Demystifying Dynamic Search Ads: Set‑Up & Targeting

March 11, 2013

In Part 1 of the Demystifying Dynamic Search Ads series, we discussed the pros & cons of incorportating DSAs into your paid search strategy.  Now that you’ve decided that Dynamic Search is something you would like to put to use, we can discuss the actual campaign set up and creating what Google refers to as auto-targets.  We’ll also cover exclusions and run through a few examples of common ways DSAs are being put to use.

Dynamic Search Campaign Set-Up:

To create a Dynamic Search campaign simply begin by building a new search network campaign as you normally would, but when you reach the “Type” settings, select the Dynamic Search Ads setting to enable targeting based on your website content:

Dynamic Search Ads are targeted based on website content

Continue selecting your campaign settings – device, location, language, and bidding and budgeting options – as you normally would until you reach the Ad extensions portion.  In the Ad extensions section you will select your website.  This tells Google AdWords which of your web properties you would like to use for targeting:

Select your website in the Dynamic Search Ad extensions options

The AdWords system will then prompt you to create your first ad.  Remember, you only specify the first and second description lines, and AdWords will take  care of the rest (that’s the primary benefit of using DSAs after all):

Enter description Lines 1 & 2 to create your Dynamic Search Ad

After you’ve written ad copy and clicked “Save” you’re campaign is set-up and ready to go live. Campaign creation is very simple and straightforward. There is very little difference from a typical campaign set up.

Dynamic Search Auto-Targets & Exclusions

Now that we have a live campaign, we are ready to move on to the good stuff – creating auto-targets.  An auto-target represents a subset of pages on your website.  By default, Google AdWords automatically opts ALL of your website’s indexed pages into serving in your Dynamic Search campaign (remember: only indexed pages are eligible for ad serving).  As a best practice it is suggested that you create tightly-themed auto-targets, as well as exclusions, to build a targeted campaign structure.

To create an auto-target you will select any combination of up to three attributes to define an auto-target.  The attributes include: your website’s category classification, page URL, page title, and page content.  Visit the auto-targets tab within your campaign to select your criteria:

Select your webpage criteria to create an dynamic search auto-target

Google AdWords will attempt to automatically assign your website or pages with a category, but like the other three attributes you can have full control of these values from a web design standpoint within your pages’ HTML.  Google suggests using breadcrumbs to manually control how categories are assigned.

To create a dynamic search exclusion, click “+Exclusions” to expand the section.  You will then build the DSA exclusion in the exact same manner that you would with an auto-target.  Exclusions will represent a group of page that you DO NOT want the AdWords system to serve Dynamic Search Ads for:

See how to create a dynamic search exclusion

Plus, don’t forget about PPC’s lifelong friend, the negative keyword.  We can still use negative keywords just like we would in any other search campaign to block specific queries from serving your DSAs.  This gives you even more control over how your ads are being served!

Common Dynamic Search Ad Uses

To cap off the discussion, let’s briefly go over a few common reasons that you might want to use DSAs in your account.  There is plenty of reason to incorporate DSAs in your paid search strategy, but these are by far among the most popular uses:

  • If you have a very niche product that doesn’t see a lot of interest or traffic
  • If you have products or services that are frequently discounted or put on sale
  • If you have a huge inventory of products
  • If you just want to see what types of searches Google will match your pages to
  • If your pages or products undergo frequent changes that are difficult to keep up with

There are also a number of pages that you might want to exclude from DSAs serving depending on your particular needs:

  • Exclude pages featuring products that are no longer in stock or have limited stock
  • Exclude pages from your blog
  • Exclude pages from your help pages, privacy policy, etc.
  • Exclude your home page or top level pages

I hope that this blog series will help ease your mind as you consider including Dynamic Search Ads in your paid search accounts.  They aren’t a perfect fit for every web property in need of advertising, but I would certainly give them a shot.  As with most PPC tools, they are worth testing, and when used properly, can be a powerful marketing tool.

~Are you already using Dynamic Search Ads?  Join the discussion.  Let us know how you’re using them below!