Howdy, Search Scientists friends! In today’s post, we are going to talk about Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs), Google Ads’ solution for you to increase your PPC campaigns’ reach and drive incremental volume to your website.
We’ll cover a lot of things, including:
- What Dynamic Search Ads are
- How their targeting works
- Who should use them and what their benefits are
- DSAs optimization best practices and how to bid for this type of campaign
- Mixed or separate search and dynamic campaigns?
- We aren’t forgetting about Bing Dynamic Search Ads either
Let’s dive right in!
WHAT ARE DYNAMIC SEARCH ADS AND HOW DO THEY WORK?
Dynamic Search Ads (or DSAs) are a powerful way to find customers on Google, by targeting searches automatically, without keywords. Yes, you’ve read that right: without keywords. How does this work more precisely? Well, Dynamic Search Ads use content from your own website to target online users and deliver relevant ads and landing pages, based on their search queries.
Before we dig into the tactical steps behind creating and targeting for this kind of campaign, here’s a dynamic search ads example: Let’s say someone searches on Google for “flights to New Zealand”. DSA will respond to this specific query and show a tailor-made ad matching this particular search. Once they click the ad, they’ll land on the page with flights to New Zealand. This way, the path to conversion shortens.
THE DSA TARGETING METHODS
We won’t get into details on how to create this type of campaign as it is a very simple and fast process, but you can find all the steps on how to create a Dynamic Search Campaign in the Google Ads support pages.
Instead, let’s dig into the targeting methods of DSAs.
There are 5 DSA targeting options, ranging from tight URL control to targeting the whole website. Choose the one that is right for your business to get the best possible performance from Dynamic Search Ads.
- Landing pages from your standard ad groups
- as it makes it easier to increase traffic on the webpages you’re already using in your accounts, Google recommends you start with this one. The downside of this option is that, depending on your keyword coverage, you might miss opportunities.
- excellent option for crawlable, large websites, organized in a clear way by theme. You can decide which sets of pages to target and how to group similar pages. You can create separate ad groups for your main categories (auto-targets) and tailor your ad according to the content.
- Page feeds
- very useful when you have non-indexed websites and very large ones. It allows you to create a large set of URLs and pages to target. You can even label the pages and target the URLs with those labels only. Maintain the feed and make sure it’s accurate.
- All webpages
- this option targets your entire website, providing the greatest reach. It is dedicated to advertisers with large websites, who are comfortable with automation, but it requires careful monitoring.
- URL: URL is / URL contains
- this option is suitable for advertisers who need more control for optimization purposes (eg. for specific promotions) and have non-indexed sites. Just keep in mind that, although you have more control, this option could limit your DSA’s potential.
WHO SHOULD IMPLEMENT DYNAMIC SEARCH ADS AND WHO SHOULD NOT?
As far as we’ve seen across the accounts we’re managing for our clients, Google Dynamic Search Ads would be most helpful for:
- Large brands with content-rich websites or any business who wants to maximize coverage of a diverse range of products. So, if you’re a huge e-commerce website, with lots of landing pages, go ahead and test DSA.
- Travel, retail and local businesses.
- Seasonal e-commerce websites – if you have a lot of changes in your inventory, DSAs will help you, so that you don’t spend extra time creating new ads.
- Any advertiser looking to find incremental value, any well-optimized account already successfully targeting high-volume generic keywords, wanting to cover any possible gaps.
- Advertisers who are just beginning with search advertising or don’t have time to manage search campaigns.
However, from our experience, DSAs are not that great for all websites.
As this type of campaign uses machine learning, which requires time, it is not suitable for websites with rapidly changing content, such as daily offers (except the case when you use feed-based targeting, which we mentioned above).
Another DSA setback is that they could show for less relevant traffic. So, if you don’t have a great website structure, it’s better not to use them yet, as it makes it hard for Google to crawl your site effectively.
SEVEN BENEFITS OF USING DYNAMIC SEARCH ADS
As for the advantages of using DSAs, here they are:
- Spend less time configuring AdWords.
- Better performance with minimal effort. These campaigns are easier to set up, maintain and optimize than the traditional keywords campaigns. With Dynamic Search Ads, you even skip doing keyword research.
- Capture incremental traffic.
- Actually, this is the main benefit of Dynamic Search Ads. You’ll get more people coming to your site.
- According to IAB, there are 15% new search queries on Google every single day. That translates to more than 500 million searches that Google has never seen before. Capturing all that only with manual keyword work is a lot to struggle with.
- By using DSA you reach the full potential of your account because they capture additional traffic that might otherwise be missed by traditionally targeted keywords. In other words, you’re filling in the gaps.
- Frequent automatic updates.
- Whenever you change anything to pages in Google’s index, they’ll crawl the website again to make sure that the ads are up to date. Isn’t that helpful?
- Fair amount of control over your campaigns.
- You can decide whether or not you want to show dynamic search ads for a specific product page, for everything inside a category or the entire website.
- Tailored ad headlines for every search query.
- Google Ads dynamically generates a headline and chooses a relevant landing page.
- Custom Display URLs.
- You don’t have to choose a Display URL, nor paths. This one will be based on your final URL domain.
- According to Google, when compared to the average non-branded campaigns (broad match and phrase match keywords) across several verticals globally, the DSA campaigns delivered 15% more clicks, 30% higher CTR, 30% lower CPC and 35% lower CPA. So, why not test them and see how they work for you?
RECOMMENDATIONS AND BEST PRACTICES WHEN OPTIMIZING DYNAMIC SEARCH ADS
- Create at least 3 dynamic ads per ad group;
- Add all relevant extensions;
- Have a good description. You can’t control your headline, but you can control your description. So take time and really focus on writing a great description.
- Have a strong Call to Action! Make sure you also have one on your website in order to increase your conversion rate.
- Check the headlines. From our experience, sometimes Google DSAs could make pretty bad headlines.
- Combine DSA and RLSA. Layer your existing lists onto these campaigns to see better results. You could use the “All visitors” list as bid-only audience targeting, or apply granular remarketing lists with bid modifiers.
- Use negative keywords. You should definitely have a good negative keyword list. You can see the search terms’ performance that triggered your Dynamic Search Ads in the search term report and exclude the irrelevant ones that won’t bring you conversions, so you avoid wasted spend.
- Also, this report could work as mining for keywords expansion, or better new keywords discovery. These search queries weren’t triggered by your current keywords, meaning that you can add the high volume ones as keywords in your regular search campaigns.
- You can also start by targeting all webpages in a “Catch All” DSA campaign. This way you can see where most of your traffic comes from. Create this campaign to ensure the full coverage of your website, inventory, and any other search query not targeted in your category or keywords campaigns. You can leave it to run for a month and then have a look at the category and search query reports to create more granular campaigns based around categories.
- Identify the webpages that are low-performing or irrelevant and exclude them.
- Don’t set it and forget it!
BUDGET AND BIDDING IN THE DSA WORLD
Unlike the traditional campaigns, where you apply bids to the targeted keywords, here you set bids at the auto-target level.
Your DSA campaign’s daily budget should be at least 10% of the regular keyword campaign budget.
If using manual CPC, start with similar CPCs to your Broad Match Modifier or Phrase Match keywords. You could also use the bid simulator recommendations for each website category.
For an extra performance boost, automate your bidding with Smart Bidding strategies. As we mentioned in one of our previous posts, they take into account a wide range of real-time signals to optimize bidding towards conversions. We recommend using Target CPA, Target ROAS or Enhanced CPC.
DYNAMIC SEARCH ADS CAMPAIGN OR HYBRID CAMPAIGN WITH DYNAMIC AD GROUP?
There are two ways you can benefit from DSAs in your account: separate DSA campaigns or hybrid campaigns containing both search ad groups and dynamic ad groups. (You might already know that here at Search Scientists, we are fans of segmentation whenever possible.)
So how do you choose which one to use? Well, it depends on the strategy you have in mind.
On one hand, you can use hybrid campaigns, meaning mixed search and dynamic campaigns when DSA is an extension of your search activity and you have the same budget, bidding, and targeting.
On the other hand, you can use separate campaigns if you have different strategies: different budget, bidding, and targeting.
And now, let’s answer the question that’s probably on everyone’s mind: Is there any cannibalization between DSA and regular search ads?
Sorry to disappoint those of you who are bloodthirsty, but dynamic will trigger only if there is no other exact match keyword in that campaign or account to trigger the search query. Otherwise, DSA won’t enter that auction. However, Google may show the dynamic search ad instead of a broad match or phrase match keyword-based ad, if the first one has a higher ad rank.
Now, to keep a certain level of control, you could exclude all the other keywords in your account in the DSA campaign, so they don’t cannibalize. This way you really make sure that you’re using it only to find additional traffic and not steal it from your other campaigns.
DSAS, NOT ONLY A GOOGLE ADS THING - BING DYNAMIC SEARCH ADS
We cannot stress it enough. If you’re not running Bing, you’re leaving money on the table. If you’re profitable on Google Ads, chances are you’ll be profitable on Bing Ads, too. So — if you’re running PPC campaigns in Bing Ads, which we hope you do, go on and extend your reach with Bing Dynamic Search Ads.
Similar to Google DSAs, Bing Dynamic Search Ads will pull content, keywords, and key phrases from your website and use that to target your search ads. Once you set up your targeting, your ads will be created automatically; all you need to add is a description.
You can easily import your existing DSA campaigns from Google Ads or set up new ones in just a few steps, similar to the Google Ads experience.
Just keep in mind that Bing won’t scan your existing keywords inside the account, so you’d better add negatives in the DSA campaign for each and every keyword you are bidding on in your regular search campaigns.
At the moment, Bing DSAs are only available for advertisers in the US, UK, France, and Germany.
CLOSING THOUGHTS - Should You Try Dynamic Search Ads?
You might still be asking yourself if there is any reason to create Dynamic Search Ads if you already have carefully-written handcrafted ads that are performing well. In our opinion, yes! Dynamic Search Ads are a great way to supercharge your PPC campaigns. They can be really effective and drive an impressive incremental volume when they’re set up correctly. And that’s the main takeaway. So use them responsibly! They don’t compete with your Search, RLSA or Shopping campaigns; rather they complement them.
And that’s a wrap on Dynamic Search Ads! Now, go ahead, give it a try, see if they are a good fit for your business and let us know how it goes in the comments section below.
If you’ve tested them in the past, you’d better test them again. Both Google and Bing have made updates to become more efficient.
You can also apply for a free account audit and we’ll help you with an action plan to immediately improve your PPC account for a better ROAS.
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Until next time, always be optimizing… dynamically 😉