by Bal


Internet Marketing

AdWords Dynamic Search Ads (DSA): Yay or Nay?

If you are new to the concept of Dynamic Search Ads in AdWords – welcome! If not, I know what you may be thinking, you have tried this in the past and it has not worked too well so you have shelved it forever? Either way, please hear me out as a lot has changed since DSA was first introduced back in 2011.

What are Dynamic Search Ads?

Dynamic Search Ad campaigns require no keywords, they match user search queries with contents from your website showing a dynamically created ad. You are required to dictate a description line but the headline and landing page are dynamically generated to match the user’s search query.

Why use DSA?

Dynamic Search Ads can help expand your current search reach by filling in the blanks where perhaps there are products on the website for which there are no keywords in AdWords. Even if you think you have your search account spot on, DSA is worth an add as when we created a DSA campaign for a client whereby we have a keyword for every single product type listed on their website, we found DSA showing for synonyms the client and us had not previously encountered before. In addition, we have had numerous cases where we had search queries which have, for example, 1 click from 1 impression resulting in a conversion.

When not to use DSA?

As per Google guidelines, DSA is not recommended if the contents of your website changes rapidly e.g. daily deals websites unless you use a feed based system which we will discuss below.

How do I create Dynamic Search Ads?

The key difference from traditional search campaigns is that, firstly, you need to decide how to target your DSA campaign. You can either base your campaign on Google’s index of your website or upload a feed into AdWords to specify exactly which URLs to use.

If using Google’s index, there are three key targeting options:

  1. All pages – target all web pages that have been crawled by Google
  2. Categories – Google group similarly themed pages into a list of categories that you can then target
  3. Specific pages – This is split into four methods. Firstly ‘Categories’ as discussed above. ‘Page content’ which will allow you to target pages that contain certain words. ‘Page title’ allows the ability to target page titles matching your desired words. Finally, with ‘URL targeting’ you can target URLs with certain strings. URL is particularly useful when your site uses a subdomain e.g. Please note you can use a combination of up to three options to create custom targeting criteria.

Please see step-by-step instructions to set-up a DSA campaign here if using Google’s index.

Alternatively, you could upload a page feed into AdWords to specify exactly which URLs to use for your DSA campaign for added control.

Tried & Tested – Results

For one of our large eCommerce clients, DSA now counts for 4% of all conversions monthly at a CPA which is well within the target set. This translates to over £5,000 extra revenue every month for this client.

Tips for DSA Success:

  • Review negative keywords regularly to ensure Google is only matching to areas you would like to show ads for.
  • A important tip is to exclude products which are out of stock. This can be done by adding a page content exclusion for pages that contain “out of stock”. For more information on adding exclusions please see here.

Key Takeaway

Now I am not saying to ditch all your keywords and replace current campaigns with Dynamic Search Ads as I think it is best to initially see DSA as a campaign which helps fill in the gaps in your keywords-based campaigns. Longer term, if you feel you are getting better results from DSA activity you can look to increase the focus away from keyword focused campaigns if you wish.

In conclusion, DSA is something we have found a lot of success with and deem it a worthy addition to your AdWords account. If you have any questions about DSA, please feel free to get in touch as we are happy to help.


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