Jul 22 2019
Basis Technologies

The Benefits of Using Dynamic Search Ads to Drive PPC Advertising Goals


Dynamic search ads, commonly referred to as DSAs, have been around for quite a while now, but they’re still not widely used by the majority of advertisers. Both Google and Bing offer DSAs as an option to automatically generate PPC ads for search campaigns, but contrary to popular belief, the feature offers many additional benefits beyond just automated ad creation. In this article, we provide a comprehensive guide to DSAs and insight into their value for performance marketers.

What are Dynamic Search Ads?

Dynamic search ads are ads automatically created by Google based on a user’s search query and the content on your website. Creating targeted ads is time-consuming, especially for businesses with a large inventory. DSAs can help you find customers on Google and present them with the most relevant offer for their needs.

When you opt-in for dynamic ad targeting, Google bots crawl your website, match search terms to your site content, and then create a dynamic ad. This ad type is ideal for advertisers with a well-developed website or a sizeable portfolio of goods or services. When someone searches on Google for terms related to your landing page titles and content, Google Ads selects the most relevant landing page and generates a related headline for your ad.

For example, say an advertiser owns a hotel chain and someone searches for “luxury hotel New York.” Google then creates a relevant ad with the headline “Luxury hotel - NYC” and links to the appropriate landing page. There’s no way to tell the difference between dynamic search ads and regular PPC ads in Google. They look exactly the same in search results: 

There’s no way to tell the difference between dynamic search ads and regular PPC ads in Google

DSAs, though, have the potential to deliver more relevant messaging based on search queries and your landing page content.

And Google isn’t the only search engine offering DSAs as a campaign option: Bing does the same with a few additional features to maximize ad targeting relevance.

The Benefits of Using Dynamic Search Ads

All sorts of marketing initiatives are automated. This leaves some advertisers wondering if ad copy creation should be one of them. But using DSAs has many benefits beyond automating a time-consuming task: 

Fill Gaps in Keyword-Based Campaigns 

Accurate keyword targeting is a powerful way to reach audiences through paid search, but even accounts with the most comprehensive keyword lists are bound to miss some relevant search queries. Since DSAs involve independently scanning your landing pages for suitable terms to target, they can fill in any gaps that come up in your keyword-based targeting campaigns.

More Relevant Ad Copy 

With traditional ad targeting, there’s no way to create a headline that’s optimally relevant for every target keyword in an ad group. DSAs offer a unique opportunity to create the most relevant headlines every time, based on both your landing page copy and the exact search term people used to find your ad.

Automatic Updates 

A major challenge for advertisers who sell many products is keeping their ads updated when inventory changes. DSAs address this issue by regularly crawling your website and adjusting your ads accordingly. As a result, Google will never show ads for products that are temporarily or permanently out-of-stock. Clicking through on ads for out-of-stock products is frustrating for users and results in wasted budget spend for advertisers. Using DSAs helps you automatically minimize campaign performance issues from inventory changes.

In the same vein, if you make changes to your landing page copy or product descriptions, DSAs will consider this in the new ad copy it creates. This ensures your headlines are always maximally relevant to your landing page content.

Control Campaign Targeting 

While DSAs are automatically generated, you still have complete control over who you target and with what content. Google’s DSAs offer several options for targeting: 

  • Landing pages: targets all web pages you’re currently using for search ads across your accounts. This option is preferable if your goal is to increase traffic to target landing pages from your current ad groups and campaigns.
  • Categories: allows you to select certain landing pages and group them into categories based on a theme.
  • Page feed: involves using a spreadsheet of URLs to indicate which parts of your feed to target. You can then create labels for different landing page URLs for more focused targeting. For example, you can create labels based on title type, keywords on a page, text within the URL, etc.

Capture More Quality Traffic 

Dynamic search ad targeting helps advertisers create more relevant ads that reach a larger audience of people beyond traditional keyword targeting. Automatically creating ad copy that optimally matches user search queries increases clickthrough rates on ads and ensures they’re directed to the most relevant landing pages, encouraging more people to convert on-site as well. 

Keywords don’t always match search intent in the way advertisers expect, leading them to unintentionally target low-quality leads that aren’t interested in their products or services. By considering both your landing page content and search query relevance, Google Ads can help improve the quality and quantity of leads you attract from PPC ads.

Save Time 

Lastly, like with most marketing automation technologies, DSAs save significant time. Creating comprehensive keyword lists and matching them to relevant landing pages is a major undertaking for even the smallest Google Ads accounts. The same goes for creating relevant headlines that best match your keyword categories.

DSAs take on both of these tasks, freeing up account managers to focus on campaign optimization or pursuing growth initiatives. Automating tedious tasks empowers advertisers to spend more time improving budget spend, campaign targeting and performance, driving important business goals in the process.

How to Create Dynamic Search Ads

Interested in trying out DSAs for yourself? Here’s how to create dynamic search ads in Google Ads. (For Bing dynamic search ad instructions, read this article.)

  1. Create a new campaign.
    1. From your Google Ads account dashboard, click Campaigns from the page menu on the left.
    2. Select New Campaign, then Search Network.
    3. Next, you’ll be prompted to select one or more goals for your campaign.
    4. Lastly, enter the domain name you want your ads to target then click Continue.
  2. Choose your target locations and languages.
    1. Continue normal setup by naming your campaign.
    2. Select locations to target your ads
    3. Select languages.
  3. Set your bid strategy.
    You can choose manual bidding or opt for an automated bid strategy where Google optimizes bids for you. For dynamic search ad campaigns, target CPA or enhanced CPC automated bidding options are recommended. Enter your bid limit (optional) and budget.
  4. Enable DSA.
    1. Expand Additional settings and click on DSAs.
    2. Check the Enable DSAs for this campaign checkbox.
    3. Then click Save and Continue to move on to creating a dynamic ad group.
  5. Create a dynamic ad group.
    1. On the next page, you’ll see options for ad group type. Dynamic is the default option, so don’t change anything here.
    2. Next, you’ll name your ad group and set your default bid. This is also where you select your targeting strategy: landing pages, categories, or page feed. If you’re not using automated bidding, you can also adjust your bids manually here.
    3. When you’re finished, click Save then move on to creating your ads.
  6. Create ads.
    It’s possible to create more than one DSA, so you can test performance and see which ones are most effective.
    1. You can add more ads to an ad group in the campaign you already created by clicking New ad;
    2. Enter your description text
    3. Click Done and then click Save and Continue.

That’s all you have to do to create a DSA campaign and start seeing the benefits for yourself!

Targeting and Performance Tips 

Dynamic Search Ads are automated, but there are still many campaign optimizations you can make to improve performance. Here’s how to create DSAs that maximize campaign performance from the beginning:

Expand Your Dynamic Search Ads 

Google Ads offers expanded text ads as an option to add more descriptive text to ads on Search and Display. At first, this feature was only available to traditional ad types, but in 2017, they rolled it out for DSAs as well. Using the expanded description field gives you an opportunity to deliver a more relevant and meaningful message to your audience. It’s also the only part of your ad that isn’t dynamically created.

Expanded text ads is an important feature for advertisers who want more control over their ad messaging than what basic DSAs have to offer.

Create Experiments 

DSAs aren’t for every kind of business, but many can see positive results using this ad type to better target their audiences. To get an idea of how DSAs might perform, try targeting a specific audience to experiment. For example, you can use dynamic search ads to target Re-marketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs). If the campaign improves ad visibility and clicks, then you can expand to target more of your audience.

You can also experiment with different ad targeting strategies, such as landing pages, categories, or page feeds. Create exclusions for pages that might not perform well, and see how it impacts performance. 

Lastly, you can also set bid adjustments to increase or decrease your ad target bids. This gives you more control over when you use dynamic ads to target your audiences.

Create Negative Keyword Lists

One issue some advertisers have with DSAs is a lack of control over what search queries their ads are shown for. They have to depend on Google’s interpretation of their site content for keyword matches. There’s always the possibility Google will misinterpret meaning, showing ads for irrelevant search queries in the process. 

One way to prevent this problem and improve DSA performance is by creating negative keyword lists. If you’ve run traditional ad campaigns in the past, you’ve probably already built a list of negative keywords that are equally relevant for DSA campaigns. Otherwise, you should take the time to consider how Google might misinterpret your landing page content to create negative keyword lists. If that’s too challenging, then the best option is to launch your DSA campaigns then closely monitor your Search Terms Report to see what kind of queries your ads are showing for. Then you can add negative keywords to your list when necessary.

Use Automated Bidding

You can use manual bidding with DSA campaigns, however, automated bidding and automated ad creation work quite well together. When both processes are automated, Google Ads can use auction-time signals to set bids and improve performance. For instance, it’s possible to set bids based on the exact wording of a user’s query to better match your bid strategy to what people are actually searching for. Target CPA, Target ROAS, or Enhanced CPC are good automated bidding strategies to use with DSA campaigns. 

Apprehensive advertisers might think this is too much automation to really drive meaningful results from your ad campaigns, but automated bidding combined with DSAs allows Google to make more optimizations than even the largest PPC management team could manage.

Google conducted a case study illustrating the impact of combining DSAs with automated bidding. Trivago, one of the world’s largest hotel search engines, adopted this strategy with conversion-based automated bidding. The results were: 

  • Up to 140% higher CTR on search terms for DSAs vs original ads 
  • Significantly lower CPAs for established markets
  • Significant conversion gains in newer markets 

Of course, if you’re still not sure if combining DSA with automated bidding is the right choice for your business, you can always test it out with a new campaign experiment. Use automated bidding and DSAs to target a small portion of your audience, monitor performance, then see the results for yourself.

The Bottom Line

You can automate all sorts of marketing processes nowadays. But many advertisers agree that creating relevant ad copy is one thing that will always require human insight to optimize. It’s true that advertisers have a keen understanding of what kind of marketing message drives clicks and conversions. DSAs, though, offer a powerful option to combine great ad copy with ultra-relevant headlines tailored to the search queries of individual users.

Create a compelling message for your expanded search ad description and allow Google bots to create the right headlines for your landing pages. Make efforts to maximize the benefits of DSAs for your business to realize the value of automated ad creation for yourself.