Google’s Dynamic Search Ads Beta: A Step Into The Future

By: Katherine Wrobleski, Associate Account Manager

Every day, 16% of Google queries have never been searched before. How is a media manager to keep up? Worry not-Google’s dynamic search ad beta alleviates this constant struggle with keywordless paid search ads generated directly from a marketer’s website. The program is designed to compliment an existing account’s structure, serving on long-tail, specific queries that are not picked up by a keyword set. Google reports that advertisers see a 5-10% increase in clicks and conversions on average with the beta, and the setup is fairly painless.

Is DSA Right For Your Account?

Benefits of DSA coverage

  • Robust – DSA provides incremental keyword coverage. The long-tail coverage may generate conversions at lower CPCs than core keywords.
  • Efficient – DSA set-up is quick and easy to maintain after tracking is set up within Adwords.
  • Dynamic – Ads closely relate to search queries without complex media management.

Considerations before setting up DSA

  • Landing page coverage should align with account’s KPIs (unless DSA is being used as a branding initiative).
  • A good negative build is imperative for blocking irrelevant queries.
  • DSA headlines are highly relevant to a user’s query but do not always align with brand guidelines. If a client has specific requirements for ad copy, DSA is probably not the best option.

Let’s Get It Started

When setting up DSA for a marketer’s account, the following options should be considered:

  • By category: Google will look for themes on the website and show ads for the top ten themes
  • By URL: Google targets a section of the website based on URL string
  • By page title: Google targets specific page titles on the website
  • By page content: Google targets text from a webpage (this is the riskiest option and generally not recommended)

You can also set exclusions on the Auto Targets tab to block non-converting subdomains (ie: the Contact Us page).

After targeting is set, it is time to work on ads. While the headline and destination URL are dynamic, the description text is static. Break up targets into different ad groups and write ads to fit the theme of each group. The default destination URL is {unescapedlpurl}, but if using a third party tracking system (like IgnitionOne), this template enables marketers to incorporate it. And always remember to add sitelinks, target only one language per campaign and apply a basic negative set.

How Do You Optimize A Keywordless Ad?

Search marketing veterans may cringe at the thought of ad group level bidding, but most clients are seeing DSA performance exceed the performance of pre-existing non-brand assets in their accounts. The daily budget for a DSA campaign should be set at around ten percent of a marketer’s  total account budget. Category level and Search Terms reports are available on the Auto Targets and Dimensions tabs respectively, and marketers should mine continuously for possible exclusions and negative keywords.

DSA Case Study

Some marketers may still be skeptical. I was too, until I set up a DSA campaign for an IgnitionOne hotel client in April of this year.  We capped the budget at 10% of the account’s total daily spend and set up five ad groups, targeting five different sections of the website, with bids set to target positions two through three. Since the DSA campaign’s inception, we have mined the Search Terms report and altered bids to optimize performance every few weeks. I also tirelessly searched long-tail keywords at random until I got a good sampling of the ads live in the SERP. You have probably heard the same horror stories I have of early DSA ads stringing together inappropriate headlines, but I am happy to report I only found one wonky DSA ad, and it was not too offensive.

After three months of optimizations, we reevaluated the beta’s performance for our hotel client. In July 2013, the direct response DSA ad group drove only 38% less conversions than all non-brand assets in the account combined, with less than 11% of the non-brand spend. The cost per conversion in the DSA group was 80% lower than the cost per conversion for the non-brand assets, and the average CPCs were 34% lower in the DSA group.

This Beta’s Bottom Line

In short, DSA provides incremental coverage for this client that consistently outperforms the existing non-brand assets in the account, in terms of conversion rate, spend, cost per conversion and average CPCs. While it may not be a perfect fit for every client, if you are looking to grow a mature paid search account, Google’s DSA may be the beta you have been waiting for.

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