How Dynamic Ads Can Supercharge Your SEM Campaigns #SMX

As part of your SEM campaigns, are you running Dynamic Search Ads, known as DSAs? Discover the websites that are naturally going to benefit from DSAs and how to use automation rules to control DSAs. Beyond search ads, learn about DSAs for display ads and Facebook ads as well.


Brad Geddes, Founder, Certified Knowledge (@bgTheory)

Speakers for DSA session at SMX West
Brad Geddes (left) with speakers Sahil Jain and John Lee


  • Sahil Jain, CEO and Co-founder, AdStage (@sahilio)
  • John Lee, Managing Partner, Clix Marketing (@john_a_lee)

Sahil Jain: Pros/Cons and Advanced Automation Strategies for DSAs

Jain built a cross-platform ad management tool. His agenda for this presentation:

  • How Dynamic Search Ads work
  • Who should use DSA
  • Pros and cons of DSA
  • Best practices/chacked/
  • Advanced automation strategies for DSAs

What are Dynamic Search Ads?

Create an ad and the headline and destination URL are created dynamically; the search engine selects them. Whatever the search query is, the engine finds the most relevant landing page and the existing query to generate the headline. You define description 1 and 2.

Setting Up DSAs

It’s a search network-only ad type. Use your base domain. Get more granular by adding a category.

Categories: You have recommendations provided to you, and you can also override them. The problem with DSAs is that they can go wild. He recommends containing them by being more specific with your categories selected.

Who Should Use DSAs?

He believes there are the big 3 website types for using DSAs:

  1. Education
  2. Ecommerce
  3. Travel

Verticals that have several landing pages, large product catalogs or various categories.

Small companies with limited resources can also benefit. There is less time to set up and you can get more data faster.

Why Dynamic Search Ads

Google talks about having more than a trillion different search queries a year. There are a lot of long-tail keywords that are high converters. There is more traffic you’re not capturing. Fifteen percent (15%) of daily searches, or about 500 million queries per day, are truly unique on Google, so that’s how they use DSA as a research tool.

Pros and Cons of DSAs

Advantages of using Dynamic Search Ads:

  • Minimal setup time
  • Capture more traffic
  • Dynamic landing page based on the query
  • Uncover converting search terms


  • More time required to optimize
  • Possibly more irrelevant traffic if not optimized
  • Less control over the destination URL
  • Less control over you ad’s headline

Best Practices for Successful DSA Campaigns

  • Negative keywords
  • Google Analytics
  • Small budgets
  • Ad testing

Add negative keywords — this gives you control over the beast that is DSAs. A useful tool is the Google AdWords Keyword Planner, which is good for finding negative keywords.

Pulling your search term reports inside AdWords.

Set very small budgets for these types of campaigns: $20-$50 budget per day. The initial goal is to get data. At just about $20-$50 they can get enough confidence in the setup and other variables they can adjust.

Use Google Analytics to measure the quality of traffic: time on site, conversion/goals and conversion rate.

Add specific web pages for better precision. This is an advanced tactic that goes against the first setup recommendations he provided. This gives you kiddie bumpers, or boundaries for your DSAs.

Test, Test, Test

Test variations of your ad copy: description line 1, description line 2 and display URL.

AdWords Automated Rules

  1. Increase bids to maximize the visibility of your ad.
  2. Increase budgets using your cost per conversion metric.
  3. Pause poor performing ads using CTR coupled with spend or impressions (create rule, pause ads).

Add safeguards to your automated rules:

  1. Preview the rules.
  2. Email every time it runs (he calls them alerts).
  3. Only email sans action.

John Lee: How DSAs Can Supercharge Your Campaigns

Dynamic ads: an introduction. Dynamic ads are not plain text ads or boring static image ads. Inject additional content contextually based on different variables that will be covered here. Dynamic ads will likely become a factor in conversational search and the future of search.

Change the content of your ads dynamically based on keyword, website content, product/service data, real-time data and more. This applies to search, display and social ads.

Plan Ahead

Strategize the following:

  • Who are you targeting?
  • Where are you targeting them?
  • What is the intent or desired action?
  • Do you have all of the necessary accounts, tools and resources?

Accounts & Data Connections

Accounts: Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, Google Merchant Center, Google Docs, etc.

Data Connections: Retargeting, ecommerce tracking, ecommerce platforms or feeds, other database/API connections, etc.

Time and Resources

Setup: Setting up DSAs can be tedious and could require resources beyond your team or skill set. For example, data feed creation and data quality control, pixel placement, coding (scripts), promotion schedules, and so forth. One alternative is to use an SEM agency (like us!).

Countdown Text Ads: This is a cool feature that remains hidden if you don’t know about it. You can count down anything, like 4 days before a sale ends. You can use the countdown in a headline or body copy when {=COUNTDOWN} operator is used.

Ad Customizers {=DataSetName.AttributeName}: This pulls data from a feed and into a search text ad. Data feeds are managed through Shared Library > Business Data. The operator “DataSetName” points to the data feed.

Display Ads

Dynamic display ads can be laser focused. They can change based on location and what the user is viewing on the web.

  • They eliminate cumbersome campaign structures, which reduces management resources. Single display ad unit accounts for a multitude of variables (via data feed) and ad sizes (ad templates).
  • They free up creative resource bandwidth.
  • “Preferred Layouts” give you options.

These are categories that Google has already thought out the data templates for each of these vertical to do dynamic display ads. Image ads, text ads (hugely important on display).

Dynamic Product Ads

For ecommerce, DPAs are the perfect marriage of retargeting and your product feed. Dynamic Product Ads are a unique campaign type, and you link your Merchant Center account. Design is automatic but fully editable.

Facebook Ads Dynamic Product Ads

One of the worst headaches of Facebook Ads is getting product feeds set up. Create a product set and then the campaign, in that order. Then associate the product set and audience. Both are chosen at the Ad Set level. Facebook has a lot of audience targeting features, but for these DPAs you don’t have access to all the audience targeting options; instead, it’s related to retargeting (where the user was already on your site).


Scripts (which are JavaScript code) can help advertisers to:

  • Automate data feed creation for customizers and dynamic display ads.
  • Create data feeds that sync with other data points via API to apply real-time information to dynamic ads.
  • Create standard text ads dynamically based on real-time data.

He gives three resources for scripts:

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Virginia Nussey is the director of content marketing at MobileMonkey. Prior to joining this startup in 2018, Virginia was the operations and content manager at Bruce Clay Inc., having joined the company in 2008 as a writer and blogger.

See Virginia's author page for links to connect on social media.

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