So far this week, we have discussed the best practices for writing great PPC ad texts. The ideas presented have thus far focused on writing techniques, not necessarily search engine provided tools. However, today I’d like to discuss one of the most powerful tools provided to advertisers: Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI). DKI is a way to write your ad so that a user’s actual search query keyword will be inserted into your ad text.

The basic idea here is that if your ad contains the actual text the searcher entered, they will view your ad as the most relevant and will click on your ad! Google AdWords and Yahoo! Search Marketing both use very similar operators for this tool. By entering {KeyWord:Your Default Text Here} into the headline, body text or display URL, the searcher’s query will be automatically entered into your ad. The caveat, of course, is that the keyword must fit within your ad’s character limits. If the keyword is longer than the space allotted in the headline or body text, the default text you enter will be displayed instead. Google’s example shows this quite effectively:

Actual Ad in Your AccountBrand New {KeyWord:Phones}
Huge selection of phones. Great prices.
{Keyword:phones} in stock. Free shipping!
Ad 1 – Keyword: nokia n90Brand New Nokia N90
Huge selection of phones. Great prices.
Nokia n90 in stock. Free shipping!
Ad 2 – Keyword: samsung d500Brand New Samsung D500
Huge selection of phones. Great prices.
Samsung D500 in stock. Free shipping!
Ad 3 – Keyword: motorola razor silverBrand New Phones
Huge selection of phones. Great prices.
Phones in stock. Free shipping!

MSN adCenter takes a slightly different approach to DKI. When writing ads, you have the option to enter one of the following variables: {keyword}, {param1}, {param2}, {param3}. The keyword variable is your tool for entering the search query into your ads. What’s really cool is that adCenter takes DKI to the next level with the {param} variables. These three variables are all set at the keyword level so that you can customize the destination URL and two other variables within an ad (i.e. price, shipping time, etc.). What this means is that the generic ads you have in your ad group will instantly be customized dependent on the keyword triggered by the search query! Here is the example from adCenter:

The ad text “All roses are {param2}
and {param3}” could change throughout the ad campaign:

  • All roses are 10% off and shipped anywhere in the country or region.
  • All roses are 25% off and shipping is free.
  • All roses are half-price and guaranteed fresh.

In most cases, using DKI in your ad text can increase click-through-rate (CTR) within your PPC campaigns. But I should point out a few considerations before you go and put DKI in all of your ads. Many advertisers use DKI as a crutch for poor PPC management. In other words, they put as many keywords as possible into a single ad group and use DKI to tailor the ad for each searcher (like shooting fish in a barrel). Sounds great, but it just simply won’t work. All of the major PPC search engines have quality based initiatives in play that will “punish” your campaign for this type of thing. So, before you put DKI into every ad, try taking a look at your account structure and find ways to group similarly themed keywords together. This will make writing relevant ads much easier and at that point DKI will become a tool to use for increasing CTR instead of a crutch for writing poor ads.

One last tidbit to consider: a lot of advertisers have the mindset that using DKI in their ads will automatically increase CTR. I’m here to say that this isn’t so! As with everything in the world of PPC, testing is your greatest weapon! Pit your DKI ad against an ad written with plain text and see which one performs the best. In some cases, the plain text ad will be victorious. If you are running a PPC account and do not currently use DKI, I suggest you give it a try starting today. It’s really simple to implement and really simple to test. Let us know if you have any questions!