Static vs. Responsive Google Advertising: How to Increase Your Advertising ROI

All the stats show that seniors and their adult children are using the internet more and more every year to research assisted living options. Your audience is increasingly digital-savvy. They’re searching online. They’re using social media. They’re checking their text messages. The debate around whether or not seniors are using the internet is over. The research continues to prove the people you need to reach are online pretty much every day.

Google Ads can be an incredibly effective way to reach your internet-savvy seniors and their adult children. Whether you are looking to increase occupancy after attrition hit your senior living communities hard or are wanting to ensure that you stay ahead of your projected fill schedule for a new property, knowing how to structure your campaigns, selecting the right targeted keywords, and even knowing which types of ads to use can make a big difference between an effective advertising campaign with a high return on investment and a campaign that falls flat on its face. Digital advertising can be expensive, but it can also generate a very high volume of qualified leads.


Static Display Ads vs. Responsive Ads

Display ads are your ads that have images in them and appear in the Google Display Network (GDN.) The GDN is a huge collection — over 2 million — of websites, apps, and videos that reserve display advertising space. When you use Google display ads, they appear in the GDN where your potential leads see, and hopefully click on, them.

You have multiple options for your display ads. If your ads need to be reviewed and approved within a very strict structure, if you are required to use certain fonts and certain colors, or if you are restricted to particular layouts, then your best bet is to stick with basic static display ads.

In pretty much every other circumstance, you should embrace the responsive ad structure in your Google Ads account. So what is responsive ads? Responsive ads take multiple assets (up to 15 images, five headlines, five descriptions, and five logos) and create various combinations in various sizes for the GDN. Google uses machine learning — testing different combinations — and then defaults to the ad combinations that work best. According to Google, advertisers see a 10% higher conversion rate with responsive ads vs. static display ads.


Responsive Ads Best Practices for Assisted Living

So how can assisted living communities use responsive dynamic ads to continually drive qualified leads to their website and get the maximum benefit from their advertising budget? Here are three best practices for responsive ads. 

1. Grab the User’s Attention with Your Imagery

Use high-quality, high-resolution images and logos. Be sure your images have a focal point that makes sense for your ad. The responsive dynamic ads will display at different sizes, so choose imagery that will work at the various sizes.

It cannot be overstated how important your imagery is. If you’re going to use stock photography, choose quality imagery that isn’t used in every other assisted living community marketing. (The man in the grey sweater, the woman in the blue dress. You know exactly which photos we're talking about. Don’t use those!) If at all possible, hire a professional photographer to take pictures on your campus. And if your budget can sustain it, have the photographer provide professional models. This eliminates the issues around what to do with images after a resident passes.

With custom photography, you have wonderful assets you can use across all of your marketing materials (print, digital, social, ads, etc.) We all know a picture is worth a thousand words. Custom photography can be a very sound investment.

For your responsive ads, Google provides dimensions and maximum file sizes for your images and logos. The responsive ad specs are as follows: 


  • Landscape (1.91:1): 1200×628 (min required: 600×314, max file size: 5120KB)
  • Square: 1200×1200 (min required: 300×300, max file size: 5120KB)


  • Landscape (4:1): 1200×300 (min required: 512×128, max file size: 5120KB)
  • Square: 1200×1200 (min required: 128×128, max file size: 5120KB)

Note: Google recommends both types of logos and literally states, “Adding only a landscape logo can limit your reach and isn't recommended.”

2. Use Compelling Messaging That Addresses All Stages of the Funnel

Consider all stages of the buying cycle. From the adult child who is casually searching for information about dealing with an aging parent to the loved one who is considering different communities and scheduling tours to the spouse who is making deposits — your audience is at all stages of that buying cycle. Structure your ad campaigns to meet each of those stages.

Within a single responsive ad, you get five different headlines and five different descriptions. Google will use multiple headlines and multiple descriptions in a single ad, so you want each one to be completely unique. For example, you wouldn’t want to use these headlines together:

  • “Best Assisted Living Community”
  • “Assisted Living Community – Best”
  • “Find the Best Assisted Living”

There’s way too much repetition in those headlines. You want each of your five headlines to be as unique as possible so your message is as strong as possible when they are combined.

Same thing with your descriptions. You get up to 90 characters in your descriptions. Use those characters! And make each description unique. Answer the questions your adult child is searching within your description. Compel them to click on the ad to learn more, schedule a tour, or whatever it is they are ready to do at that particular point in their journey.

3. Create an Amazing User Experience from the Ad to the Landing Page to Conversion

Whatever messaging you use in your responsive dynamic ads, it should be cohesive with the messaging you use on your landing page. (And don’t send people to your homepage! Create a landing page that is specific to the campaign you’re running with your Google Ads. You’ll have a significantly higher conversion rate if you’re guiding your audience through a very specific journey.)

The imagery, the messaging, and the emotional appeal of your ads should carry through to your landing page. If you’re posing questions in your ads, the beginnings of the answers should be on your landing page. If you’re promising certain things in your ads, deliver those promises on your landing page.

Provide an easy conversion on your landing page. Whether it is completing a form to schedule a tour, making a phone call, downloading a guide — whatever your primary call to action on your landing page — make it simple for your adult child to complete. Make sure it works just as well on a phone as on a computer.

Quick Guide to Responsive Google Display Ads

If you're constructing a Google responsive ads template for your assisted living community, here are the three most important things to keep in mind:

  1. Use compelling imagery.
  2. Craft unique headlines and descriptions.
  3. Consider the entire experience from the ad all the way through to conversion.

Do Responsive Google Display Ads Really Work?

Check out the results in the graphic. When we switched from static display ads to responsive dynamic ads, we saw the following:

  • Massive increase in clicks 
  • Decreased impressions as we reach a more qualified audience
  • Increased click-through rate from .19% to .96%
  • Decreased average cost from $.50 to $.17 per click

We continue to see impressive gains across the board. The chart below shows a four-week period over the holidays.

In the senior living industry, unless you’re bound by corporate branding rules, it simply doesn’t make sense to use static display ads. Take the time to write great copy, get engaging images, and build responsive ads. As you run these ads, Google will get “smarter” and you’ll get increasingly better results!

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