6 Best Practices For Running Responsive Display Ads

Responsive Display Ads - Woman Sitting at Desk Looking at Display Ads

When it comes to Responsive Display Ads (RDAs), advertisers have to hand over a great level of their control over to Google Ads and Machine Learning. This can be very daunting, and unfortunately, the machine doesn’t always get it right.

However, as advertisers there are things that we can do to help ‘feed’ the machine with higher quality assets and directions, so that it can make the right decisions to create great ad combinations. 
Here are 6 best practices which should be implemented when running Responsive Display Ads.

1. Utilise all asset variation options

 With responsive display ads, we are providing Google with the assets and then leaving it to their algorithms to produce the best combinations at the right time. We can help their algorithms to choose the right assets for the job by providing them with as many options as possible. If we aren’t feeding the machine with a variety of options, then it’s restricted to making the most of what it does have available, instead of what would work best.

For example, whilst Google recommends you add 5 Image assets, you can upload up to 15. Doing so will mean that Google has more options to choose from when it comes to creating the right combination for the available ad size. So if you’ve provided a variety of square image options, then it means that it won’t have to take a landscape option and automatically crop it to make it fit. This will increase the likelihood of your RDAs producing high-quality, aesthetically pleasing ads.

For reference, you can upload:


  • Text Assets:

    • 5 headlines (up to 30 characters)

    • 5 descriptions (up to 90 characters)

    • 1 long headlines (up to 90 characters) 

    • Business name (up to 25 characters)


For your headlines and descriptions, it is recommended that you include both short and long variations.


  • Image Assets: You can upload up to 15 different image assets. It is recommended that you use a mixture of square (1.1) and landscape (1.91:1) options.

  • Logo Assets: You can upload up to up to 5 different logo assets. It is recommended that you use a mixture of both  square (1:1) and landscape (4:1) options.

  • Video Assets: This is optional and you are not required to provide Video assets. However should you wish to utilise Video, then you can upload up to 5 different videos, which ideally should be between 15-30 seconds in length.

2. Always use a transparent PNG file for your logos

You need to pay attention to the type of file you upload for your Logo assets. 

Kiuwan Security responsive display ad with a CTA to request a free demo on a multicoloured background with a padlock on a laptop with people working
Above: How your ad may look if you use a JPEG file instead of a transparent PNG file

If you upload a JPEG file then you risk your logo not blending in correctly when your ads are automatically created. As in the example below, which was created using a JPEG file, the logo section of the ad has not been able to take on the look of the background image. 


A simple change in file type can help improve the quality of your RDAs!

3. Avoid Using Stock Imagery

Whilst you can use Shutterstock for your image assets during the creation of your RDAs, you should still be using your own imagery whenever possible.

Display Ads Stock Imagery
Above: The Shutterstock feature within the RDA ad set up process

Your brand should be integrated into every asset you use, be it text, image or video, and unfortunately by using stock imagery you are doing a disservice to your branding. Any advertiser could be using the same imagery as you have selected, taking away the unique and distinct aesthetic qualities which attract the eye. Whats more, people want to see something which accurately reflects your product or service, not a generic stock image.

Take the time to source high quality image assets by thoroughly exploring content on your website and social platforms. It will be worth the effort! 

4. Don't Use Text In Your Image Assets

Unlike static Display Ads, you don’t need to include text or buttons into your image ads, as your text assets and ‘Call to Action’ text does the job for you.

In fact, if you try to use an image which has text or a ‘Call to Action’ button in it, then you could end up compromising how your ad turns out.

For example in the first ad below, the image assets provided include the company’s logo, text and a ‘Call to Action’ button. Whilst this works as a static image, when used in responsive display ads, it is resized and featured alongside various text assets. As a result the ‘Call to Action’ button has been cut off during the image resizing, and the ad has become very text heavy with multiple messaging, has a duplicate ‘Call to Action’ and the company’s logo is featured twice in two different iterations. In comparison, the second variation utilised imagery without text in it, which works better for the formatting templates used in RDAs. 

no text in images display ad
Above: How your ads might look if you use imagery with text in it vs using an image without text in it

5. Utilise The 'Call To Action' Text Feature

In the ‘More Options’ section at the bottom of your responsive display ads setup, there is an option for ‘Call to Action’ text. Whilst Google will automatically assign a ‘Call to Action’ text for you, this feature allows you to select and use the option which best reflects the purpose of your ad.

The ‘Call to Action’ is important as it signposts the audience to the next stage of the journey, setting up realistic expectations of what they will experience once they arrive on your site.

Options include: ‘Book Now’, ‘Download’, ‘Sign Up’ and ‘Get Quote’. 

call to action display ad
Above: The ‘Call to Action;’ text feature in the Google Ads platform

6. Utilise the 'Customised Colours' Feature

There is a second option in the ‘More Options’ section at the bottom of your RDA setup, called ‘Customised Colours’. If you have branding concerns, or just want more control over how your ads appear, then this is a feature which you must pay attention to during your ad set up.

customised colours display ads
Above: The ‘Customised Colours’ feature in the Google Ads platform.

This feature allows you to define a main and accent colour for your ads, providing you with more control over how your ads appear. You can also dictate whether or not your ads appear in placements where the publishers settings will override your custom colour selections.

Responsive Display Ads are an effective way to maximise the reach of your Display Campaigns, and lean into automation to maximise your performance. However, in order for RDAs to perform as effectively as possible you need to ensure that you put time and effort into their creation. 


Take the time to thoughtfully collect your resources, ‘feed’ the machine with a variety of options to work with and instruct how you want your ads to appear using the additional feature available during setup. When it comes to responsive display ads, the time and effort you put into their creation will really pay dividend

Share This Post

More To Explore