Google Ad Creative Specs and Best Practices 101August 30, 2021
This article will cover ad specs, best practices, and screenshots of the most used types of Google Ads Creatives. By the end of this article, you’ll have a high-level understanding of the different options for Search, Display, Video, and Discovery ads, as well as what’s required to set them up.
Extended Text Ads, or ETAs, are the base of a standard, classic Google Search text ad. Strong ETA include the keywords you are bidding on and a clear call-to-action and value proposition about what your brand can offer the searcher.
Screenshot of Google SERP Results
On the front end, Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) look very similar to extended text ads. However, these newer additions to Google Ads creative options use Google’s AI to adapt ad copy to your customers per search query.
Screenshot of Responsive Search Ad in Google Ads Previewer
RSAs allow you to input multiple headlines and descriptions and will present AI-managed combinations of copy to your customers. These flexible ads allow Google Ads to find the optimal combination of headlines and descriptions for your campaign goals. It’s important to note that RSAs can show headlines and descriptions in ANY combination, so you must draft copy that could theoretically be combined with the others in the package in any order.
NOTE: You have the option to “pin” headlines to force one of your headlines to always appear. This is not recommended but can be used to highlight priority brand messages.
Google’s RSA documentation explains, “After you enter headlines and descriptions, Google Ads assembles the text into multiple ad combinations in a way that avoids redundancy, different from expanded text ads, you can provide up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions for a single responsive search ad.”
Google’s documentation describes Ad Extensions the best: “Extensions expand your ad with additional information, giving people more reasons to choose your business. These may increase an ad's clickthrough rate by several percentage points.”
In short, extensions provide more opportunities to go beyond the character count restrictions of your ETAs and RSAs to give paint more context in your ad. Extensions show in response to each individual Google search result page, so each search may display different extensions to win the click.
We'd recommend that each ad account includes these extensions.
Sitelink Extensions appear on the SERP and lead directly to specific pages within your website, like a home search page, whitepaper page, or community page. Desktop search can display up to 6 sitelinks, while mobile search can display up to 8. Sitelinks are part of your Google ad budget, and do not cost extra to add the account while greatly improving visibility and appeal to your ad.
Screenshot of Sitelinks in Google Ads Previewer
For almost all clients, Sitelink performance metrics indicate that they are closely linked to an increase in overall conversions in the account and tend to have excellent click-through rates.
Google Ads’ documentation describes Callout Extensions: “you can promote unique offers to shoppers, like free shipping or 24-hour customer service. When customers see your ads, they get detailed information about your business, products, and services.”
Screenshot of Callout Extensions in Google Ads Previewer
Callouts let you highlight business offerings (like “Top Builders” or “Virtual Tours”). These phrases add richness and contact to the ad copy with no additional budget requested.
Unlike Callout extensions, which can be used flexibly, Structured Snippets extensions highlight only specific products/services within a Google-specified header.
Screenshot of Structured Snippets in Google Ads Previewer
These are the only header options currently available, and each header type has specific policies about what CAN be included within the header.
Google ads cautions, “It's important to make sure your header and values match, as a mismatch is the most likely reason your snippets will be disapproved.” For example, Structured Snippet Requirements state that under the “Amenities” header, you can list “Parks, Waterpark, Trails, Fitness Center”, but you can’t list, “Residents love it here.” Structured snippets should be a list of specific examples under the header.
Image Extensions were launched in 2021, and we’ve found that they perform very well in terms of CTR and conversions. To use image extensions, your account must have a good history of compliance, been open for more than 90 days, and an eligible vertical of sub-vertical (alcohol and sexual content, for example, are not eligible for image extensions).
Preview of Image Extension on Mobile in Google Ads Previewer
We have found that the best performing image extensions, by far, are square ratio.
These show up almost exclusively on mobile searches, and the image helps to add more context and richness to the ad.
In summary, Google Search offers many opportunities to deliver robust creative to give your ad the best chance of being clicked. When writing ads, it is important to remember:
The Google Display Network is a powerful and low-cost way to reach new audiences at scale with visual ads as they browse websites, watch YouTube videos, check their email, or use mobile apps.
Screenshot of Google Display Ad on Mobile
Display is best used to:
With changes to 3rd party cooking tracking, there will likely be changes coming to how Google Display campaigns can target users, but the intent of these campaigns should remain the same. There are four types of Display Ad creatives to consider, but this article will focus on creative specs and use cases for the first two.
You can design Image Ads and upload them as creative assets for a Display campaign. Uploaded images give you the power to have full control over the look and feel of your brand on the Display network. When creating Display ads, you will need to create the following sizes. We’ve noted with a (*) the sizes we have seen performing the best this year.
HTML5 Ads, animated and static GIFs, JPGs, and PNGs are all acceptable file types if the file sizes do not exceed 150KB. Learn more about limitations for launching HTML5 Ads in Google’s documentation.
Responsive Display Ads are officially the new default ad creative type for Display campaigns. Google’s documentation describes it, “To create a responsive display ad, upload your assets (images, headlines, logos, videos, and descriptions), and Google will automatically generate ads to be shown on the Google Display Network.”
Responsive Display Ad Sample from Google Ads Previewer
RDAs, similar to Responsive Search Ads, use the headlines, descriptions, and images you provide and create AI-managed combinations per user until it finds the optimal combination. You can pull RDA asset reports to see which images, headlines, and descriptions are performing the best in the campaign. It is important for all assets to be able to be shown in any combination and still make sense.
RDAs are flexible and are sized to fit various Display Network image sizes, eliminating the need to create assets of different sizes for Google Ads.
The short answer: test it and find out.
The long answer: Not sure if you should start with image ads or responsive display ads? If you have the budget and time, launch both and A/B test for them against each other. Some metrics to look at within the next month include:
In general, we have found that CTRs, conversions, and bounce rates in Responsive Display Ads out-perform uploaded image ads for most of our client’s campaigns. However, each account is unique, and some of our clients benefit from having a highly-branded animated display creative.
As a Google property, YouTube ads can be served within Google Ads Manager, and with over 2 billion logged-in monthly users, YouTube can be a powerful way to extend your brand’s reach. 74% of adults use YouTube, and it is currently the second most-used social media platform with billions of hours of video views daily.
Screenshot of YouTube Ad Preview
Videos are an important ad component for brand awareness, consideration, and to inspire action. Learn more about YouTube ABCD’s of Effective Creative.
YouTube recommends launching ads from 6 seconds up to 3 minutes long, however, the best performing lengths for ads tend to be:
What are Google Discovery Ads?
We have internally described Discovery ads as “Imagine if Google Search and Display had a baby.” Discovery Campaigns help you reach up to 3 billion customers across Google properties – Gmail, YouTube, Google Discover Feeds.
Discovery ads take your assets (headlines, descriptions, AND images) and build dynamic carousels for various properties in a single campaign. They are optimized to reach new customers that would be interested in your brand or product based on signals you can specify in targeting.
Google describes the value of Discovery Ads: “Thanks to Google's audience and customer intent signals, this campaign type helps you deliver highly visual, inspiring personalized ad experiences to people who are ready to discover and engage with your brand.”
Discovery Ad Specs
There are two types of Discovery Ad creatives: single-image ads and multi-image carousel ads. Needed assets are similar.
Single-image ads create AI-managed combinations of provided copy and images, so it is important for each headline, description, and image to be paired with each other in any combination.
Multi-image carousel ads allow you to choose how headlines, descriptions, and images (and destination links) are displayed per carousel card, like the structure of a Facebook Carousel Ad.
Required assets include:
How Blue Sky Marketing Captures Your Audience’s Attention in Google Ads
Google has many creative options, designed to align with the intent of your audience as they navigate through Google’s many properties. Creative is a key part of a successful Google ads strategy, but it isn’t the only component.
Google Ads Help offers excellent documentation for creating effective Search ads as well. For more information and to get your questions about strategic targeting, keyword strategy, and choosing the right ad type for the right audience, start the conversation with Blue Sky Marketing.
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