What Are Dynamic Search Ads?
At first glance, dynamic search ads (DSAs) appear to just another ad in users search results.
But to the trained eye, there’s one major difference: instead of using keywords to filter and target search queries, dynamic ads use content from your website to target customers.
This is a huge departure from your standard search ad. As we know, keywords are usually the driving factor in well-targeted campaign.
With dynamic ads, Google instead matches uses queries to the content on your website. According to Google, it keeps a fresh index of your inventory using its crawling technology.
Then, when a user searches on Google for a product or service related to the title and/or frequently used phrases on your website, Google AdWords will show an ad that directs to the most relevant landing page on your site.
Do note that dynamic ads are meant to be used as a complement to your existing ads, not as a completely new campaign.
The end goal of dynamic ads is to fill in any gaps you may have missed in your keyword selection and campaign set up.
How Do They Work?
One of the big differentiators between DSAs and traditional ads is in the headline.
Using them, you don’t get to create the headline.
Google creates it for you, based on a user’s search query.
For example, if your pizza company specializes in gluten-free pizza and a searcher types “best gluten-free pizza near me,” Google will return a headline for your business that reads “Best Gluten-Free Pizza.”
Because it’s exactly what the user is searching for, odds are good they’ll give your ad a shot.
And it can even more specific than that.
Take a look at this dynamic ad from Nikon:
Now, it’s probable that Nikon would never actually write that headline for an ad group. But using a dynamic ad, Google can tailor the messaging in the headline to match the user’s search query.
See how that can come in handy? You clearly want your headlines to be as appealing to users as possible, and dynamic ads are a great way to do so.
Keep in mind that Google does pull this information from your website, so all of your major keywords and phrases need to be included throughout if you really want dynamic search ads to work for you.
The Benefits of DSAs
Dynamic search ads are a great way to match user’s intent.
And perhaps the biggest advantage is that they fill in any gaps that your keyword choices leave behind.
Because Google crawls your site looking for keywords, it can often identify ones that you’ve overlooked in your campaign selection, or include ones that were initially thought too low volume to bid on in AdWords.
Beyond that, Google lists the following benefits of DSAs:
- Save time. You no longer have to map keywords, bids, and ad text to each product on your website. Plus, DSAs may help you advertise to new markets faster than other alternatives.
- Frequent, automatic updates to your ads. When you make changes to pages in our index, we’ll crawl your website again to help ensure that your ads are as up to date as possible.
- Show relevant, dynamically generated headlines with your ads. When a customer’s search is relevant to your product or service, AdWords will dynamically generate an ad with a clear headline for the most relevant page on your site.
- Control your campaign. You can show ads based on your entire website, or specific categories or pages. Or, prevent your ads from showing for products that are temporarily out-of-stock.
- Capture additional traffic. DSAs can help you gain additional traffic and sales by promoting your business to more customers than you can reach with a keyword-targeted campaign.
- Control your messaging. The description is a single, long line—giving you more control over the messaging in your ad.
- Display URLs are based on your final URL domain. You no longer have to enter your display URL when creating a new ad. Instead, AdWords will use the domain from your final URL and show it as your ad’s display URL.
Targeting For Dynamic Search Ads
So, we know that in lieu of keywords, Google uses your website to match ads to search queries.
Even cooler than that, you can tell Google exactly where you want it to look.
Dynamic ads targeting is broken down into three categories:
- Landing pages from your ad groups – this includes all the webpages that you’re currently running in your ad campaigns.
- Other categories – these are sets of landing pages organized by theme that you can tell Google to pull information from
- URL targeting
- URL is – lets you target specific URLs on your website
- URL contains – lets you targets certain URL strings. For example, all pages that lead with URL www.example/services
- Page Title – target pages with titles that include certain words
- Page Content – target pages with content that includes certain words
- All webpages – includes your entire site
As you can see, Google gives you a lot of control over what information is being pulled from where. For many marketers, that brings some much-needed peace of mind to a process they’re not directly in control of.
Google also allows you to set page exclusions. So if there are any pages on your site you don’t want to be featured in your DSAs, you have a way to control that as well.
Google recommends creating exclusions for pages that include words such as “sold out” or “unavailable” to block any qualified customers from products or services they can’t purchase.
How to Set Up Your Ad
Setting up your dynamic search ad isn’t much different than setting up any other search ad.
In fact, they all start in the same place.
Once you’ve logged into your AdWords account, navigated to Campaigns and selected “New Campaign,” you’ll select the search network as usual.
Then, you’ll go through the usual steps:
- Set your goals
- Enter your URL
- Name your campaign
- Select the locations to target your campaign
- Choose your bid strategy (automated or manual)
- Enter your bid limit
When all that’s done, expand the Additional Settings and click on Dynamic Search Ads.
There, you’ll find and check the box next to Enable Dynamic for this campaign.
After you’ve hit save, you’ll continue on to create your ad groups. Inside each ad group you’ll find a “Dynamic Ads” tab where you’ll set your target options.
With dynamic ads selected and your target set, the last step is simply creating the ad.
To do so, click New Ad and enter your description text.
…and that’s it. The headline and landing page will be chosen for you to best fit a user’s query.
When to Use Dynamic Search Ads
While dynamic search ads seem pretty great, they’re not that great for every business.
They will mainly benefit brands with large, content-rich websites and plenty of landing pages.
This makes them ideal for e-commerce advertisers with large inventories. Because Google pulls the headlines and landing pages, it makes it easy for e-commerce sites to advertise their full stock, or separate inventory into categories to be pulled from.
Dynamic search ads are even better if the site happens to see a lot of change in their inventory. For example, any sites that sell seasonal products.
In this case, the advertiser’s no longer have to spend the time updating their product lists in AdWords, or removing any that no longer apply.
DSAs will simply pull the appropriate phrases for them.
You can also use this type of ad if you’re running an ecommerce site. In fact, they can often deliver ads with the same level of granularity as Shopping ads.
Dynamic search ads empower you to target product groupings before you even create a Shopping feed. Use them to gain insights into the products that people are searching for most often. You can also learn about conversion rates and the amount you need to bid to land a top spot.
You should also consider using DSAs for remarketing. Set them up so they only appear to people who’ve made contact with your brand. While that strategy limits your reach, it allows you to find people who already know about what you’re selling and just need a gentle nudge in the right direction.
You can also layer the remarketing campaign within a DSA campaign. That gives you the opportunity to reach new people while also reeling in people who already know about your business.
Any Downsides to Dynamic Search Ads?
Naturally, it’s not all good news when it comes to dynamic search ads.
First and foremost, if you don’t have a great website structure or aren’t following the general guidelines for ranking well in the SERPs, these probably aren’t your best bet.
After all, if Google has trouble crawling your site to index it, it probably won’t fare much better trying to crawl it for dynamic ad information.
Another big one is that DSAs have a higher chance to show for less relevant traffic. Even Google isn’t perfect, and comes with the risk of matching phrases from your site to irrelevant searches.
Additionally, sometimes dynamic headlines don’t match the ad copy. That’s going to affect your Quality Score and, ultimately, your conversions and placements.
Also, you shouldn’t include them in existing campaigns.
Why? Because you could suffer some severe budget overruns. Your dynamic search ads will get priority over proven ad tactics.
In other words, you’ll cut back spending on ads that work while rolling the dice on dynamic ads.
And finally, allowing Google to run dynamic search ads means relinquishing a lot of control over your ads. You aren’t choosing the searches they show for or the text your headline displays – Google is.
In the end, the best way to know if these work for you (and if you can handle the lack of control) is to give it a try. Test an ad group or two, and if you find Google isn’t behaving as you want it to, you can tweak and try again or cut your losses.
Here’s a few ways to make sure you get the most out of your ads:
- Make sure your website is optimized for your ads. That means compelling titles (they’re often used in the ads) and well thought out copy.
- Make good use of negative keywords – there will likely be plenty of phrases on your site you don’t want in your ad campaigns, so make sure you take the time to add them to your negative keyword list.
- Target groups based on user behavior. Google recommends starting out by targeting your whole website to cover all relevant search queries.
- Focus on your ad descriptions. This is the one part you can control, so make sure you’re following all the relevant ad copywriting best practices
- Have strong CTAs throughout your site to prompt further user action
Dynamic search can be an excellent option, but you need to know exactly how and what they’re best used for.
Most smaller, lead generation sites won’t have as much success with them as larger, landing-page driven websites.
That said, they’re great for discovering keyword opportunities and tailoring ad content to a qualified audience.
What do you think? Will you be giving dynamic search ads a try?