By Helena Clark

Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs) are now out of beta and available to all advertisers! Find out how you can utilise this type of campaign in your AdWords account.

Back to blog home

What They Are

DSAs operate by Google matching searches with ads and content on your website, not keywords. Ad copy and landing pages are dynamically generated to match up to the user's query. This means product specific searches are served with relevant ads and relevant landing pages for that search. This sounds ideal; all your products are covered with a highly relevant journey for the user!

The main points are:

  • No more keywords – Google does this bit for you.
  • The headline is dynamically generated. The two description lines remain static so need to be relevant to all the products you're covering.

A sample ad is shown below:

dynamic search ad

How They're Structured

These campaigns are initially set up with one ad group, targeting all web pages. You can then set one maximum bid to cover this dynamic ad target.

Google will also recommend additionally adding ten dynamic search ad categories. The suggested categories are themes that Google identifies based on the content of your website. The Dynamic Search Ads system uses Google's organic search index to choose these themes for your website. At this level you won't know for sure which products fall under a specific category in Google's eyes, but you can drill down to search query report level to see which keywords are being triggered in each category if you set your campaigns up the right way.

How To Set Them Up

Create a new campaign as normal. There is an option to select a Dynamic Search Ads campaign from the list on the right hand side.

Creating a Dynamic Search Ads campaign

Further to this, under ad extensions the Dynamic Search Ads box will be automatically ticked to use your website content to target your ads. It is worth pointing out here this isn't actually an ad extension. The option for Dynamic Search Ads does appear under the ad extensions tab but the data will always show as zero, as shown below. However, if this box is left unticked you lose the ability to split your campaign into categories.

Dynamic Search Ad extensions

When creating new ads select 'Dynamic search ad' at the top of the page. These ads appear on Google as normal text ads. The headline will be dynamically generated depending on the product. You can then create two static description lines that need to be relevant to all your products. The destination URLs are also dynamically generated but you can add tracking URLs to the end of these.

Writing DSA ads

Creating Categories

If you go into the dynamic search ads drop down under the auto targets tab, select “create new dynamic ad target”. Here you will find a drop down of the categories that have been identified on your website. You are also able to create your own categories, however these may prevent the system targeting sections of your website properly (we'll post a follow-up blog soon where you can find out more about creating categories and further targeting options).

Dynamic Search Ad categories

Once you have added the categories to your ad group you are able to add a specific bid. It is recommended that these are higher than the "all web pages" target to ensure traffic is flowing into the correct areas.

DSA category bids

The Pros:

  • Obviously the biggest perk is all products having coverage from short tail and long tail searches served with specific ads and landing pages. This is great for businesses with large ranges & fast turnover in stock.
  • Very specific long tail search queries are picked up automatically. These are the queries to keep an eye on as they will likely have higher conversion rates.
  • Headlines over 25 characters long. You can’t ever complain about taking up more space in search results. We’ve seen titles with up to 39 characters in length so far!
  • Dynamic destination URLs, no more issues when URLs on a site get updated. You can also easily add your own tracking query to the end of the destination URL.

The Cons:

  • A lot of the searches triggering your ads will be very generic. Google won’t always be the best judge of what is relevant for you. From our experience this is the case for all clients, the majority of traffic always comes from the most generic terms. Most of which you would never dream of including in your normal search campaign. As a solution these keywords can be added as negatives in the same way as you would in product listing ad campaigns. This is something that needs to be done constantly as it is easy to lose control on generic searches.
  • Using only a few bids to cover all your products could cause problems for a few reasons. You risk bidding too much on your low margin products and too little on your high value products. You also then have no control over your ad position on top performing keywords.

Our Concluding Thoughts

Although this feature gives full coverage of a site efficiently, you are losing the fine tuning abilities that ad group and keyword level bids give you in order to maximize ROI.

Without constant monitoring it is really easy to lose control on what searches you are appearing on and how much you are paying for them. I would recommend using this feature to complement your search campaigns but not to run them as your only search activity. You should use this type of campaign to provide you with insights for areas that work well that you might not have picked up on yet and then add these areas into your standard search campaigns to gain further control of them.

What's clear is that this is an exciting type of campaign that needs a keen and proactive account manager in order for it to work well. If left to run without in depth optimization you will quickly find that spend can grow without any increase in conversions.

Look out for a follow-up blog from me next week where I'll be giving tips on structure and optimisation for DSA campaigns as well as some more insights into our findings to date.


Read the follow-up blog here to find out how to take control of Dynamic Search Ad campaigns. Then, read Lucinda's article about best practice for DSA campaigns.

Share this article