Dynamic Search Ads – How, When, and Why You should use DSA

If you’re a hard-line SKAG (single-keyword ad group) building Google marketer, then Dynamic Search Ads might scare the pants off you.

For some of us to imagine a PPC world without keywords is, well…the end of the world…

But Google’s revamped Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) have brought exactly that.

Google’s effectively taken keyword management into its own hands.

Now, If that freaks you out, I’m right there with you.

But, let me share why Dynamic Search Ads may not be quite as scary as they sound.

I’ll also reveal how, when, and why using DSAs can actually work to your advantage!

What are Dynamic Search Ads?

The big difference between Dynamic Search Ads and a regular search ad is that DSA take content from your website and use that content to match your ads to search queries on Google.

Here’s how Dynamic Search Ads Work.

You specify a group or category of URLs from your website that Google can crawl to use as content for your ads. When a search happens that matches your website content, Google selects your best landing page for that search and uses your page content to generate a headline for your Ad.

The goals of DSA is to fill in the gaps in your advertising that keyword targeting can’t cover, while also reducing your ad copywriting workload.

With that in mind, let’s look at how you can start using DSA to attract more search traffic.

When is it worth using Dynamic Search Ads?

The DSA format is a great way to bridge the “who would’ve thunk it?” gap.

Google notes that 16% of daily searches use terms or phrases Google has never seen before, so DSA is an elegant way to scoop up the relevant traffic you would have missed using keyword lists. Pilot tests for DSA indicated an increase of “5-10% more clicks and conversions with a satisfactory ROI” so, it’s kind of a “mad if you don’t test it” opportunity.

There are a couple of ways you can use DSA:

  1. Employ the format only to people who have already visited your site. It’ll be a smaller reach, but in remarketing you’re in touch with people who are familiar with your brand (point score right there) and looking for similar products.
  2. Or go bold! Layer an acquisition campaign with your remarketing cohort. The wins? You’ll introduce your brand to new people while at the same time being in a position to bid more aggressively to searchers who have already visited your site.

Are Dynamic Search Ads really that powerful? I mean, 5% more clicks? Come on …

Let me share some results with you. The global brand Trivago tested the format in its early days. They obviously have quite a job in maintaining an up-to-date inventory across their markets. Their win? Using DSA helped Trivago reach over 25 markets quickly.

Rather than reinventing the wheel, I’m all for learning from brands as big as Trivago.

Hayneedle also beta-tested DSA, and saw 5% more clicks. Do the numbers on what that would mean for your revenue.

What to look out for when using Dynamic Search Ads

  1. Google receives the search query and, when serving content from your site in response, creates a headline. Auto-generated headlines are great in terms of saving you time creating Ad copy… and extra-great if you have a website where inventory changes regularly. But, automated ad headlines are not so great if you like to have full control over every little detail of your ad campaigns (here’s looking at you, you control freaks 😉).
  2. Make sure you create a comprehensive negative keyword list.
  3. There needs to be a strong call-to-action on your site (CRO is SO IMPORTANT, as usual).
  4. When the customer arrives on your page, what do you want them to do?
  5. Make sure your site’s accessible (and mobile-friendly) so that it’s easily covered by Google.

What’s the good news on DSA?

There’s a bunch of good news:

  1. You’ll save time – no longer having to compile and manage huge keyword lists.
  2. You’ll love the quick updates that Google makes according to the search query entered!
  3. With all that matching-content-to-query going on, the relevance will have you doing a happy dance.
  4. You’ll be relieved to know you get to stay in control of a couple of things. First, you can use DSA for a specific category, page or across your entire site … and
  5. You stay in control of your ad descriptions, so make sure they’re high-quality.
  6. You’ll capture additional traffic because the Dynamic Search Ads create more inventory.
  7. It’s a snappier setup, in that you don’t have to choose a Display URL

Dynamic Search Ads disadvantages

There are a couple of aspects to keep in mind:

  1. You have no control over the headline of your ad, except in the form of the content you publish on your site.
  2. If you are advertising for a client and don’t have control over the website, results may not be as strong. Dynamic Search Ads perform best with healthy sites.
  3. If the website content is not using the right keywords, you’ll have irrelevant keywords being picked up by the bot, and your campaigns will be less effective.

Which businesses will benefit most from Dynamic Search Ads?

  1. Brands that run a truckload of pages – for instance, some e-commerce sites are managing thousands of pages at once.
  2. Your product inventory (and those rich descriptions you write) will provide full keyword coverage.
  3. Businesses keen to take advantage of those keyword searches that Google hasn’t seen before. Dynamic Search Ads can be effective in increasing reach.

Okay, how do I create a dynamic search ad campaign?

Thought you’d never ask. Here we go:

For the Dynamic Search Ads themselves –

  1. In your AdWords account, click ‘Campaigns’.
  2. Select +Campaign > Search Network
  3. On the page ‘Select Campaign Settings’ > Dynamic Search Ads. Name your campaign.
  4. Fill in your domain and the language relevant to the pages you’ll be targeting. Use only one language per campaign.
  5. Choose which targeting preference is most relevant. You can decide to use Google’s index of your site, or set up a page feed that is sourced from a URL spreadsheet.
  6. Open Location Options to choose which geographic locations you’ll target.
  7. Choose the automate bid strategy, using target CPA or enhanced CPC.
  8. Type in your default bid + budget and don’t forget to SAVE.

Building an ad group for your DSA campaign

  1. The first step’s self-explanatory: in the section called “Name Your Ad Group”, enter the ad group name (you’ve got this!)
  2.  Select Google’s Target categories that are aligned to your site and add them to the ‘Selected dynamic ad targets’ column. This will generate a recommended bid if it’s available. You can clear all the recommendations or edit them individually. If a bid isn’t selected for a Category, it will use the default bid for the ad group.
  3.  If you’d like to target the whole site, select ‘Target all webpages.’ This will include each of the pages (and subdomains) that are indexed.
  4.  To choose which pages on your site are targeted, use the ‘Target specific webpages (advanced)’ option and set up the rules.
  5.  Go to ‘Create an ad’ – this is where you’re going to enter a beautifully-written description. Remember, Google gets to make the headline, display URL, and will generate a final URL. So use what you have.
  6.  You DO want to see how your ad performs. So remember to input ValueTrack parameters in the “Tracking template” field of the Ad URL options section.
  7.  Remember to click on “Save ad group.” You can then make further ads from the “Ad groups” tab at the campaign level. This is worth doing so you can see which ad performs best. Just click +Ad in the Ads tab (from the ad group created for your DSA), insert the description and the tracking info. Again, remember to save!

Need to do a bulk edit of bids in your Dynamic Search Ads?

Easy. Go to Campaigns > Ads > check the box on the ads to be altered.

Go to the “Edit” menu > choose “Change text ads.

Make your alterations, or you can duplicate instead, and click “Make changes.”
Over to you!

Comments or questions

What type of results have you seen from DSA?

Go test Dynamic Search Ads.

And If you're already using DSA, what kind of results have you seen in terms of clicks, conversions, and ROI? Share your experience and outcomes with DSA in the comments below.

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