Taste Tests, Bad Marketers and Dynamic Search Ads

Rob T. Case
Taste Tests, Bad Marketers and Dynamic Search Ads

At least once a year, the members of my massive family get together, and inevitably the tales of my childhood are shared. For me, though sometimes embarrassing, I rather appreciate hearing the stories because I really can’t remember much of anything below the age of 19. Some people seem to pull up stories from when they were four years old as though it was yesterday, which I always find impressive. For me, the past is like a distant, fog covered landscape, with only the occasional spark of light that quickly fades…so I’ll take what I can get when I can get it.

During one of these discussions recently, a story about when I was very young really stood out. Maybe it was because it wasn’t focused on the usual string of freak accidents I apparently endured (which in hindsight might be part of the reason I lack most of my hindsight), but instead on “peculiar behavior” I exhibited.

Around the summer of 1983, my mother and father awoke to a quiet house. My sister was asleep, and 3 year old “me” was awake and downstairs. My mother made her way downstairs with my dad, and when they turned the corner into the living room, there I was standing by a coffee table covered in carefully laid out slices of bread. On each slice of bread was a substance. One was covered in salt, one in pepper, one in ketchup, one in barbecue sauce, and so on.

By my mother’s telling, there were roughly 18 slices, and each one had a large bite out of it. Whenever the story is told everyone has a laugh about how I love food, and how I was looking for that perfect topping. It’s true I do love food, but this time the story had triggered more in me than simply the wish there had been a video camera there to capture my face when I bit into that salt covered slice…oddly enough I was thinking about Adwords Dynamic Search Ads.

Now before you judge me, let me elaborate. I didn’t immediately think of DSAs, but that image of young me empirically sampling toppings made me consider the last 15 years of my marketing career. I have always been the type to learn things the hard way, and just because someone tells me I shouldn’t do something…unless there is a jail sentence attached to it…I will likely try it for myself.

I have heard from many “experts” that I should avoid various marketing channels, and the one I heard the most negativity about was Dynamic Search Ads. “Horrible. Awful. Wasteful.” So with all of this negative attention how could I resist testing it out? One more example of what a bad reputation DSAs have happened recently when one of my clients was pitched by a large agency who cited the fact that I was utilizing Dynamic Search Ads as evidence that I was being irresponsible with the client’s ad spend.

After a few years of using DSAs in my overall strategy, I can say they have become one of my most powerful tools for driving conversions/leads. You may not believe me, so I present the following:

DSA example

Let those metrics sink in. This is a snapshot of the last 30 days. This is one very happy client. I am running about 30 other campaigns in the same account for this client, and none of them even hold a candle to the performance we have seen from one DSA campaign.

So if you want to test this for yourself, which I am clearly encouraging, let me explain how I manage these campaigns. First you enter the campaign, click on the “Auto Targets” tab and then go here:

DSA Process

Now you can see all of the terms that are being matched to your webpages. From here, you can choose to sort by either the search term, by the performance of the term or both. Identify the keywords you no longer want to be matched with, and then exclude them.

DSA Process

Once you have made your choices, verify them in the keyword selection box that appears, and then click save once you have completed your choices.

DSA Process

That is how you manage a DSA campaign. I’m not sure why it is such a loathed option, but when I quiz people, I often find that they didn’t realize they could manage it at the keyword level. Once you know how, you can see it is actually a fairly simple management process. This doesn’t mean you should rely only upon DSAs to run campaigns, far from it, but in your marketing tool box remember that DSAs can be an excellent tool for your client if managed correctly.

Every channel Google offers can be utilized for success where it makes sense, and the only way you will ever know “when” it makes sense is to be brave enough to test them yourself. There are plenty of fake or bad SEMs out there, and many of them will happily steer you away from things that could work very well for your client. So lay out your own pieces of bread, apply your own toppings, and learn what works. Otherwise, please refer to yourself as a marketing observer, and leave the work to those of us who aren’t afraid to eat a pile of salt from time to time. This is how we learn!

Have you tried using DSAs yet? Have they worked for you?

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Rob T. Case is a digital marketing expert and President of VonClaro Inc. Rob was Director of Performance for the 2015 Google Search Excellence Award winners, one of four selected to serve as a judge for the 2014 Google Search Excellence Awards, and worked at Google as Adwords Performance Expert training account executives and managers in Search/Adwords best practices. Rob is also co-inventor of the REFbox and co-Host of the radio show/podcast "The Rob and Tristan Show."
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Robby Wilson
I am also a frequent user of dynamic keyword insertion for numerous campaigns and have seen great success. Why it continues to have such an abysmal reputation among the industry talking heads is beyond my understanding. So long as it is executed properly, it is another effective tool in my box.
Rob T. Case
Robby Wilson
Robby, I can't imagine who is telling you to avoid dynamic keyword insertion, especially with it's incredible track record of CTR performance, but it doesn't surprise me. Unless the client's core keywords have tricky legal considerations around terms, they should always be serving at least one ad with dynamic insertion. Sometimes it feels like the "talking heads" are intentionally attempting to ruin everyone else's efforts...
Zac Nicholson
I use DSAs, more as a net to catch things that are missed by my keywords. Every now and thing I go and see what search terms are driving traffic and conversions through DSA and then add those to a normal search campaign to be targeted by keywords.
Rob T. Case
Zac Nicholson
A strategy I also utilize for clients within highly competitive verticals, who have have a only a few types of products/services to sell/offer. Happy to see another "thinking strategist" at work. :)

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