Dynamic Search Ads: All You Need To Know

An overview of Dynamic Search Ads in Google.

Back in 2018 Google Adwords rebranded itself.

Gone were the 'words' in Google Adwords. Now Google Ads was here

As you can imagine, there are a ton of different ways to search for something.

Take, for example something simple. Like a bicycle.

If someone wanted to buy a bicycle to have a safer to way to move around during this corona pandemic, and they lived in New York City, think of all the different combinations he could search for that:

  • Bicycle Shop New York City
  • Bicycle Shop New York
  • Bicycle Shop NY
  • Bike Shop New York City
  • Bike Shop New York
  • Bike Shop NY
  • Bicycle Store New York City
  • Bicycle Store New York
  • Bicycle Store NY
  • Bike Store New York City
  • Bike Store New York
  • Bike Store NY
  • Bicycle Shop in New York City
  • Bicycle Shop in New York
  • Bicycle Shop in NY
  • Cycling Shop New York City
  • Cycling Shop New York
  • Cycling Shop NY
  • Cycling Store New York City
  • Cycling Store New York
  • Cycling Store NY

And so on and so forth.

That's a lot of different word combinations for what is essentially one type of product. A bike.

Now imagine if you are a store that does not just sell bikes, but focuses on all different types of microbility. From scooters to rollerblades to longboards and so forth.

That's a whole lot of endless keyword lists to come up with just to get your ad up and running and shown on as many searches as possible.

Is this really the best way for a marketer to spend his time? Thinking of the endless adjectives and synonyms for how people search for things?

For most of the years that Google Adwords existed, this was the model they operated under.

But ever since Google threw out the words from Adwords and rebranded itself as Google Ads, the focus now is on intent.

And likewise, Google has created specific ad categories to help marketers from drowning in a sea of keywords.

One of those are Dynamic Search Ads. And in this guide, we are going to cover everything you need to know about Dynamic Search Ads. When to use them, why to use them, how to use them, and most importantly, when NOT to use them.

Because, like everything that Google does, there are pros and cons to these kind of ads.

So let's begin.

What are Dynamic Search Ads?

Dynamic Search Ads use Google's web crawling technology to target relevant searches with ads generated using language directly from your website.

When someone searches for something that is relevant to your website, Google will automatically create an ad using a headline that is based on the query the searcher used and text from your most relevant landing page.

In this way, the ads are 'dynamically' generated with little to no effort from the marketer.

Google also will only show dynamic search ads in the absence of an eligible keyword-targeted ad.

So if you have created an ad the traditional way using keywords, and that ad is triggered by the search, Google will never show its own automatically generated ad.

In this way, Dynamic Search Ads are meant to widen exposure for your brand or website, because it will only be shown on those searches that you weren't able to target with your keyword list.

The challenge of keyword lists

As you can imagine, Dynamic Search Ads can significantly curb the time marketers spend on creating keyword lists, since Google will automatically create ads by itself.

This can be especially useful for ecommerce websites with tons of inventory and products. Creating keyword lists for every product out there can be enormously time-consuming. With dynamic search ads, Google automates the work for you.

At the same time, Google Ads marketers still like to use keywords because with keyword-generated ads they get to maintain a level of control. And this is important if you want to remain frugal with your ad spend.

The problem with keyword lists are as follows:

First, they are time-consuming. Creating keyword lists for user searches that are relevant to your business can take hours. First you have to think about all the different ways people search. Then you have to think about all the keywords that are relevant to your business.

Second, technology is changing. Just five years ago, the amount of mobile search was significantly lower than now. The way people search on desktop and the way people search on mobile is completely different. With the rise of mobile search has also come up the rise of voice search, which changes how people search completely.

For example, on a mobile phone people will naturally try to be as brief as possible and type out "bus new york-dc" to find out the bus schedule between those two cities.

But with voice search, people will typically talk in full sentences. That same search would look like: "What buses go to dc from new york today?"

The way people search is constantly changing, and forcing marketers to keep up with these changes is fruitless. Google says that 15% of searches that take place on its platform are completely new. It's simply impossible to manually

Third, scaling ad copy is difficult. Thinking of the right ad creative for the proper keyword and correctly matching out the ad to the landing page is a tedious process. In eCommerce, you might have a website with thousands of different landing pages that may require you to constantly update your ad headlines and display URLs.

Google's Answer: Dynamic Search Ads

In order to address this problem, Google has created Dyanimc Search Ads that are specifically designed to give your search campaigns more exposure.

Instead of analyzing your site and all its pages, and creating an ad for each landing page, and adding keywords to those ads, Dynamic Search Ads automate the process by using Google's knowledge of your website and customizing the ads to the content.

How to set up Dynamic Search Ads

First you specify the pages of your website, daily budget and an ad template. Then the customer enters their search term into Google. If Google believes you have content relevant to the search, Google will automatically generate an ad headline and destination URL to the best matching page on your website.

As you can imagine, this saves a ton of time for the Google Ads manager.

How does Google do this?

Using Google’s web crawling technology, Dynamic Search Ads indexes your website and uses that index list to ultimately determine if a customer’s search is relevant to your business.

If the search term matches the index, Dynamic Search Ads will automatically create a headline and a destination URL customized to the customer search term and will enter a dynamic search ad based on your template into the Google Ads auction.

You only need to create the description in the template beforehand. Everything else is automatic and based on the customer’s search term.

Targeting Options for Dynamic Search Ads

Dynamic Search Ads offer several layers of targeting options to choose from.

1. Landing Pages from standard ad groups

This is the simplest option. It includes all webpages that you are using as landing pages for your ads across all your accounts.

2. Categories

Under this option, Google categorizes your website content into sets of landing pages organized around certain themes. You can then choose which themes to target, how to group similar pages and how many themed groups of pages you want.

For example, if you are a bike shop, you can choose to target just the mountain bikes section of your online store.

3. URL contains

Under this option, you can choose to only run dynamic search ads on pages of your website that contain a certain URL element.

If you run a blog for your bikeshop, you could choose to only run Dynamic Search Ads on the pages of your website that include the word 'blog'.

4. URL is

This is similar to the option option, just more specific. Under this option, you can choose one specific page that you want dynamic search ads to run for.

5. Page feeds

Dynamic Search Ads can be based on a feed of specific URLs that are mapped on your website using custom labels.

For example, if your bike shop is running a sale on all road bikes in the winter, you can create a feed and label entitled "On_Sale." In your dynamic ad group, you can then choose to target labels where you choose "On_Sale" as a custom label.

What are the benefits of Dynamic Search Ads?

There are several benefits to using Dynamic Search Ads.

1. More reach and coverage

As mentioned earlier, it can be difficult to think if all the possible ways a potential customer may search for your product or service.

Dynamic Search Ads are a quick, automated way to capture more searches with little extra effort on your part.

2. Save time on ads

As any marketer knows, one of the hardest aspects of Google Ads advertising is creating the ads.

With dynamic search ads, you will no longer need to manage long keyword lists. No need to pause or create new ads based on seasonality. Google's web crawling technology does the heavy lifting for you. When Google crawls your website, it will automatically know that you are offering a sale. And it will then automatically generate an ad for that sale.

3. More transparency, more control

Using the search terms report, you will know exactly what search terms Google is creating dynamic search ads for. In this way, you will learn more about your business and certain search terms you may have not realized would pull in clients when you created your keyword list.

When you analyze the Search Terms report, and you realize your ad was shown on a search term you don't like, you can easily exlude that search term, and therefore exclude irrelevant traffic. Google will no longer show dynamic search ads for that term.

Aligning Dynamic Search Ads with business goals

Choosing whether or not to use dynamic search ads will depend on what your business goals are. These can include increasing reach, automating long-tail keywords and rapid expansion.

1. Ensure your ads appear on more relevant searches

Dynamic Search Ads will be able to complement your existing keyword strategy. With little effort you can get good coverage without complex implementation or campaign management.

2. Have users find you even on long-tail products

For businesses with large websites and many web pages, dynamic search ads are an easy way to avoid missing out on long-tail traffic, something that is harder to achieve with a keyword-targeted campaign-only approach.

3. Enter new markets

Dynamic Search Ads can help broaden the reach and scope of your business, especially in new countries or business areas.

Cons of Dynamic Search Ads

Despite their usefulness, Dynamic Search Ads are not always the best option and they do have their drawbacks.

1. No full control

With keyword-based campaigns, you have more control over which queries your ads are shown for. With DSA campaigns you must check the Search Terms report to make sure Google isn't showing your ad for queries that don't matter and bringing in irrelevent traffic.

In the first few days you set up your campaign, it is absolutely imperitive to go through the Search Terms report to see if Google is reading your website correctly and showing ads for search terms that are actually relevant to your website.

Although Google's web crawling technology is good, it isn't always perfect and this requires extra attention on the marketer's part.

2. Headlines not matching ads

With DSA campaigns, the marketer writes the description, but Google determines the headline, which is automatically generated based on a user's search and the content of your website.

The problem is, it can be difficult to write descriptions that match headlines when Google is the one that writes them.

For marketers that prefer to have full control over which type of message is shown with your brand, then DSA campaigns may not be the best option. In this case, a Single Keyword Ad Group campaign may be better suited.

With SKAG campaigns, marketers get many of the benefits that DSA offers, including ads that match the search queries people use.

While the headlines that Google creates with DSA campaigns are generated from the website, and it is rare to have headlines that are completely off-base, you will only know for sure if you look at the Search Terms report and see which ad headline is getting matched to which landing page.

3. Wasting your budget

DSA campaigns can drain your budget if not executed properly. Just like with any ad groups where a few keywords bring in the majority of search traffic, with DSA campaigns you can have a few products eat up the entire budget before the less-searched but stronger converting products are searched for.

At the end of the day, the extra work involved in tracking your DSA campaigns may end up negating any time saved from creating keyword-based campaigns.

To avoid a few product pages eating up your entire budget, you need to use negatives and continuously monitor the Search Terms report to make sure a few product pages aren't wasting your whole budget.

Alternatives to Dynamic Search Ads

Dynamic Search Ads are designed to show your ad on your search queries you were not able to think of when creating your keyword list.

But that's only one function they serve. The other function they serve is to create a tight match between search term, ad, and landing page.

Since Dynamic Search Ads are based specifically on content generated from your website, Google can all but guarantee that there will be a high match between landing page, search term and ad.

But for those Google Ads marketers that want to maintain these tight connection between landing page, search term and ad, but want to limit the searches that Google shows your ad on, Single Keyword Ad Group campaigns may work better.

SKAG campaigns are where you put only one keyword in your ad group. Your list of keywords then becomes a list of ad groups, or SKAGs. You then add each other SKAG in your campaign as a negative keyword for every ad group.

The net result is you maintain that tight connection between search term and ad shown, while limiting exposure to irrelevant traffic. You can see a video of how it works below.

Try Aori

Want to avoid the irrelevant traffic that Dynamic Search Ads bring in? Try our SKAG tool, where you can get the same tight match between search term, ad headline and landing page, while avoiding Google showing your ad on searches that aren't relevant.

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