Ever wondered how to scale paid search campaigns in Google Ads without building tens of new campaigns or adding hundreds of new keywords? This guide will walk you through one of the most underrated features of Google Ads, Dynamic Search Ads.

For many ecommerce advertisers, having complete paid search keyword coverage for all of their individual products may seem out of reach. Even those who initially build out full keyword coverage for all of their products are usually struggling with campaign maintenance because of the nature of ecommerce product inventory. New products can come in, other products can run out of stock, so how do you make sure that you have the most accurate keyword coverage and that you’re not wasting your ad dollars for products that are out of stock?

Luckily, Google Dynamic Search Ads can provide an alternative to setting up thousands of ad groups and text ads. Even when you think you have comprehensive coverage, Dynamic Search Ads campaigns can be a back-up catch-all as well as a source for potential growth.

What are Google Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) campaigns?

DSA campaigns are different from traditional keyword-based campaigns because they don’t use keywords for targeting. Instead, they trigger text ads based on the searcher’s search query and content of your website.

Not only do you not need to manually create all your keywords, but DSA campaigns will also pick the most relevant landing page, which it will use to generate your ad headline and display URL. The content on your website becomes the main component that is being fed into Google’s algorithm.

If you have a lot of product pages (DSA can work well with services and lead generation forms too!), you’ll usually see the most scale compared to standard text keyword campaigns. This generally stems from the fact that it’s practically impossible to ensure full keyword coverage for every possible search. As such, DSA campaigns can help capture even the most unique and specific searches as long as that information lives on the website – for example, when customers search for a product SKU number or some very specific product specification (think color, weight, size, price etc.)

Now is when you ask, “but can’t we achieve this already with broad match keywords?” and the answer is no, not really. One of the major benefits of Dynamic Search Ads campaigns is its ability to pick the most relevant landing pages. Often, the same broad match keyword can match with multiple search queries and still land the user on the same landing page. DSA will often drive traffic to a very specific page, especially if the campaign is strategically built that way.

broad match keywords

Broad match keyword “luxury toys” is matching to multiple different search queries, however, the landing page and most likely the ad copy in this instance will always be the same

What are the benefits of DSA campaigns?

  • Research: This is one of the largest benefits of Dynamic Search Ads. Did you know that each day, 15% of searches that occur on Google have never been searched before? Reviewing the search query report can give much more insight into how searchers are looking for your products than the keyword planner. Also, DSA’s, in most cases, will not compete with your existing set of exact match keywords so you should not be overly worried about keyword cannibalization.
  • Longer & Specific Headlines: Ever wonder how your competitor has such a long headline in their paid ad? Chances are it’s probably from a DSA campaign. We have seen headlines in DSA campaigns of 40+ characters. This allows you much more visibility on the search engine results page since your competition will have Expanded Text Ad limitations.
  • Lower CPCs: In most cases, we see lower CPC’s in DSA campaigns when compared to other Nonbrand keyword-based campaigns. This allows you to gain more insights and traffic to your site more efficiently. Yes, the lower CPCs are often driven by lower bids, and having lower bids often makes sense for DSA campaigns.
  • Coverage on all products: For seasonal advertisers with varying products, this is a major advantage. As soon as the Google bot crawls your site and indexes your new products, you will be eligible to show text ads dynamically. Also, once products are removed from your site, the text ads will not show. This lessens the chance of wasted spend on sending traffic to products you might not currently carry. It also reduces the amount of time spent on keyword research and ad group creation.
  • Quick campaign set up: Instead of setting up specific ads and keywords, you set up a limited number of auto targets to start. The ad headline is dynamic and should be fairly related to the matched search queries.

Cons of Dynamic Search Ads

  • Less Control: Since you are targeting based on website content, there is less control than targeting based on keywords. It is up to the Google algorithm to match search queries and what to show ads for. This can cause irrelevant searches to come through.
  • Requires Up-front Maintenance: Because Google is in control, it does require up-front work to mine for irrelevant negatives. Right after launch, we recommend checking in daily for negative keyword exclusions. After the initial optimizations are complete, reviewing matched search queries on a weekly basis should be enough.
  • Generic Ads: Since a wide array of products and pages will be eligible to show for each ad group and therefore ad, we recommend segmenting ad groups by category and using relevant description lines.
  • Poor Dynamic Copy: Because ad text will be solely based on the content from your website, there is always a chance that Google will capture some text that you don’t want to include in your ad. This is why we recommend regularly reviewing the DSA reporting to see what headlines are being used.

DSA Targeting Options

There isn’t just one best way to structure a DSA campaign as Google gives quite a few options when creating and selecting targeting parameters. You can go with just one type of targeting or even use all of them in one campaign. Here are possible options (we will cover the page feed option in more detail):

  • Website categories: This is one of the most popular ways to structure a DSA campaign. Categories are based on your website and Google’s page indexing. They help group your pages into similar themes that you can select to target. There are different levels of category targeting:
    Main category
    You can segment and create ad groups based on all of these category options. The further down the level hierarchy, the more specific the targeting – for example: TVs > 60” Inch LED TVs.
  • Specific Webpages: You can target specific web pages by providing the list of unique URLs. Every URL will become a biddable auto-target for which you can adjust bids (similar to keywords).
  • Page Title: This is targeting based on the page title. If you are unsure of your page title, check the page source and look for a value between <title></title> HTML tag.
  • Page Content: Similar to contextual keyword targeting on the display network, this is targeting based on the words on your webpage.
  • Page Feed: This is the latest addition from Google, which allows targeting specific URLs based on the business data feed in the account. At a high level, it allows targeting groups of URLs based on the provided label in the feed. As you can guess, it opens an amazing opportunity to utilize an existing product feed to expand your coverage to all products and automatically update your DSA targeting based on the product inventory.

How to create a product feed based DSA campaign?

  1. Let’s start by creating a new search campaign. Don’t forget to unselect Display Network as we don’t want to expand our reach that much.dsa campaign creation
  2. Because we are going to use more advanced features, you need to click on “Show more settings” at the bottom to see additional options.
  3. From here, under the Dynamic Search Ads setting, you can pick what targeting you want to use for this campaign. If you already have the product feed ready for the DSA, you can select “Use URLs from my page feed only” or to use both the website and the page feed option. If you don’t have the product feed uploaded yet, it won’t let you pick this option. We will cover this in a minute.dsa campaign targeting
  4. Other campaign level settings are pretty standard and similar to standard search campaigns. What we want to adjust are the ad group settings. You need to select Dynamic Ad group type and provide a page feed label from your uploaded feed. In our case, we have structured our product pages based on the higher margin so we’re going to pick the label “High Margin Products.”ad group targets
  5. The next step will be to create a Dynamic Search ad. Make sure to provide both Description line 1 and Description line 2. We recommend adding at least 2-3 ads with unique description lines for proper optimization.
  6. After you create your adgroup, auto-targets and ads, your campaign will be ready to start serving. It can take up to 24 hours for new DSA auto-targets to go live, so be patient.

How to create a product feed for DSA?

  1. First thing first, download the official page feed csv template from Google. It should look similar to below:google page feed csv
  2. If you have the product catalog (feed) that you’re using in Google Merchant Center, you can use it to pull all product URL’s and use the product type or the Google category attribute to structure your custom labels.
  3. If you’re planning on using multiple custom labels per URL, make sure to separate them with a semicolon “ ; “
  4. After you finished structuring your page feed, it should look something like the below.page feed structure
  5. With this type of page feed, you will be able to set different bids or smart bidding targets based on product margins (high/low).
  6. Once you’re ready to upload, head to “Tools & Settings” > “ Business Data”, hit the plus sign to add new feed and select “Page feed”.
  7. After the file has been uploaded, you will see your new feed under the Business Data section. We recommend automating this process and scheduling automated uploads once a day to keep your page feed up to date. You can use Google Sheets or FTP/HTTP to provide the updated file to Google.

Potential Campaign Structure

Here at Metric Theory, our ecommerce feed management team is able to structure DSA page feed based on different product catalog variables and automate the upload process to DSA campaigns.This ensures near real-time updates and efficient coverage for all available products.

To illustrate potential DSA strategy, you can refer to the image below:

dsa strategy

DSA product feed campaigns ensure search coverage for each specific product while standard nonbrand campaigns drive traffic to more broad category pages

DSA Campaign Creation Checklist

  • Use negative keywords or keyword lists from other search campaigns
  • Exclude irrelevant pages, such as career page, login/signup page, blog posts and other pages that won’t drive sales
  • Avoid using “All Webpages” auto-target. While it’s the easiest way to set up the campaign, it is the most inefficient way to use DSA
  • Include all ad extensions, the same way you add them for standard search campaigns
  • Review search query reports on a regular basis, especially in the first few weeks after the campaign launch. Exclude irrelevant searches and check which landing pages DSA campaign is triggering.
  • If possible, use Google’s smart bidding. tROAS or tCPA can do really well with DSA campaigns
  • It can take 24 hours+ for the new DSA campaign to start serving ads, so be patient!
  • Be smart about it! When structuring the DSA campaign, think about its main goal and purpose in your account strategy. In our case, we are using DSA to capture very specific searches and drive traffic to product pages. In other cases, DSA can be used instead of a broad match as a keyword mining tool.

Contact our team if you’re interested in learning more about how to leverage DSAs to strengthen your paid search strategy.