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It’s not that I didn’t like Responsive Display Ads (in fact, I use them a lot). It’s just that I thought that given the choice, it would be better to have professionally designed banner ads created in popular sizes, rather than use Responsive Display Ads.

Responsive Display Ads are just that, responsive, and as such sometimes the actual ad doesn’t look as compelling, or as on-brand, as an ad that had been put together by a graphic designer. Partly because it is more text based, and partly because Google combines elements algorithmically rather than according to a specified branding requirement. For some of my high-end clients that is a big deal because their brand is so important to them.

So if the client said professionally designed “banner ads only!”, I didn’t argue. I was a bit meh on the Responsive Display Ads anyway, and figured if the client had the banners those would be fine.

But my thoughts on this were re-evaluated when a member of my team pointed out that we really should be running both banner ads and RDA ads at the same time.

“Why?” I asked. It hadn’t really occurred to me to do that. (By the way, this is a good reason why its important to have top-notch people on your team who aren’t afraid to share their opinions!)

She explained to me that because there are so many different banner sizes on the Google Display Network and because the size of the banner being used is the design choice of the hosting website, its not really possible to get all the impressions you might like if you only stick to popular banner sizes.

Furthermore, not many clients have budgets for all the banner sizes. Afterall, creating 10-15 different banner ads is expensive in both graphic design labour and advertising labour, so many clients will only elect for the most popular, or only the sizes they think look the nicest.

Search for “best banner sizes” and you’ll see many blogs espousing a limited set to use. The trouble is, these sizes are the same sizes that the majority of other advertisers go for, so there is a supply / demand disparity for these sizes. An unusual size may cost much less for an impression.

So we added both Responsive Display and fixed-size ads to our own display ad groups, to compare them side-by-side. we have our ads set to “rotate indefinitely” rather than to show more impressions of the better performing ad. Despite that, you can see the responsive ad got way more clicks and impressions than the fixed size ads in the supposedly “best performing” sizes.

Here’s an example of one where we included both – note 4X more impressions to the responsive ad than the fixed size ads.

Responsive Display Ads

Here’s another example. In this case the difference between the responsive ad and the fixed size ads were very significant in impressions, clicks, CPC and conversion rates.

Responsive Display Ads

Now to be fair, most of our clients are already using Responsive Display Ads rather than fixed sizes, just due to the ease of setting up the responsive ones if their graphic designer hadn’t supplied fixed sizes. But moving forward, we’ll be suggesting to our clients who insist on giving fixed sizes that we give the responsive ads a go, alongside the fixed sizes, so that we can see how they compare.

Then the client just has to choose what is more important to them – perfect branding, or performance?

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SleepWise Clinic

Petra was instrumental in pulling all our clinic's web analytics into one easy to read, dynamic report that's accessible to me at any time, and works with our EXACT booking system.

This has allowed me to see, at a glance, what marketing initiatives are working, need tweaking, or changing altogether, saving me both time and money. I can't recommend her or her analytic services enough.

Ian Gale SleepWise Clinic Strategy Session August 1, 2018

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