10 things people won’t tell you about Dynamic Search Ads for PPC

| 08 Apr, 2015

The Jellyfish team shares their experience with Dynamic Search Ads, first tackling the things you might not be told before selecting to use DSA for a campaign.

Don’t know how Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) works? Google explains here.

They can be a gargantuan waste of time, if:

1. Your website content is not up to date, meaning you’ve probably not maintained your organic SEO

2. You don't have a very large inventory and/or have it already or sufficiently covered already by PPC

3. You think it’s a shortcut to not having to manage paid search campaigns

4. You are a control freak and want to own your CTRs and have tried and tested methods

5. Your description lines need to be tailored not generic and dynamically generated headers based on your site content isn’t enough

If you are happy that you have none of the above issues and want to...

1. Get more traffic with a wider reach but have the best-selling products or most specific keywords covered

2. Better manage your large site inventory – i.e. a large number of keyword and category targets

3. Bring back to life a poor performing keyword that wasn’t getting good enough CTRs/CPAs through direct bids

4. Improve the CTR and CPA potential of a previously poor performing keyword

5. Sell seasonal product lines or you're expanding your business into new markets

...then DSA is for you.

Before kick off

Dynamic Search Ads add value to complement your existing PPC campaign as they’re designed to pick up any traffic that falls between the gaps outside of your current keywords-selected campaigns. As a component of your campaign repertoire, they can simplify a complex site inventory as you don’t have to do the usual extensive keyword build out.

As well as helping to cover products or offerings that might otherwise be missed, they can deliver strong core metric results that in turn lead to higher CTRs, if managed in relation to the rest of your portfolio.

As well as lots of content, well-structured URL’s are needed really to get the most out of Dynamic Search Ads.

If you need a general overview, why not take Google’s guided tour:


Google Dynamic Search Ads guided tour

If you now know enough, and bearing all the above in mind, here are my main pointers from my experience in using Dynamic Search Ads:

Longer headlines and long-tail search queries

The headline that contains words from the search query can be longer than standard text ads (by five characters) giving it more visibility and more opportunity for relevance for people searching for your product. 

Dynamic Search Ads

It also dynamically inserts the destination URL which can lead to higher conversion rates, we have seen up to 15% higher CVRs!

And it captures long-tail search queries.

Controlled bidding and higher returns

Remember to set your bids low as you don’t want DSA to steal traffic from already existing search campaigns.

At Jellyfish, we also use our negative routing methodology to ensure that the existing search campaign keywords get preference over the DSA campaign by applying them as negatives. 

You can also set mobile and location bid adjustments too just like keyword-targeted campaigns.

Targeting your DSA

There are four targeting options with DSA.


With URL targeting you simply target URLs that contain certain strings of text. You can set up a default ad group of “All web pages” with this targeting option, however, it is recommended to set a low bid and monitor the search queries closely.  You can then build more specific URL targeting, which is likely to give you better returns. For instance, targeting a certain product URL.


Category targeting uses Google organic search index to identify themes of the website content which are subsequently set up as categories which you can target. For instance 'Shoes.'

Page Title

With Page Title, you specify certain words that need to be contained within the Page Title. For instance, “high heels.”

Page Content

Page content targets specific words that need to contained within the content of the page, for example, “reductions.”

Getting Granular

You can create granular targeting by combining up to three dynamic targeting options. For instance, you could create a category dynamic target based on a brand, then use a website attribute where the page title target includes a specific product, and page content target includes the word "Sale." This enables more targeted options and would serve different ad copy than when the page content does not contain “Sale.”

You can review search queries; add negative keywords like usual, test new ads, do bid management and generally use it test new areas. DSA’s still enter the auction and you want your ads to be as relevant as possible for high-quality scores and CTR to aid your conversion rates. DSA campaigns still require optimization just as keyword targeted campaigns do, they should never be set up and left to run without being checked on frequently.

Optimisation checklist

1. As with usual search campaigns, you find the normal search query report under the keywords tab. Add top converting terms to your search campaign and add irrelevant search queries as negatives.

2. Make sure you add all keywords from your keyword targeted campaigns as negatives to your DSA campaign to ensure there is no cannibalisation.

3. You can add targeting exclusions like normal campaigns, to ensure certain pages aren’t scanned – like a blog or landing page with a sold out product. You can stipulate the exact text too (i.e. “sold out”) from the page in exclusions.

4. For category-level targeting, you can see reports which are refined to first-level and second-level subcategories. Here you can see which are performing well and which would benefit being broken out into new Dynamic Ad Targets with higher max CPCs, or which have weak performance and should be added as negatives.

What it doesn’t do… yet

There is currently no option to add audience targeting, which is sad as it would be very interesting to see how DSA could work in conjunction with RLSA.


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