Google Shares (A Little More Of) The Reins On DSAs
April 6, 2017
There are mixed opinions when it comes to dynamic search campaigns. Some advertisers completely give Google the keys, while others won’t even let Google into the car. No matter what side of the spectrum you fall into, the most recent updates are worth noting. For one, the dynamic ads are going to begin transitioning into the expanded text ad structure. More importantly, Google is also introducing “Page Feeds” to DSA campaigns. Like most new features, I imagine the page feeds will have their own set of initial kinks. However, these updates should be all-around beneficial additions.
Whether DSAs run your account or serve as a low budget catch-all for “everything else,” these updates will be key towards increasing efficiency. In this post, I’ll provide a recap of what DSAs are, a more in-depth look at the updates, and a couple pointers for implementation.
Dynamic search ads are great about covering those search queries that are a little more abstract or those queries that otherwise may not have been considered. Google crawls your site and dynamically creates an ad based on how the search query matches the site’s content. In other words, the advertiser creates a generic ad and Google dynamically generates a headline and appropriate landing page to match. Depending on how your account structure is setup, DSAs can be a great catch-all system to have in place.
While they most definitely have their fair share of limitations, these updates should make DSAs more manageable. DSAs are worthwhile to test in some form within all accounts.
What The Updates Mean
I’m surprised it took this long for DSAs to adjust to the expanded text ad format, but nevertheless, it’s finally happening. At first glance, adding more characters to the “universal” portion of a dynamic ad may seem a little tedious. We sometimes feel limited on what ad copy will work in “all” situations. However, we should be stingy with the ad real estate that Google provides. With the current DSA setup, this update as a standalone wouldn’t mean as much. But with the addition of page feeds, advertisers can not only be stingier with ad space, but they can also be more specific with that ad space.
Before page feeds, we were (more or less) limited on available DSA targeting. That is, we could target all web pages, specific web pages, or different categories based on Google’s suggestions. However, the page feeds allow us to add custom labels to different URLS. We can now further segment and categorize our DSA ad groups and campaigns, similar to how a shopping feed works. So in theory, this update gives the advertiser a little more control. With this addition, we should see improvements in our DSA campaigns with CTR and conversion rates. Also, there will be more control with bidding and targeting per different areas of the website.
Implementing the expanded text ad update will be pretty straight-forward. It comes down to making sure you adjust once it’s available in your account. For example, here is the backend of a generic, standard version of a dynamic search ad.
Similar to the old standard text ads, there are character space limitations of 25, 35, and 35. The headline and URL are dynamically generated, which means the description lines are customizable at 35 characters a piece. The new expanded text ad would follow the new ad guidelines of 30, 30, 80. In other words, Headline 2 and the description are customizable at 30 and 80 characters, respectively. The backend of the expanded text ad setup should look similar to this example.
This part of the update should be fairly simple to adjust and implement across your DSA campaigns. Again, use it as an opportunity to be a little stingier with your ad real estate.
Page feeds, on the other hand, will take a little more time to implement depending on the level of aggressiveness. Advertisers technically already have the ability to segment out DSA campaigns with specific landing pages and the Google-recommended categories. However, the page feeds should push a little more control to the advertisers’ side. Similar to a shopping feed, we will now be able to categorize different URLs with custom labels. The template and guide for this are available in this post. Here is an example of that template.
There will be a surplus of different strategies and uses for the page feeds update depending on the advertiser/account. For example, you will be able to better target promotions, new products, and only URLs within a set page feed. However, my wheels are already spinning around a couple of ideas.
- The first is around better category segmentation. In the current DSA state, there are many underperformers, unrelated searches, wrong landing pages, etc. that bring down overall performance and waste budget. One good option for this update would be to have a campaign around top performers only, with each top performer being its own ad group. I’m looking forward to implementing a strategy like this because it still has an “everything else” mentality, but ideally with more qualified, controlled traffic.
- The second is around associating DSAs with promotions. I prefer ecommerce work, so anything that helps provide promotional information to the customer is right up my alley. For one, there will be more room to actually speak to the promotion with the expanded text ad update. Also, page feeds will allow advertisers to group certain products or categories around promotions. So, in terms of catching the “everything else” traffic, this update will be helpful in pushing promotional reach even further.
These updates are still in the process of being rolled out to accounts. I am eagerly awaiting the chance to test out these strategies. While dynamic search campaigns look good on paper, they can be difficult to implement and optimize due to a lack of control. However, these additions are a step in the right direction for improvement. As they arrive at the fingertips of more advertisers, I’m sure praises and complaints will arrive in a variety of different shapes and sizes. But, I am optimistic about the change and look forward to writing about more specific strategies as they evolve.
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