Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) Campaign Best Practices

Dynamic search ad campaigns utilize Google’s organic website crawling technology to automatically target relevant user-intent based search queries based on relevant website URLs. In this blog entry, we cover everything from best practices to tips and tricks for Dynamic Search Ads.

Chris Hoogeland
Post Date:-
May 25, 2021


Dynamic search ad campaigns utilize Google’s organic website crawling technology to automatically target relevant user-intent based search queries based on relevant website URLs. In this blog entry, we will be covering everything from best practices to tips and tricks for Dynamic Search Ads. Let’s dive in!

Where DSAs are Helpful: Benefits

Who Shouldn’t Use DSAs?

Pros: Why Use a DSA Campaign

Addresses user intent

Dynamic search ads utilize organic web crawling to automatically target relevant user-intent based search queries based on your website content. The keywords that you target through a standard campaign might not have any user intention but through DSA, you directly address the user-intention.


Most of us will target [Grey Wedding Suit for men] as a keyword. However, the DSA campaign might discover search terms such as “grey wedding suit for short man” or “greyish wedding suit for brown man” you really never know. So, short, intent-based search terms can come in any form.

User Intent Increases with Long Term Search Terms

User-intent is further addressed by dynamically generated headlines. I know they sometimes look weird on Google paid search ads since Google’s machine learning and NLP have not yet become smart enough but DSAs try to address the user intent by generating dynamic headlines. Dynamically generated headlines are slightly longer than standard text ads adding more flexibility, relevance, and visibility for online searchers. 

Automated ads updates

When you update the content of the page, based on the fresh crawl, Google will try to match your updated webpage with the new intent-based search terms. 

Time & Traffic

Imagine a situation where you want to expose more online users to your brand because you have awesome products but you can’t find relevant keywords through keyword planner because there isn’t enough keyword volume for those keywords that you are looking for. DSAs can help you quickly scale your campaign by driving user-intent based traffic to the most relevant landing page on your site based on the user search terms. It might also result in budget wastage if not monitored carefully.

In this case, you do not need to do new keyword research from scratch, no ad copywriting, no grouping, no bidding, etc. Google does it all for you. You can even further utilize this free gift from Google to optimize your standard search ads campaign performance. Keep on reading to know why.

Better Bad Performers

Often I have seen that some of the poor performing keywords which were paused in the standard campaigns due to high CPA had begun to perform much better in DSA campaigns. On top of that, I have also seen that the longer you run the campaign, the better the performance of the DSA campaign gets.

High User intent

Total CTR of my DSA campaign is more than 40% which is not the case with even branded standard search campaigns. DSAs are highly intent oriented.

Cons: Why not to use a DSA Campaign

Not having full control

You might not have full control over how your ad copies and for what keywords or on which landing pages.

Improper ad copy

Since Google tries to fit in the organically crawled website content in ad copies, sometimes, ad copies might appear weird. Though Google is working on it but there is a long way to go when machines will start writing like humans.

Budget Wastage

Though one of the key pros of DSA campaigns is that they bring in new traffic and new search terms but that comes at a cost of ad spend. If you cannot control the prospective search terms using negative keywords, Google might show up your website for many unimaginable search terms.

DSA Campaign Case Study

DSA Campaign Performance

In one of my DSA campaigns, Google threw in a total of 198,426 search terms over a month of 6 months. Out of these search terms, a total of 193,418 search terms produced no conversions and accounting for a budget spend of $307,768 while the total budget spent was $452,278.

Though a conversion rate of 5.5 leveled out the campaign spend. Imagine being able to control the budget wastage and guiding them towards the conversion. Most of the non-converting search terms were long-tail keywords.

DSA Campaign Best Practices

DSA Campaign Structure

Since DSA campaigns utilize auto targets and auto targets belong in an ad group, try to be as granular as possible with the AdGroup to have better control. If you have a product line or product category, try to make ad groups based on them. Here is a screenshot of the sample campaign structure for a tea company.

Google DSA Campaign Structure

Note: Don't forget to add other categories/ sub-categories/ product-line as negative keywords in all other ad groups. Please also discern whether you think keywords or search terms should intersect.

Build the negative keywords list

I have already highlighted in the section above on budget wastage on a large number of search terms and long-tail keywords. Imagine controlling negative keywords to make converting keywords total percentage reaches 10% and that gives us the ROAS of 22. So keep on building the negative keywords list in order to minimize unwanted search terms.

Controlling negative keywords in DSA campaigns
Controlling negative keywords in DSA campaigns

Highlight your USP, offers & Promos

In DSAs, two lines of description are the only space that you get to show off your brand. Use those two lines to high top-level brand values, offers or promos. Always keep user experience and intent on your mind.

DSA Ad copy

Use DSAs for remarketing prospect win-back

Though Google will show the remarketing ads to the audience which have already seen you however if we retarget the remarketing audience through DSA, your remarketing audience can land on your website for some other search terms as DSAs bring a whole lot of new audience. You can either use the “Targeting” option or bid higher through “observation”. 

Give your DSA campaign time to learn

The longer you run your DSA campaign, the better it gets. Here is an example of campaign learning. The campaign started slow but learned a lot towards the end of the year as you can see in the screenshot below.

DSA Campaign performance over time

Avoid Keyword cannibalization

Make sure that there is no internal competition on the products targeted by the DSA campaign through other standard campaigns. Make sure to exclude the potential keywords which might create internal competition. On the other hand, if you are pausing or removing a keyword from any other search campaign, make sure to add those keywords as negative keywords in your DSA campaign as well. Google also considers overall account performance including keywords as well.

DSA page Exclusions

Here is a list of pages that should generally be excluded from the dynamic ad targets

Optimize your product pages for User intent

The better you do at SEO, the better you will also do with DSA – that’s what I have observed with my ECom clients. Organically organizing your product pages for SEO could be tricky. However, to know how the content targeting the user-based intent should look like, visit Amazon individual product pages. 

Focus on your website SEO

SEO, apart from paid media, should also be a high priority. Other than bringing in new organic traffic, SEO also helps learn and optimize your DSA campaign quickly.

DSA Campaign Optimization Techniques

There are a lot of ways to optimize a DSA campaign. Here are a few ways that on a generic level work for the DSA campaign optimization.

Regularly update the negative keywords

Here is a list of the negative keywords that I have put in the master negative keyword list. Updating the negative keywords helps you cut the cost of the ads being shown on unwanted search terms. Although, I have also observed that the need to update the negative keywords subsides with time as Google ads learn and more data accumulates in the account. You can do the same for the landing pages as well.

Put low performing AdGroups in a separate campaign

If you have multiple ad groups in your campaign, different ad groups will have different levels of performance. And if you see that google ads are allocating more than the required budget to the low performing ad groups, in that case, I weed out the low-performing ad groups and put them in a separate campaign. The easiest way to do so is to duplicate the campaign and do the needful. I usually prefer to give 80% to high performing ad groups campaign and 20% budget to the low performing ad groups of the total budget from the initial DSA campaign.

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