20, 2021

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Any marketers on the Google platform, website designers, and SEO specialists are well versed in the term “responsive” at this point. The term has several applications in the marketing industry, including responsive website design and responsive marketing, but, at Orchard, Responsive Display Ads (RDAs) are top of mind lately.

Google first launched Responsive display ads in 2016 to help accommodate a mobile-first world. These ads involve both visual and textual creative assets and involve hundreds of varying ad iterations. With your uploaded assets, Google employs machine learning to test these various combinations with the ultimate objective of finding unique, curated messaging that most highly resonates with Users and filing as much inventory as possible on the Google Display Network (GDN).

Google Responsive
Source: Google

In conjunction with RDAs, Google gives advertisers the option to launch images ads, also known as banner ads, legacy display ads, or traditional display ads. The vernacular typically varies depending on who you’re talking to. These forms of display ads are locked when it comes to visual display and asset dimension, and more limited when it comes to placement on the GDN.


Our theory, at Orchard, is that Google will gradually phase out image ads on the GDN. We have seen similar behavior with other Google advertising assets and channels, such as expanded text ads (ETAs) on the Google Ads paid search platform. As of February 2021, Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) became the new default ad type, and there are suspicions of Google ultimately sunsetting ETAs by the end of 2021.

Responsive Display
Orchard Senior Living Client – Forest Hill

Looking at the numbers, we have various clients that run RDAs in tandem with image ads. On average, Responsive Ads receive up to 90%, or more, of the Clicks “share” and up to 3x the CTR. Not only do these ads receive more interaction and engagement, but we’ve also observed a significantly lower average CPC, often times 10-20 cents lower than image ads.

At Orchard, knowing that we coexist in a digital, changing environment, our gold standards are continually evolving with technology and data. Going forward, Orchard’s guidepost with the GDN will be to solely employ RSAs. Not only does this asset type allow for scaled testing, but this recommendation is also out of the impression that these asset types may no longer be accepted by Google down the road.

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