Tool Tuesday – Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs)

Has the Age of “Paid SEO” arrived?

 

Picture this: Google crawls your site, matches a search query to one of your most important keywords, and then places a related, automatically-generated listing, pointing to the appropriate landing page – in the part of the SERP reserved for ads. Paid organic rankings? The death of keywords?

Google took a step in this direction recently when it announced completely-revamped Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs). Originally made available three years ago, this already-powerful tool has been “enhanced and retooled from the ground up.”

Basically, the DSA functionality allows advertisers to display customized ads in reaction to search queries – without specifying keywords. Google actually uses its organic indexing technology to crawl the advertiser’s site and automatically display ads that are relevant to its pages. Google creates a headline that is appropriate for the page’s product or service, and the description lines come from a template the advertiser supplies.

So what’s new for 2015? First, Google has added some powerful ways to target ads. You can choose to create DSAs for:

  1. All web pages – every page in the advertiser’s site domain
  2. Categories – this hot new capability finds Google volunteering identifying groups of site pages as falling into several categories and subcategories. Advertisers can create separate ad groups per category and subcategory, allowing them to assign separate bids and ad templates.

Don’t see the category you think should match your product or service? Google supplies a “category search” function that shows additional categories that might be better fits.

  1. URLs – advertisers can target pages whose URLs contain specified strings
  2. Page title: pages with specified strings in the page titles can be targeted
  3. Page content – Pages whose content includes specified words

Here’s a screen shot showing how targeting is accomplished, along with some example categories:

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When category-targeting is used, advertisers can use some new tools for visualizing how dynamic ads will be displayed. Advertisers can see example search queries that will trigger ads, example text ads, and the actual landing pages ad respondents will see. Advertisers will also benefit from seeing recommended bids.

Some notes and caveats:

  1. Judging by my tests, the new DSA technology seems to do a much better job of matching search queries to site pages. For example, the previous version did a poor job distinguishing between B2B and B2C eCommerce pages; the new version seems to suggest much more appropriate categories.
  2. Google recommends using one of the automated bid management features, like eCPC or CPA bidding, with DSA ads. My suggestion is to use manual bidding until your new DSSA campaign has accumulated enough (30-50) conversions. This will give the auto-bidding algorithms adequate data upon which to make decisions.
  3. Even with the better precision provided by category bidding, it’s likely that ads will occasionally be displayed in reaction to irrelevant search queries. Keep an eye on search queries and add negative queries as needed.

 

Want to learn more about the new DSA functionality? Start with the announcement here and the Help docs here. There’s even an introductory video, which you can find here.