Everything You Need to Know About Dynamic Search Ads

January 17, 2020

Brett Fischer

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The rise of dynamic search ads in 2020

Dynamic Search Ad History

Despite their inception over a decade ago, Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs) have been one of the most underutilized paid search campaign types across clients and verticals. Why? Until a year ago, DSA technology was, to put it simply, not up to par. DSAs failed to be a reliable method of choice for agencies and clients alike. However, in the year since their revitalization, DSA campaigns are now a more widely accepted option for digital advertisers.

What is a Dynamic Search Ad Anyway?

DSAs use Google’s organic web crawling technology to match website content to a user’s search query rather than using traditional keyword targeting – all while generating a dynamic ad headline based on the webpage’s H1.

Seasoned paid search account managers are naturally skeptical of Google’s automated features due to perceived loss of control. However, DSAs have come a long way, and with the other targeting options in Google Ads, there are many safety nets at a marketer’s disposal to maintain control over a DSA campaign, all while delivering better performance for clients.

So Why Should Marketers Use Them?

Although long-tail keywords are incredibly valuable, they have historically been very difficult to capture via paid search. Long-tail queries are those searches that are highly relevant (read: very specific) but have low search volume (as in could be searched 1–2 times per month). This type of query is most common when users are searching for a very specific product or service – think product or SKU number searches, or natural language-type searches that may happen by using vocal inputs. For example:

  • “Dyson vacuum replacement hose 845790525”
  • “OK Google, show me the closest place to get my oil changed”

Terms as specific as this typically indicate that someone knows exactly what they want and are therefore closer to the point of purchase. But it’s nearly impossible to capture long-tail keywords in traditional search campaigns because the search volume is so low. Oftentimes, trying to target low volume search queries with keyword targeting can result in Google choosing not to show ads at all for that query, which is the opposite of what we want to happen – especially when the keywords in question have such high conversion potential.

There are two other key pieces to the DSA puzzle that make it even more exciting:

  1. Google claims that nearly 70% of all searches happen in the “long tail”. So while the search volume for individual keywords is low, the number of potential long-tail keywords that could be captured is enormous.
  2. Nearly 15% of searches on Google are unique and have never been seen before. Consumers are constantly finding new ways to search for products and services. And as search continues to evolve, this trend shows no sign of slowing. This means that relying on traditional keyword targeting to find new and emerging search queries is futile – it’s too slow, and once a new term is identified things may already have changed.

Approached the right way, DSAs can solve both of these issues. And this means marketers can finally (and sustainably) capture untapped search volume that was previously unattainable.

Dynamic Search Ad Successes

In short, the goal of DSAs is incrementality. Using DSAs to supplement keyword targeting will help capture incremental conversions or revenue that wouldn’t otherwise have been available under traditional keyword targeting. This is the primary goal for proving success.

Google has historically championed DSAs as an eCommerce powerhouse because they allow marketers to target hundreds of thousands of product pages and drive users directly to those pages, improving conversion rate. For this reason, marketers limited DSAs to eCommerce clients only. But with the ever-shifting search landscape and continual advancement of features within Google Ads, new opportunities have appeared for advertisers across verticals. For example, NH recently piloted a DSA campaign for a home improvement client focused on lead volume growth. Shortly after implementation, the query “windows that open outward” triggered one of the client’s ads. This query, which was not covered under traditional keyword targeting, was captured by Google’s web crawling technology to serve an ad for the client’s casement window series. Google’s ability to make the connection between casement windows and “windows that open outward” illustrate how sophisticated Google’s DSA technology now is. It also illustrated just how many searches marketers may be missing out on by not using DSAs. While this particular query on its own was not a significant win in the account, we delivered 611 incremental leads from DSA campaigns for similar long-tail search queries over the course of a single quarter.

Moving Forward

Releasing control to Google’s machines is antithetical to how paid search has historically been managed. But the reality is that Google’s technology has become incredibly advanced in recent years and is significantly better at seeking out relevant searches with its DSA campaign type than ever before. And while DSAs have taken over some traditional paid search operation with automation, the need for careful account management still remains. As does the need for a holistic search strategy – by testing DSAs alongside your traditional brand / nonbrand paid search campaigns, marketers can start to understand the intricacies of their search landscape and capture incremental conversions.  

Automation only detects a change in metrics, so humans who understand the business are still needed to provide oversight. With the right approach and oversight, DSAs can add a new level of depth to your search program and open up new streams of lead volume or revenue.

Photo Source: Unsplash

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