What E-Commerce Brands Need to Know About Dynamic Search Ads

Dynamic Search
Dynamic Search

Even with today’s powerful methods for collecting customer data, how often are people really searching for the exact term you’re targeting in your Google PPC campaign?

Google’s Dynamic Search Ads present a better way to do things, allowing brands to structure campaigns based on sections of a website they’d like to promote rather than on specific terms. While the idea of skipping keyword research and the hassle of setting up ad group after ad group has a certain allure, there are some things you need to know about using Dynamic Search Ads before jumping in head first. 

Here’s a look at how the platform works, when it makes sense to use it, and when you might be better off sticking to old-school manual bidding and small ad groups to maximize control—and ROI. 

Let’s dive on in. 

Free Download: How to Set Up Dynamic Search Campaigns

What are Dynamic Search Ads?

Dynamic Search Ads, or DSAs, are a type of Google Ad that allows you to skip past the process of bidding on specific keywords, and instead, focus on the sections of your website you’d like to promote.  

Simply check the “enable dynamic search” box to get started.

Dynamic Search

When someone enters a query related to one of the pages in your campaign, Google will crawl the site and identify pages that seem to match the query. The information that Google pulls will automatically populate the ad with relevant headlines, copy, and the appropriate URL.

Dynamic Search

While setting up DSAs, you’ll be able to target specific pages, Shopping feeds or sections on your site, depending on what you hope to accomplish with your campaign. 

How Does Bidding Work on Dynamic Search Ads?

Okay, this all sounds pretty great, right? At this point, you’re probably wondering how you’ll pay for DSA ads. After all, you’re not targeting specific keywords.  

If you’ve run other types of campaigns on Google Ads, you’re probably pretty familiar with the process. Dynamic Search Ads operate on a cost-per-click bidding model, rather than on impressions or conversions. 

Costs are determined by the number of clicks you’ve received multiplied by the maximum CPC limit you set when you created the campaign. 

When running a text ad, you apply your bids to keywords. Dynamic Search Ads run on an entirely different model, though.

Again, DSA bids are applied on a target level. When you set up a campaign, you’ll indicate whether you’d like Google to promote a landing page, a product page, or a few pages in a product category. 

DSA bids are applied on a target level. When you set up a campaign, you’ll indicate whether you’d like Google to promote a landing page, a product page, or a few pages in a product category Click To Tweet

The process is relatively easy: when you set up a campaign, you’ll check off the categories or pages you’d like to highlight. 

Dynamic Search

As with text ads, you’ll have the option to run automatic bids, letting Google’s machine-learning algorithms do the bulk of the work for you, or you can add a bit more control over spend by adding in bid adjustments. Here’s Google’s breakdown of how that process works:

Dynamic Search

Like Shopping Ads, DSAs Depend on Embracing the Negative

Again, DSAs are designed to crawl your site and give searchers the results that best represent the information they are looking for. 

The problem is that much of the time, Google ends up presenting the pages with the highest SEO ranking, which for a lot of brands is the home page. Of course, you don’t want to send ads to your home page since that makes it hard to track ROI, and that mismatch between searcher intent and landing-page traffic can tank your quality score.

Make sure that as you set up DSA campaigns you exclude your home page, as well as blog content, contact information, or other sites that serve a purely informational function. These pages are great for SEO and brand awareness, but they don’t capture leads or drive conversions—and if they’re ranking pages, they will absolutely eat up your budget.

It’s also important to think about the other campaigns you are running simultaneously. To prevent your DSAs from cannibalizing your other PPC efforts, make sure you exclude all keywords you will be actively bidding on in other campaigns as exact match negatives.

Benefits of Using Dynamic Search Ads

Data Gathering

For e-commerce brands that are newer to the Google Ads landscape, DSAs present a unique opportunity for targeting product groupings before you spend time building your Google Shopping feeds.

By starting with DSAs, you’ll gather insights which can be used to reveal which products are searched for most often, where you’re getting the most conversions, and how much you’ll need to bid in order to win. 

Look at your search terms reports to see where you’re getting the most bang for your ad dollars and where you’re losing money. Those losers? Make sure you exclude them moving forward.

Dynamic Search

Cover More Keyword Ground

DSAs provide a way for advertisers to bridge the gap between keyword coverage and product inventory. The tool works to crawl your website or a feed that lists all of your products, presenting relevant options to searchers using terms that might never occur to you. 

DSAs can also be triggered by keywords that would typically be flagged in Google Ads as having “Low Search Volume.” In other words, the terms that Google discourages you from applying to your ad groups can lead to a little boost in visibility. 

Google Takes Care of the Copy

It’s not just keywords that set DSA campaigns apart from their text-based counterparts. Ad headlines, too, follow a different model. The ad headline displayed from a DSA is created by Google. Advertisers do still need to write a description line for each ad, but Google takes it from there. 

Why E-commerce Stores Need to Approach DSA with Caution

We’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: Google’s various AI-powered campaigns look pretty awesome on the surface. If you look through the search giant’s support documentation, you’d think that these set-it-and-forget-it campaigns are a no-brainer for novice PPC marketers. 

And in some cases they are. However, Google depends on those ad dollars to keep being one of the biggest companies in the world, so it’s naive to believe that they have your best interests in mind.

We often see that low-converting terms take up a good percentage of an advertiser’s budget. As is the case with certain Shopping Ads or text ads that have applied broad match settings, a poorly planned DSA campaign can eat up your ad dollars before anyone sees your high-converting products. 

The matching algorithm tends to perform better when there’s more historical data backing it up. If you’re working with a smaller data set, Google will optimize based solely on your limited data set and other users’ performance.

Wrapping Up

Key PPC has long been a proponent of maintaining control over ad spend by using manual bidding and tightly focused ad groups. But as we’ve seen over the course of the last few months, the PPC game is changing. AI-bidding methods do come with some risks, but they have advantages, too.  

DSAs, for instance, are a great way to gather data about who is searching for what—information that can inform everything from your SEO efforts and social media campaigns to manual bidding, Shopping ads, and more.

Whether you need help keeping pace with Google’s latest changes, or it’s time to call in an expert to manage your campaigns, Key PPC can help you turn paid ads into more sales. Get in touch and we’ll show you what we can do.

How to Set Up Dynamic Search Campaigns–Subscribe here for the quick and easy walkthrough