By Helena Clark

As a follow up to my last blog on Dynamic Search Ads here is an in depth summary of ways to analyse, optimise and expand your Dynamic Search Ad (DSA) campaigns.

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Clever Bidding

By using the category segmentation at ad group level in the auto targets tab you can increase and reduce bids dependent on how they are performing and how much they are worth to you. You can see an example below:

Dynamic Search Ad category segmentation

Search Query Exclusions

As mentioned previously, a lot of searches that trigger dynamic ads are far too generic to bring any return. This is where the volume and spend will come from but from experience conversion rates are low. We recommend that you exclude irrelevant search queries from your campaigns on a regular basis.

There are two places to find search query reports. First, under the keywords tab. This is just like running a normal search query report. You can only view at ad group level here, so can't see the category that generated that query.

The second option is the search term report under the auto targets tab, which is much more useful. Here you are able to select queries from individual categories or view all. As well as the main metric columns you see in a normal search query report you also have columns for ad headline, category, landing page title and destination URL.

Search term report for Dynamic Search Ads

More Targeting Options

There are four different options when creating a new dynamic ad target, as shown below. Categories, which were the main focus of my previous blog, URLs, page content and page titles.

Categories - The suggested categories are themes that Google identifies based on the content of your website. The dynamic ad system uses Google's organic search index for your website to choose these categories. You are also able to create your own categories, however doing this may prevent the system from targeting sections of your website properly. Using this option also allows for category level reports. I will go into more detail on these reports below.

URL targeting - Initially we thought this would be the best option as there is greater control on which sections of the site your traffic is landing. However, a problem arises when URL breadcrumbs don't follow the same structure for all products in a range. For example, if you wanted to target all action figures, any web pages with action figure content at category and product level would require this in the URL in order to be triggered.

Title Targeting –This targets any pages where the page title contains a certain phrase. This is most useful for creating specific targets for product ranges.

Content targeting – Allows you to target any page containing a keyword or phrase. So far this is the option we have had the least success with due to it pulling in very irrelevant search queries. Not all content on pages is directly relevant to your specified target.

For individual targets you can add a combination of up to three of these. For example if you were running a sale on a particular group of Barbie dolls, target the category dolls, with any page title containing Barbie and any page containing sale.

DSA targeting

As well as adding these options as targets you are also able to add them as exclusions. The most use I have had from this option so far is to exclude categories that don't deliver; you will be able to identify these from the category reports. Also exclude any URLs of pages that aren't applicable, i.e. jobs and returns pages.

Category Reports

Category level targeting means you can also see category level reports. These reports offer great insight into areas that are performing well or not so well. These reports are the main reason I would recommend using category targeting over the other alternatives, as they can act as a point of expansion whereas the others don't.

View the reports through the 'see category' drop down in the auto targets tab.

See categories

Once in this report you will see a list of categories against their performance. This data can be further refined into top, first and second level sub categories.

Dynamic Search Ad sub-categories

You can then use this data to identify categories that would benefit from the creation of separate Dynamic Search Ad groups. The benefit of doing this is that it will allow you to use different ad copy for themes of products, as the two static lines no longer need to be applicable to all products. You can also use this to add and exclude further categories or sub categories from your ad groups.

You can add category level exclusions for any sub categories that aren't working and to the 'all pages' ad group for any new ad groups created. This should also help with the overlap of the 'all products' target.

In Conclusion

Since utilising these more specific targeting options and in depth optimization methods I have seen significant improvements in ROI. Initially with DSA campaigns the majority of traffic and spend will come from generic keywords. Without active management it can be easy to lose control of spend and CPA.

Dynamic Search Ad campaigns are invaluable as a tool for expanding out normal search campaigns. The primary benefits being that the whole content of a website is covered, and ads can appear for new products within hours of being added to a site. These campaigns give great insight into areas and products that are performing well (and not so well). They also provide broader search query coverage. Search term reports allow you to identify keywords that you thought may not have been relevant and can help you identify new long tail queries too.

Currently a lot of time and attention is required to bring in a low CPA, and this effort may not necessarily result in a performance comparable to that of regular search campaigns. The main disadvantage will always be the lack of control over keyword level bids that with regular search campaigns enables us to focus budget on the best performing keywords and products. Having said that I can see great potential for these campaigns and I'm excited to see any new features rolled out over the next few months.

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