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Everything To Know About Dynamic Search Ads

Ready to level up your Adwords results? Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) might be the one crucial tool to add to your arsenal. Here's your guide covering what dynamic search ads are, when to use them, and advanced strategies.

No doubt about it - Google Adwords is phenomenally powerful online advertising platform. 

What makes it so powerful? 

You’re targeting customers who are in the market for your products or services, ready to buy at the exact moment they see your ad. 

That’s why 64.6% of people click on Google ads when looking to buy an item online (Hubspot).

But do you realise there’s a tool within Google Ads that you might not be taking advantage of?

A tool that can make it easier to get in front of more people and grow your return on investment. 

So, what’s the tool?

Dynamic Search Ads. 

As part of your ever-growing arsenal of tools, dynamic search ads are one option on Google Ads you shouldn’t miss. 

Simply because they help fill in the gaps in keyword campaigns for a better ROI.

Plus, they make it fast and easy to create an ad campaign that allows retailers to target ads to many queries.

Whether you’re running your own Google Adwords management, or have an agency on hand, now is the time to learn how dynamic search ads work and when to use them to skyrocket your success. 

Here’s everything you need to know about Dynamic Search Ads to get started. 


What is a Dynamic Search Ad?

Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) are search ads that show based on the content of your site, not keywords. 

They help you get in front of people who are searching for your products and services, with the right information, without you needing to actively manage keywords or ads. 

That’s the key difference between dynamic search ads and traditional text campaigns – you forego keywords and use your website or product feed instead. 

Google matches users’ search queries to the type of product on your site or feed, and shows a dynamically generated ad which is tailored to their search. 

DSAs are hard to distinguish from traditional text ads, as they still show in the relevant search engine results pages on Google. 


However, there are two major differences between text ad campaigns and DSA campaigns.


1. Ad copy headlines

The ad headline for a Dynamic Search Ad is dynamically created by Google.

The search engine pulls information directly from your site or feed to populate the DSA headline and create the relevant landing page.

You just need to write the description lines for the ad. 



2. Bidding

Like a text campaign, DSA campaigns use a cost-per-click (CPC) budget. This means what you pay is determined by the number of times your ad is clicked multiplied by the maximum CPC.

However, unlike regular text campaigns, you do not apply bids to individual keywords – DSA doesn’t use keywords.

Instead, you apply bids to the auto-target level – AKA the list of different pages on your site that you can target. 


How do Dynamic Search Ads work?

Google introduced Dynamic Search Ads in October 2011 to allow advertisers to create targeted ads with ease.

DSA uses Google’s organic web crawling technology to index the website and determine which searches to show ads for. 

Google keeps a fresh index of your inventory and, when a relevant search occurs, it dynamically generates an ad with a headline based on the query, and the text based on your most relevant landing page. 

The ad enters the auction and competes as normal. But Google won’t enter it for any search where you also have an eligible keyword targeted ad. 

So, you don’t need to worry about your ad campaigns competing against each other. Instead, you get better results from broader exposure for more inventory – all without making any changes to your keyword campaigns.


How do I create a dynamic search ad?

Setting up your DSAs in Google Ads is simpler than you might think. 

Go through the process of creating a text campaign as you would with any other Google Ads campaign. 

In the campaign settings, you’ll see a box to tick: “Enable Dynamic Search Ads for this campaign” 

When you get to this stage, follow these actionable steps for setting up your first dynamic search ad.


Step 1. 

Add your website domain. 


Step 2. 

Create ad groups. 


Step 3. 

Within each ad group, go to the “Dynamic Ad Targets” sub-tab. Choose from three options. 

A. Landing pages from your standard ad groups category.

All web pages you’re currently running search ads against, across all of your accounts. Great option if you want to increase traffic on the web pages that you’re already using as landing pages in existing ad groups and campaigns. 

B. Other categories

Landing pages organised by theme. Here, you decide which sets of pages to target, how to group similar pages and the level of granularity. Just note that it can take up to 24 hours for categories to show if your site is completely new to Dynamic Search Ads.

C. URL_Equals

You can target specific URLs. However, it can limit your reach if you want to get incremental traffic.


Step 4. 

Create a dynamic ad for each group. Because the headline and landing page will be dynamically created, all you need to do is add a description line (maximum 80 characters). 

Step 5. 

Finalise ad group settings as normal and hit save. Congrats - you’ve just created a DSA campaign!


Should YOU use Dynamic Search Ads?

Dynamic Search Ads can add huge value to your Adwords campaigns. 

During Google’s pilot testing phase

Most advertisers saw 5-10% more clicks and conversions with less effort. (Think With Google)

But that doesn’t mean DSAs are right for every brand.

Start by weighing up the pros and cons. 



There are a lot of pros to using DSAs.


You can catch additional keywords you hadn’t thought of targeting. 

DSAs allow advertisers to quickly close the gap in keyword coverage and product inventory.

The tool can crawl your website or crawl a page feed that lists ALL products. Not only will it help you close the gap in coverage, but DSAs can also show on keywords that would typically be flagged in Google Ads as having “Low Search Volume” which cannot show.


Perfect for sites with hundreds or thousands of products.

Got too many products to build out individual campaigns or ad groups to target all possibly variations? DSAs are the ideal solution.  

That’s what North American e-tailer Grainger did. With more than one million products, the company implemented Dynamic Search Ads to generate relevant ads based on the company's vast and dynamic product catalogue, alongside remarketing lists for search ads to re-engage customers. 

Because the brand’s website was crawled regularly, ads always reflected their current products and inventory levels. 

The results were astounding:

  • Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) increased nearly 1,000% compared with non-brand search ads

  • Conversions up nearly 1,000% compared with non-brand search ads

  • Click-through rate (CTR) up nearly 1,000% compared with non-brand search ads


DSAs are great for covering more abstract search queries.

Sometimes there are search queries that are more abstract, or you might not have considered them. This is where DSAs are really effective. 

Google crawls your site and will dynamically create ads based on how the search query matches the site’s website content. 

In other words, the advertiser creates a generic ad and Google dynamically generates a headline and appropriate landing page to match. 


Ad creation is much easier.

The headline and landing page is dynamically generated based on the actual product that is matched to the query in the system. 

The hard part is done – all you need to do is create a description line. 


Fast and easy to set up campaigns. 

Dynamic Search Ads make it quick and easy to set up campaigns as there’s no need to worry about keywords. 

You can be running ads on a whole tonne of product categories within a day. 

Pro Tip: Another Google Ads tool which is great for saving time is Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI), which allows you to plug in a bit of code into your ads to automatically insert whichever keyword matches the user’s search query.




You don’t have full control. 

Unlike normal text ads, you don’t have full control over which type of queries (and keywords) your ads are served to.

This means the responsibility is on you to make sure your structure is sound and you have accounted for appropriate negatives wherever possible.

Look at the search term reports from your text ad campaigns, and closely monitor your search reports closely over the duration of your DSA campaigns. 


Headlines might not match the ad.

Dynamic headlines are a boon for some advertisers, but others prefer to have 100% control over their ad copy and messages. 

If that’s you, DSA may not be right for you. But you can look at search reports to see which headline is being shown and which landing page it drives to. 


Low-performing search queries waste budget. 

Another risk of DSAs is which products receive the majority of your traffic.

Just like normal search ads, a few queries can take up the majority of traffic and eat into your budget before the best, high-converting products are searched. 

There are ways around this, which we’ll cover in the advanced tactics next…



Advanced strategies for Dynamic Search Ads

Want to get the best from your DSA campaigns? Try these proven advanced strategies. 


1. Use DSA strictly for remarketing

Only show ads to users who have been to your site before or taken another action on your site (such as reading a blog or putting items in their cart). 

Yes, this will limit your overall reach, but it means Google can target users who are familiar with your brand and are actively searching for similar products.

The results?

Higher conversion rates and a stellar ROAS. 


2. Use DSA to win more customers

Use the DSA campaign as a normal campaign, then layer your remarketing audiences within the campaign.

Why would you do this?

Because it allows you to bring in new customers while letting Google increase bids for those users who have been to the site and are more likely to convert. 


3. Use negative keywords

Make sure you’re not competing with yourself on the search keywords you might be bidding on. The last thing you want is to cannibalise your search campaigns to the point where none of them win!

Another great thing about using negative keywords is that you can ensure the lower converting products aren’t using up all the budget before the high-converting products get a look in!

Simply check your search term reports to find and exclude any irrelevant keywords. 


4. Bid manually

Let’s talk bidding strategies. 

Okay, we know Google tells you to do automatic bidding for DSA but if you really want more control, manual bidding is the answer.  

Simply go to advanced options under the additional settings of your DSA campaign and get higher control over your campaign spend. 


5. Expand your Dynamic Search Ads

Just like other Search and Display ads, you can now use expanded text ads for your DSA campaign. 

This means longer headlines and description lines. 

Of course, for DSA, you only get control over the description. All you need to do is use the expanded description field to provide compelling and relevant messaging. 


6. Create a solid DSA campaign structure

DSA campaigns use auto-targets, and auto-targets live in ad groups. So, you need to structure your auto-targets so they are in the most specific ad groups possible. 

One way to do this is to create each ad group so it represents a product or product line for a larger category. 

Say you are an ecommerce business selling shoes. You create a DSA campaign for the different sports shoes you sell. You need individual ad groups for auto targets for running shoes, tennis shoes, cycling shoes, climbing shoes, and so on. 

Then, create a tailored description line for each individual ad group. 


7. Highlight your offers 

DSAs save you heaps of time by dynamically generating headlines. Where should you spend this extra time? 

Focus on highlighting more promos and offers.

So, as the user is drawn to the dynamically generated headline, you should focus on testing offers and value props in the description line. 

We’re talking about free shipping, super fast delivery, seasonal exclusives, and so on. 

While your headline highlights the product, your description draws the users even closer with added extras that could win you the sale. 


How do I get rid of Dynamic Search Ads?

If you’ve tried Dynamic Search Ads, checked your ad performance and found it’s not for you – don’t panic. 

You can delete or disable the DSA ads you created, and the system will simply revert back to the normal way.


Over to you 

Are dynamic search ads in your Google Ads arsenal? You could be missing out on some pretty amazing benefits.

The best part of DSAs is how they capture the traffic you would never have thought of and fill in the gaps of your other search ad campaigns. 

As with any paid search tactic, you still need to keep an eye on your DSA campaigns. But get it right and you will see your results soar. 

Looking for even more ways to make your digital marketing results skyrocket? Work on your Digital Marketing Game Plan.

Download our guide now to see which digital marketing tactics are bringing in the leads.  

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