The right way to get dynamic with Google AdWords


To be honest, AdWords hasn’t changed much since its launch in 2000. And that’s coming from someone who spends all their time either advertising, testing, reading, or writing about all things PPC and SEM.

Sure, AdWords has added a ton of capabilities over the years — from Gmail Ads late last year to extended display networks, ad extensions and reporting — but they hadn’t made all these options easier to use or more efficient to set up. It all just took more time, more manual work and more stress — that is, until Google began launching its line of dynamic feature sets to AdWords in 2013.

At first, like some of the other PPC pros here at Search Engine Land, I hated the initial versions of Google’s attempt to automate campaign creation. (For some, figuring out ways to avoid the new features may even have created more work!)

Google’s line of dynamic features and ad sets is its way of helping with all the manual processes required to set up an effective AdWords campaign. Products like Dynamic Remarketing and Search had rocky beginnings. But when used correctly, they’re now able to do a lot of the heavy lifting required to customize your ads, minus the stress.

Today, I want to show you how you can get dynamic in Google AdWords and start driving more relevant clicks and sales traffic to your business with ease. Here are the powerful opportunities hidden within Google’s dynamic features that we’ll cover:

  • How to speak your audience’s language with dynamic keyword insertion
  • Why every location extension should be using dynamic location insertion
  • How to give the people exactly what they want with dynamic remarketing
  • How to enter new markets and discover how Google perceives your online store by setting up a dynamic search campaign

1. Dynamic keyword insertion

Savvy advertisers are familiar with the One-Per Rule or SKAG method of search campaign setup. In this method, you create one keyword per ad group, then tailor your ad text only to that keyword. Not only is this the easiest way to a perfect Quality Score, but it also generates a maximally personalized ad to your soon-to-be-customer’s search term.

The biggest downfall with this method? It’s a pain in the butt.

Segmenting accounts into separate campaigns, let alone ad groups and landing pages, can drive a person crazy.

Dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) allows you to create a “fill in the blank” area in your ad where your soon-to-be customer’s search term will appear bolded. Instead of showing your awesome La-Z-boy ad on search, why not show your “Leather La-Z-Boy” for leather fans, and “Cheap, Comfy La-Z-Boy” to people seeking a little more comfort in their lives?

Here’s how to set them up for your business:

DON’T use DKI:

  • on competitor bidding campaigns. Though you can legally bid on a competitor’s keywords, you cannot use their name (keyword) in your ad text;
  • without proofreading and considering all taxonomies using the ad preview tool to make sure your ad will even make sense; and
  • without heavily testing the results and keeping in mind long-tail keyword searches. You can avoid this uncertainty by limiting your DKI to exact match.

To reiterate: Always, always, always use the ad preview tool in AdWords to test out some of your target keywords and see how your ad will appear once you launch your campaign.

2. Dynamic location insertion

Are you a keyword match-type master? Perhaps you know how to bulk-modify broad match modified keywords, have dabbled in DKIs and have your own master negative keyword list.

Even if you’re not there yet, let me motivate you by introducing the AdWords ad customizer.

When used in the right scenarios, ad customizer abilities like dynamic location insertion are surefire ways to save you time, customize your ad to the target audience and increase relevance.

Email marketers and all receivers of emails (everyone) are already familiar with Google’s reactive ad abilities. Companies can send personalized emails using merge tags, or variables that represent a variety of predetermined values. Though you may feel special when your favorite store says: “Hey, Sarah, claim your 50%-off coupon,” it’s likely that Mark, Cindy and Francis are all getting the same email addressed to them by name.

Similar to DKIs, dynamic location insertion and the other customizer options let you customize, update and tailor your search and display ad text to each target audience group. Unlike DKIs, however, customizer ads are more flexible and much easier to control.

After learning from Google support how to structure your data with this tutorial, you can customize your Title, URL, and Description based on the location of the searcher. Here’s what the data, merge tag and end result look like with location insertion:

location insertion example

source: Google

If your services are available in a number of ZIP codes, area codes or cities, you can use dynamic location insertion to instantly match your local message to their location. To be honest, this is a no-brainer for anyone advertising to multiple locations.

Other ad customizer abilities:

  • Create a reactive countdown to the end of a sale or event.
  • Cycle different offerings depending on the day of the week, week of the month or month of the year.
  • Adjust the inventory or offers you have available depending on the different keywords triggered.

Best practice: Does your ad make sense? Read your ad with all possible inputs generated above. Better yet, use the ad preview tool.

3. Dynamic remarketing

For anyone selling anything online, advertising to people who have interacted with your website in some way is essential to your digital strategy. In fact, I’d consider it a bare minimum. You pay a little extra to assure that you’re reaching a highly relevant audience.

Remarketing with AdWords, Facebook and other platforms allows you to track down users who have visited some page on your site in an attempt to get them to buy. Dynamic remarketing goes one step further: It allows you to track down what a user viewed on your site, then serve them custom ads based on their behavior.

If someone walks into Macy’s and looks at shoes, do you think a Macy’s sales rep should show them pots and pans or this season’s best-selling shoes? (Hint: not the pots and pans.) So, if you’re already remarketing, you may as well go all-in on this dynamic tool.

Follow Google’s setup tutorial to get started with dynamic remarketing.

4. Dynamic search campaigns

Other columnists here at Search Engine Land have talked about the surprising benefits of Dynamic Search Ads in the past, so apologies if I’m preaching to the choir here, but Dynamic Search can be an awesome tool for your account.

Instead of your having to tell Google what words your website should show for, Dynamic Search ads let Google tell YOU, broadly, what they think your website offers. You can think of them as similar to Google Shopping or product listing ads.

Dynamic Search campaigns are best used as a discovery tool. It’s an opportunity to understand how Google crawls your site and what Google deems as relevant. A better understanding of Google’s interpretation of your site will help you improve Quality Score for traditional campaigns. As you know, a boost in Quality Score will lead to improved performance and likely a decrease in cost per acquisition.

Dynamic Search thrives in two scenarios: 

  • catching low-cost broad match terms from falling through the cracks; and
  • discovering new, high-converting keywords by keeping an eye on the Search Terms Report and overall ad performance against your customized traditional search campaign.

Final thoughts

Utilizing dynamic features in AdWords lets you do more with less in AdWords. That said, you need to have a clear understanding of the various outcomes of these ad types; they may bring unexpected results that hurt your campaign performance. The use cases are endless, so I’d love to hear about your experience with the various dynamic insertion, keyword and campaign types in AdWords — and how I can help!

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