Catalyst Google Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) POV

What are Google Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs)?

Google’s Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs) use the content of an advertiser’s website to help better target the advertiser’s paid search ads. These ads automatically generate ad headlines based on a user’s search query and the advertiser’s website content. When a Google user searches a term that closely aligns or relates to the advertiser’s website, a DSA may be served. When the DSA is served, the headline and landing page are dynamically generated based on the search query.

For example, if a luxury hand bag retailer had a DSA campaign and a consumer searched for “luxury cross body handbags,” the retailer’s ad headline could be dynamically updated to “Cross-Body Handbags,” thereby increasing relevancy to the individual user’s search. Google positions DSAs as an efficient way for advertisers to “fill in the gaps of your keyword-based campaigns” by increasing reach without having to spend time adding or managing more keywords and ads.

When executed correctly and supported by relevant onsite content, dynamic creative can also provide the following additional benefits:

  • Increased cost efficiencies
  • Increased relevancy
  • Automated keyword research

What’s New?

On March 28, 2017, Google announced several changes to DSAs. The changes include improvements like page feeds, expanded ads, and other quality enhancements. All of these changes aim to give advertisers more control over DSA targeting, creative, and automation.

Page Feeds

Page feeds are a new website targeting option for DSAs. Prior to page feeds, advertisers’ website DSA targeting options were all pages, and specific or category pages.

Page feeds allow advertisers to specify the exact URLs for their ads, allowing for more control over landing pages. This is specifically valuable for brands who prioritize content creation for specific products and pages.

Page feeds are currently available. To begin using page feeds, advertisers and agencies need to manually upload a list of URLs to the Business Data section of AdWords and then AdWords will automatically identify relevant queries to serve ads. URLs in the feed will be crawled to index new properties or inventory. Google states that “it can take a few days to crawl new webpages in the feed, so there may be delays before a page in the feed starts serving your Dynamic Search Ads.” Advertisers and agencies should keep that in mind as they start to use this feature.

Expanded Dynamic Search Ads

Earlier last year, Google’s search and display campaigns fully migrated to expanded text ads (ETAs). This change introduced an extra ad headline and 10 more characters to the description line. Now, over the course of the next month, Google will be rolling out support for this expanded format for DSA campaigns as well. This will be advantageous as it will allow advertisers to further maximize their presence on the results page. Expanded dynamic ads will be rolled out on rolling basis starting in Q2.

Google DSA

Quality Enhancements

The last change in this group of updates is positioned as “quality enhancements.” Google has provided little detail beyond that, but their example suggests improvements around location-based targeting. They say, “It’s important that your ads only show when they’re most relevant to what people are searching for. For example, if you’re a baker in Palm Springs, your ads should only show to people who are looking for baked goods in Palm Springs.” Although vague, Google reports that the quality enhancements are increasing conversion rates and decreasing CPA.

Who is Impacted By These Changes?

Any advertiser or agency using DSAs is impacted by these changes. Since the changes introduce new layers of control, these updates may also present a new opportunity for advertisers who avoided DSAs in the past due to control and relevancy concerns. Previously hesitant advertisers may be encouraged by these improvements and start testing DSAs as part of their paid search campaign.


Historically, DSAs have been a hard-sell to advertisers and agencies due to issues and concerns over irrelevantly matching queries to destination pages. But, thanks to these recent improvements, advertisers now have greater control over their DSA campaigns while still being able to capture consumer intent that they otherwise may not have captured. The changes could benefit advertisers by increasing ad and landing paging relevancy, but advertisers and agencies should continue to closely monitor and optimize their accounts to ensure they are always delivering the best experience and most relevant content.

What Should Advertisers Do?

With the new level of control provided by page feeds, it is important for advertisers and agencies to carefully select the landing pages for their DSAs. Advertisers and agencies should select pages that are well-optimized and that have sufficient content in order to maximize ad relevancy. Dynamically generated headlines are dependent upon site content, title tags, and H1 tags. Often, headlines are pulled directly from page titles. Thus, advertisers need to ensure that the selected URLs can deliver relevant headlines. If advertisers and agencies find that many of their pages are not optimized, they should work with SEO teams to improve optimization and understand gaps, and/or add those URLs as exclusions.

With these changes, DSA campaigns will continue to be a source of new ideas for branded and non-branded keyword expansions. Given this, advertisers and agencies should continue to follow DSA best practices. For example, once new terms are added to a new or existing standard search campaigns, they should be added as negatives into the DSA campaign. This gives priority to existing exact campaigns in matching to queries. The same applies for the DSA campaign – all active keywords in standard search campaign should be added as negatives in the DSA campaign. Keep in mind that due to the large amount of negatives that can be added at the campaign or group level, the campaign can reach its entity limits, and that’s why the use of a separate DSA shared negative list is recommended.

Beyond Google

Advertisers and agencies should note that Bing is also currently enrolling advertisers for a DSA pilot on a rolling basis. Bing’s DSA will support all existing ad features, such as ad annotation and extensions, enhanced CPC, remarketing lists, tracking templates, and will be eligible for Google imports. Bing has not yet confirmed whether page feeds and extended ads will be available any time soon.

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