google display responsive adLike many digital marketers, I eagerly anticipated the release of Display Responsive Ads, for I was drawn to the ability to combine Extended Text Ad functionality with an Image Ad.  When I used this new ad type for the first time, I took the safe route of using existing ad text with a “safe” image. The initial test results were positive…but I felt something was missing from my efforts and I knew I wasn’t really taking advantage of the new ad palette that was being offered to me.  Then, I had my breakthrough…

Normally, the image and ad text would have a symbiotic relationship… thematically linked in a logical nexus so that whichever element the viewer processes first in their mind, the sequencing of the advertiser message makes sense and conveys the sales message. However, Google gives us 90 characters of description space that can be displayed with the image, which is both more space (by 20 characters) and less restricted space (not broken up into 2 distinct blocks) than the traditional text ads we’re used to working with. Ninety characters opens up messaging possibilities far beyond the basic “call to action.”

Businesses know the value of website testimonials, and most feature them on the website.  However, testimonials tend to be a bit peripheral to the sales process…they’re seen but they’re rarely the focal point. The Display Responsive Ad offers an ideal text length for a testimonial and the ability to show a photo or other relevant image of the person/business giving it.

I would apply such a strategy only for mid-funnel retargeting. I would not use these ads in the “Primary” GDN for if the prospect isn’t already familiar with the company, these ads will not perform for testimonials generally don’t “introduce”. Testimonials will either push the person further down the sales funnel that they’re already in, or they could even close the sale.

It’s nice to have the landing page connected to the testimonial ad be thematically relevant to the testimonial messaging (or perhaps even reference it directly). However, it’s not entirely necessary. The purpose of the testimonial in a Display Responsive ad is to act as visual “eye candy” and to draw the click. Making the close isn’t the objective of the ad…that’s the job of the website.

Also, don’t forget the value of view-thru conversions for these ads. If your message and image are compelling, they will be noticed and noted even if they’re not clicked on. The brand association for a large number of impressions tying your business to a powerful testimonial will have a strong positive effect on sales, and if you have the proper attribution setup, you’ll be able to quantify the view-thru value of your efforts

Don’t settle for obvious strategies with Google’s new ad types. Be daring…be creative…and reap the benefits of experimentation.

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Todd Mintz
Todd Mintz, who has been with 3Q Digital since March 2011, has worked in search engine marketing since 2000 and has used Google AdWords since it began. He also is very visible in the SEM social media space and is a curator/contributor at MarketingLand. He was one of the founding members of SEMpdx (Portland’s Search Engine Marketing Group), is a current board member, and writes regularly on their blog.