Dynamic Search Ads
WHAT ARE THEY? WHEN TO USE THEM?
Last week Google officially announced the beta of Dynamic Search Ads, a feature they have been testing with select advertisers for a little while now. As Google continuously innovates as it pertains to paid search, it’s important to stay on top of and understand the new ad formats that they roll out.
Depending on who you ask, this could either be the greatest innovation Google has offered into AdWords, or it’s just a sloppy way to build a paid search campaign. But here is what it is. Effectively, a dynamic search ad is a keyword-less paid search campaign. Through Dynamic Search Ads, you specify a website, category, specific URLs or page content that you would like to target ads for. Based on your target method for ad creation, Google will then automatically determine what keywords to show your ads on, dynamically create your ads, and determine which landing page to send traffic to. So, you don’t need an SEM manager anymore, right? Not quite.
While very compelling, and I love the automation component, utilizing this feature or the similar AdWords Express option that is available for smaller advertisers should be done so with caution. Dynamic, keyword less ads can serve a purpose, but probably should be reserved as a secondary method for managing paid search campaigns (dynamic ads, per Google will never serve over a keyword targeted ad in the same account). Some hypothetical instances where this feature may be useful would be the following:
Small Advertisers: This is the perfect local or small business solution, right? Small advertisers often have neither the time nor expertise to properly setup and manage a PPC campaign. This however assumes relevant content, structure, and calls to action on the destination website, which we know is often not the case for large advertisers, let alone the small local advertiser who may struggle to even get a website up in the first place.
Inventory Management: Retailers with many SKUs or product listings that change frequently could find this feature useful as a way to maintain product inventory in synch with paid search campaigns. It is inherently faster to update inventory in your paid search ads via a feed or a crawl than to have a search manager manually research inventory levels and pause/un-pause keywords/ads whose inventory levels are either in or out of stock. However, this is a feature advertisers who rely on inventory management often already utilize, either through an in house developed solution, or through a 3rd party platform that supports inventory management.
Keyword Research: Don’t have time to investigate every keyword that may possibly be relevant for your PPC campaign? Then dynamic ads would be a good way to do keyword expansion and discovery. However, you already have the same option to do this in keyword campaigns. It’s called broad match. You should be employing broad match already as a discovery method for finding new keywords to bid on in a more restrictive match type.
As with any new AdWords feature, it’s important to test as results will vary on an individual case basis from one advertiser to another. But do mistake dynamic search ads as an alternative to a well thought out and articulated paid search campaign with thematic keyword groupings, and relevant keywords pertaining to your business. There are a lot of things you can automate with paid search to achieve better results, but I would argue against giving complete control to a publisher to determine what is relevant to your business and what is not. This is not to say you should not try Dynamic Search Ads, rather, it is to say that if you to try them, they should be in addition to, not in place of, a carefully articulated keyword rich PPC campaign.