Understanding Dynamic Search Advertisements in 2021


Ecommerce sites often have hundreds or thousands of product pages. Creating keyword-based ads in Google for every page is tedious and sometimes impractical. That is the purpose of dynamic search ads. Advertisers can tell Google which pages and topics to target on their websites, and Google will dynamically serve ads for those targets from relevant searches.

Google and Microsoft have offered DSAs for a decade. The ads can produce amazing results. However, many advertisers see DSAs as a unique selling point for capturing traffic with just a few keyword-based campaigns. That’s right, but it doesn’t include all of the benefits.

Dynamic search ads

DSAs are like Google Shopping campaigns in that they don’t use keywords. A shopping campaign targets product groups; DSAs target websites. Google assigns the search query to the dynamic target. Google discovers these pages through its search and ad crawler technology. Advertisers can choose from a variety of dynamic ad targets on their websites, including:

  • Categories defined by Google,
  • Websites by content,
  • Websites by title,
  • Websites by url,
  • All websites.

For example, let’s say I want to create a DSA campaign for a selection of oval coffee tables. I could set up dynamic goals on my website like this.

  • The category defined by Google that best represents “oval coffee tables”.
  • Any side that contains the word “oval”.
  • Any page that includes “oval” in the page title.
  • Any page that includes “oval” in the URL.
  • All pages of my website, although I wouldn’t use this option as my oval coffee tables appear on limited urls.

Each goal should be unique to an ad group. For example, I could set up the dynamic destination of any page whose URL contains “oval” and place it in an “oval coffee table” ad group. That way I could create a manual or automatic bid strategy for that category.

Wayfair could do this, for example, with this page that contains “oval” in the URL: https://www.wayfair.com/furniture/pdp/willa-arlo-interiors-tuller-oval-Coffee table-w005486176.html.

The URL for this “Tuller Coffee Table” page on Wayfair contains the word “oval”. Wayfair could target that word and url through dynamic search ads.

A search for “oval coffee table” could generate a dynamic search ad that leads to this Wayfair page. The ad itself would use a dynamic headline that Google generates based on the page content. The table’s name – “Tuller Oval Coffee Table” – is a likely candidate. Advertisers only provide the description lines for DSAs. Google also picks the final URL and the displayed URL.

Screenshot from Google showing the framework for a dynamic search ad.

Google generates DSA headings based on the page content. Advertisers only provide the description lines. Google also picks the final URL and the displayed URL. Source: Google.

Note that advertisers can submit a feed with pages to target against those in the Google index. Google then selects from the feed.

Why dynamic search ads?

Regardless of the number of keyword-based campaigns, many advertisers are unlikely to ever cover their website’s entire keyword inventory. This is especially true for ecommerce retailers who are constantly adding products. In addition, consumers submit first-time inquiries every day. Dynamic search ads cover unknown keywords.

DSAs are also an effective tool for keyword research. As with standard search campaigns, advertisers can view query reports to see which terms triggered their DSAs. Advertisers could then assign high conversion rate topics to separate ad groups or campaigns to grow. Using the “oval coffee table” example, I was able to determine that the query “oval coffee table” and variants work well. I could break this topic up into its own campaign and create ad groups with specific ad copy and extensions.

DSAs are usually cheaper than keyword-based campaigns. Advertisers can set lower (manual) bids than in other search campaigns. Google recommends bids, but in other campaigns I usually start at half the cost. If I bid $ 1 on average in Campaign A, I am bidding $ 0.50 in the DSA Campaign. Advertisers using automatic bidding should likely set a higher return on advertising spend (ROAS) or lower cost-per-acquisition (CPA) to ensure profitability.

Be aware that DSAs generate unqualified traffic. Google will inevitably show ads for irrelevant searches. The goal is that irrelevant searches make up only a small fraction of the total traffic, again through lower bids, a higher ROAS, or a lower CPA.


The excluded queries in DSAs are often as important as the goals. Primary exclusion vehicles are negative keywords and negative dynamic targets. Negative keywords in DSAs work the same as they do in search campaigns. Adding negative keywords will eliminate irrelevant traffic. Identify these keywords in the search query report.

Remember to add the exact matching versions of broad keywords as negative keywords. For example, for our “oval coffee table” scenario, Google could place ads for querying “tables”. Adding the exact match of “tables” as a negative keyword ensures that no ads are shown for that broad search query.

The other form of exclusion is negative dynamic ad targets. Similar to telling Google which pages to target, advertisers can also assign the pages to be excluded. Common ecommerce exclusions include blog posts, policy pages, and FAQs – all of which result in fewer conversions but make remarketing easier.

Screenshot from Google showing the interface for the assignment

Advertisers can assign the negative pages using “negative dynamic ad targets”. Source: Google.

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