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Advanced Dynamic Search Ads Tactics for Ecommerce Accounts

White Shark Media

10 years ago



Dynamic Search Ads have caused quite a stir in the PPC field over the past couple of years. It’s been everyone’s talking point, from Elizabeth Marsten saying it’s not worth it to me giving out warnings about how Dynamic Search Ads can take over your account.

Today, approximately a year after writing my original post on Dynamic Search Ads, I have a new point of view. My original post at Search Engine Journal still applies, but in the last year I have found ways to be very successful with Dynamic Search Ads.

I recently delivered a presentation at the biggest Danish online marketing conference ( about how to get the most out of the newest AdWords features. Even though DSA have been around for a long time, it was not until last year that you were able to add a remarketing audience to the campaign – making it much more interesting.

Today I will share parts of my presentation from the conference that will change your mind about Dynamic Search Ads.

What is Dynamic Search Ads (DSA)?

DSA is a campaign format in Google AdWords that dynamically matches searches in Google with content on your website:

  • There are no keywords
  • Your ads are dynamically created with specific headlines and landing pages
  • You can target and exclude parts of your website as you see fit
  • Your existing keywords are taken into account to avoid duplicated ads or skewed data

Furthermore, with almost no work on your behalf prior to setting up the campaigns, it’s super easy to set up.

Why You Need To Use Dynamic Search Ads

One of the biggest reasons why you need to use Dynamic Search Ads is that 16-18% of all searches that take place daily are unique (the number varies based on who you ask).

This is an extraordinary amount of searches that you normally wouldn’t be shown for unless you use broad match or get lucky with your Broad Match Modifier keywords. However, even if you were to get your Broad Match ad shown for these searches, your title and landing page wouldn’t be specific enough. Yes, it would be better than nothing, but when you have a good alternative in Dynamic Search Ads, there is no reason why you should leave it up to Broad Match keywords.

With DSA you will receive an ad headline and landing page that matches what the searcher was looking for. This will increase your likelihood of converting the user and driving bigger profits.

But it’s not just the new searches that you want to ensure you’re getting optimal visibility for, long tail searches are equally important.

Why DSA is Perfect for Medium and Big Ecommerce Stores [Case]

Most Ecommerce stores have core products that they sell more than others. This is further emphasized with PPC because some products are more searched for than others.

As a result, many Ecommerce stores have a lot of products that only receive 1-5 sales per month and are generally not worth to add manually as keywords in your campaign. The time you will have to spend managing all these smaller ad groups, is not worth the added revenue.

We were having this exact challenge with one of my existing clients who sells toys online. We had covered:

  • Brand names
  • Category keywords
  • Major products

We had reached $150,000-$200,000 in monthly revenue from AdWords when we started achieving a plateau after consistent growth.

My client had literally thousands of smaller products that didn’t get many sales each month, but combined it would amount to a hefty revenue. However, when I calculated my hourly rate for setting up all these minor campaigns, it wouldn’t make sense financially. Either I would have to lower my rate or the client would pay too much for the added revenue.

We then decided to use Dynamic Search Ads for two reasons:

  1. We would be able to cover all the minor products by just the switch of a button
  1. We would get to see what products actually had a lot of searches and would be worth the time adding to our manual campaigns

Still, we did this with some reservations. They have a massive store and we worried about whether the dynamically generated ads would convert as well as our existing campaigns.

But boy were we wrong…

In the first month we received a ROI of 398%, which was just shy of our goal of 550%. But that wasn’t the biggest win by the new campaigns.

At the end of the month, we could see that the DSA campaign was now the single-highest revenue-driver in our account. The DSA campaign generated 10% of the total revenue in our account, which is no less than extraordinary.

There isn’t a lot I can do in AdWords that, by the switch of a button (almost), generates a new champion campaign as we did in this instance.

The following tips are directly taken from how I manage to launch a successful DSA campaign in this account and several others.

Tricks to Get Success with Dynamic Search Ads

1) Bid Higher for Users Who Have Already Visited Your Website

For DSA I categorize users in two different groups:

  • New users
  • Existing users (on your remarketing list)

With DSA you have the option to add a remarketing audience to your campaign and bid differently for users who have already visited your site. This is highly effective.

DSA campaigns can have a tendency to be a tad broad. You might see that DSA will show you for keywords you wouldn’t normally use. However, if you mix a broad keyword with a remarketing cookie, you can make up for the broader keyword.

I recommend that you start your DSA campaign with a relatively low bid (25% lower than your avg. CPC) and then add a 150% bid adjustment to your remarketing audience.

The Case for Using Remarketing Lists for DSA

I’ve been running these types of campaigns for a while now and the success rate has always been good. Another client of mine experienced the following ROI numbers after 3 months of optimizing his DSA campaign:

  • 706% ROI from his general DSA campaign
  • 2,108% ROI from his remarketing audience in DSA

I don’t know about you, but not many of my Ecommerce campaigns can brag of a 2,108% ROI while producing a significant amount of the revenue in the account.

If you’re worried about starting DSA due to low ROI, I recommend you start a DSA campaign where you add your Remarketing audience as Target & Bid. This means you will only target the people in your remarketing list.

2) Add Your Existing Keywords in Negative Exact Match

Even though Google officially explains that they don’t show keywords that are already in your account, I don’t like to trust such tasks to Google.

The first reason is because you might pause a keyword later on, which will then start to show up in your DSA campaign. This might not be a big deal with one keyword, but if you do it with several keywords it tends to run up. Also, it’s double the work.

The second reason is that you risk having your DSA ads show up for keywords that you already have written ads for. This usually causes a lower conversion rate and therefore a higher CPA.

You don’t want your dynamically created DSA ad to show up instead of your hand-written, optimized ad.

Furthermore, if you have different bidding for your DSA and regular campaigns (which you most likely have) you will also risk using the wrong bidding. A keyword you had deemed a worth of $0.2 per click, can all of a sudden cost $0.8 when it’s shown in your Dynamic Search Ads campaign.

3) Review Search Terms at Least Once a Week

Seeing that you don’t decide what searches your ads are showing up for, it’s important that you review your See Search Terms report at least once a week.

You will experience a lot of irrelevant searches (think of Broad Match) that you need to make sure you’re not showing up for in a long-term.

If you have a smaller store where Google might have challenges matching your website pages with searches, you will also experience very generic searches.

I’ve seen gadget shops be shown for the keywords iPhone 5 or Gadgets.

I recommend that you aggressively exclude keywords in order to avoid a low ROI from Dynamic Search Ads.

4) Create New Ad Groups Based on Your Search Terms

I often see this issue. An advertiser started a Dynamic Search Ads campaign and after a while the DSA campaign accounts for +50% of the overall revenue derived from AdWords.

Let me say it straight: Dynamic Search Ads are not intended to be the primary revenue-driver in your account. If your DSA campaign is accounting for more than 25% of your revenue, you need to take the following steps.

Move profitable keywords, that have a certain amount of clicks, from your DSA campaign into their own campaign/ad group.

Adding the keywords in their own ad group / campaign will allow you to:

  • Assign the optimal bid (+ mobile bid adjustment)
  • Optimize your ad
  • Add other keyword variations and match types

These steps will allow you to get even more out of the searches that you’ve had success with in your DSA campaign. With these steps, you’re turning your DSA campaign into a way to expand your existing campaigns through additional keyword research.

5) Exclude Informational Sections on Your Website

Last but not least, it’s important that you exclude the informational sections on your website.

Google doesn’t differentiate between what pages on your website are informational and which ones are product pages. You don’t want to pay for clicks to pages that don’t serve a purpose or that you can’t profit from.

Most Ecommerce stores have a page mentioning their return policy or their shipping information. I’ve seen these pages generate several clicks for keywords like free shopping or XYZ product return policy.

It’s not because these searches are completely irrelevant, but I doubt you want to pay for visitors to these pages.

Dynamic Search Ads Are More Helpful For These

The businesses that tend to get the most out of Dynamic Search Ads are medium to big Ecommerce stores that sell a lot of products.

If you’re running a minor Ecommerce store with less than 200 products, the effects of DSA will be very small. I have had slight success launching a DSA campaign for clients in this range, but because I typically can cover all products right off the bat we get less out of Dynamic Search Ads.

At the same time, if you’re a service business you shouldn’t run Dynamic Search Ads. You will most likely need to exclude a lot of pages and add a tremendous amount of negative keywords. All this work could then better be used by creating manual campaigns instead.

All in all, I’m more positive about Dynamic Search Ads today than I was a year ago. I recommend that you at least try it out with the remarketing audience.