Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) and ecommerce are the perfect match, like honey on a spicy pizza. Here are 5 ways we use DSA with retail clients 

Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) launched way back in 2014 or maybe even 2013. They were an idea before their time and were an 100% hit or miss with clients. Over the last couple years Google has gotten better and now we find we can not live without DSA.

Dynamic Search Ads are the easiest way to find customers searching on Google for precisely what you offer. Ideal for advertisers with a well-developed website or a large inventory, Dynamic Search Ads use your website content to target your ads and can help fill in the gaps of your keyword based campaigns. Dynamic Search Ad headlines and landing pages are also generated using content from your website, which keeps your ads relevant and saves you time. All you need to do is add a creative description. Google support.

Two of five ways we find ourselves using DSA is to remarket to people who have already been to our site and are still researching their purchase. The other reason is to find keywords people are using that we are not bidding on already.

The latter is great for a well built out Google ad accounts that wants more traffic. For example, we manage a women’s fashion brand, and are finding people are converting on terms we would not have bid on originally.

I don’t know if it’s still 20%, but tons of new searches happen everyday that have never happened before. We still live in wild times. Lets walk through setting up your DSA campaign for success. The Page Feed feature in DSA campaigns can help you get up and running faster.

Setting Up Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) Campaigns

General settings under campaign setup

You want to create a new search campaign in your Google ads account. When you get to “General settings” during step 1. Click on “show more settings” just under the Networks section.

Enter the root domain (MyDonaimName.com), pick your language if it’s not English and leave the first option checked for your targeting source. The other two targeting sources are only available if you have a page feed (URLs you want to use for targeting and a custom label) setup.

If you upload a page feed, which we strongly recommend, then you should select the third option. That way you use your page feed and what Google will index of your site. If new pages get added to your site before the page feed is updated, Google has you covered.

Setting Up Page Feed in Business Data

Download the page feed data template (recommended) or create your own spreadsheet with at least 2 columns:

  • Page URL: This is the webpage you want to target. Enter one URL per row. Don’t use URLs with added tracking parameters. Learn how to set up tracking for Dynamic Search Ads.
  • Custom label: This label will help you target ads within your page feed and adjust your bid per label. Enter one or more labels per row separated with a semicolon (;). For example, you can create custom labels for popular hotels based on their star rating. Each 4-star rated hotel can be labeled “FOUR_STAR”; “POPULAR_DESTINATION”; and so on.

I have never seen anyone use more than these two columns but that is just one option. We grab a copy of our shopping feed and use the product type or google product category as our custom label. Make sure the column header title is correct and then follow the steps below to upload in your Google ad account.

Page feed setup.

Upload your Page Feed spreadsheet

Follow these steps to upload your spreadsheet to your account:

  1. In the upper right corner of your account, click the tools icon , then select Business data under “Setup”.
  2. Click the plus button , then select Page feed.
  3. Enter a name for your feed.
  4. Click Choose file and attach your feed file.
  5. Optional: Click Preview to view a summary of what will be uploaded.
  6. Click Apply.

Tip: For new page feed uploads or after editing existing page feeds, it can take a few days for Google to crawl the feed so there may be a delay before a page in the feed starts serving your Dynamic Search Ads.

Setting Up Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) Ad Groups

It’s a bit more work but worth the time invested. We always setup one ad group for each collection/category page on the site. That way, we can see at an ad group level, which categories are getting traction and converting. We also setup audiences at the ad group level to give us flexibility for audience bid modifiers.

When you get to the “Add Dynamic Ad Target” stage, you should do the following:

  1. Pick “Create a new rule to target specific webpages”
  2. Select “Create rules to target webpage”
  3. Paste in your collection/category page url that follows after your root domain E.g. /collections/womens-flats 
  4. Click “Add” and and then “Save”

Do that for each ad group and collection page you want Google to target on your site. We find that Shopify sites are 100% easier to get going with DSAs. Magento can be done but how category pages are organized makes them not run as smoothly.

Bonus ‘Catch All’ Ad Group

Ok, so now you’re targeting one ad group for each collection/category page on the site. But what if I told you there was another layer for those additional pages not included in your standard category pages. The catch all ad group is potentially the icing on your DSA cake.

When you get to the “Add Dynamic Ad Target” stage, you should do the following:

  1. Pick “All Webpages”
  2. Click Save
  3. This next step is crucial: Add each collection/category page url previously added for the other Ad Groups. E.g. /collections/womens-flats as a Negative Dynamic Ad Target
    1. Without the Negative Dynamic Ad Target’s you will end up with duplicate targets within the campaign and it’s going to be ugly
  4. Click “Add” and and then “Save”

Things to watch out for:

The best and worst thing about this Ad Group is that it casts the widest net for traffic, which as I’m sure you’ve guessed, can lead to an increased spend on irrelevant traffic. Be proactive about adding negative keywords for search terms you think may arise. Monitor the search terms for this Ad Group specifically, adding additional negative keywords when necessary. Google often uses misspelled brand terms for this traffic. 

On the flipside, as well as squeezing more conversions for your DSA, the additional data generated by this Ad Group can potentially inform new ideas for general campaigns, or ad groups you may have previously overlooked.

6 Ways To Use Dynamic Search Ads (DSA)

Standard Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) – Builtout Account

If you have a well built Google ads account, then add all the keywords you are bidding on as negative keywords to your DSA campaign. This way, Google will only go after keywords you are not already bidding on. Also add your brand name as a negative keyword to make sure you don’t mix brand and non-brand traffic together.

This is a great way to find new keywords your customers use to find your product. If the search volume is high, then you may want to build campaigns based on these new keywords. Otherwise, you can leave them running in your DSA campaign.

Standard Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) – Brand New Account

If you take on a new ecommerce client who has never used Google Ads before, setting up a DSA campaign to run will be the fastest way to get up and running. Just remember to setup a page feed, as we talked about above. Also try to think of search terms you won’t want to show for. For a lot of ecommerce clients this means searches around sex, xxx, jobs, careers and anything related to youtube and video games. Keep your budget low, so you don’t waste money out of the gate.

Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) RLSA

Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) is exactly what it sounds like. They are remarketing lists you can use with your search campaigns to show text ads to people who have left your site and have not purchased. You could also use them with customers and people who have purchased by trying to cross and up sell them on product.

Where the magic happens is combining DSA + RLSA together to make ads that are customized for each search. We take our best performing description line and add it to a DSA text ad and by layering on the search remarketing list. We can now have custom headlines shown to people we want to target.

This is a simple setup but we audit tons of ad accounts and still don’t see DSA RLSA campaigns setup or tested over the last few years. This is another way to really take your account up a notch. 

Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) Affinity and In-Market

Affinity and in-market audiences are lists Google creates based on people’s lifestyles, passions, & habits (affinity audiences) or target people who are in the market and research products (in-market audiences).

Both classes of audiences offer dozens of categories and subcategories of people you can target. If you don’t want to guess which audiences to use then make sure you have added these audiences under Observation for audience targeting for your campaigns.

After a few months of data, you can start to see which audiences convert and have the best profit margin for your business. Then you can target those audiences using a DSA campaign. Use the best performing description line from your ad account and make sure you bring in the type of customers you want. 

Affinity AudiencesIn-Market Audiences
Banking & Finance
Food & Dining
Home & Garden
– Bargain Hunters
– Luxury Shoppers
– Shopaholics
– Value Shoppers
Sports Fan
Outdoor Enthusiasts
Vehicles & Transportation
Apparel & Accessories
– Activewear
– Eyewear
– Lingerie
– Swimwear
– Women’s Apparel
Beauty Products & Services
Consumer Electronics
Sports & Fitness

If you are unsure of which affinity and in-market audiences to use, check your Audience report in Google Analytics.

  1. Sign In to Google Analytics
  2. Click on Audiences > Interests
  3. Click on Affinity or In-Market

The Overview tab here is great because it will tell you your best audiences at a high level. Make sure you pick a 60 day or even a 180 day date range. If you want to get more granular, you can always look at the Affinity and In-Market tabs. Some of the audiences will make sense and others might cause you to take a second look. All are worth testing to see what works.

Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) Custom audiences

Custom audiences are a great way to target customers by whatever interests you choose, simply by entering relevant keywords and URLs. You can utilize a Custom Audience in your DSA after creating it in Audience Manager, which can be found under the Shared Library. 

But what types of audiences should you create? Here’s a few tips to get you started:

  1. Use existing data: Create custom audiences for the prospecting interests that are performing well on Facebook and advertise to them on Display.
  2. Audience Analysis: Has your business ever done an audience analysis of their ideal customer? Use this data to influence your audience choices.
  3. Think of the customers interests in brands: Competitive & complementary

As niche as you can get: e.g. does your customer have a favorite musician that you want your ads to show beside? You’d be surprised by the results.

Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) YouTube

Similar to the affinity and in-market audiences above, layer on YouTube audiences onto your DSA campaign. You can target all your videos, just videos used in ads, or people who like & subscribe to your channel. Even pick your most popular videos or your latest videos related to a product launch. If you have a lot of how-to and educational content, that is a great list to build as well. Make sure you test and learn which YouTube audiences are going to convert for you. YouTube is the second largest English speaking search engine in the world.

YouTube is a great channel because if someone is watching your videos and enjoying your brand, showing them an ad on Google is the next best place to capture their attention. Don’t miss out on this opportunity.

Dynamic search ads is a powerful feature that gets overlooked by many in-house teams and agencies. It has come a long way in the last few years and I don’t even know where we would be without it.