Dynamic Ads: Why you shouldn’t fire your Google Adwords operator just yet

Google enlarged its beta test group for Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) this week in order for larger clients like retail chains to take advantage of the traffic they’re losing out on by not targeting their keywords properly. DSAs, not to be confused with Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI), create adverts based on the content of your site.

Steven Levy, author of In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works and Shapes Our Lives, speaks of the early Google days when the founders were trying to figure out how to monetise their fledgling Adwords program: CEO, Larry Page, had the idea that advertisers could “give their credit card number and point Google to their website.” Rather than having to go through the complex operation of picking keywords, writing ad copy and pointing the ads to the relevant pages, “Google would choose them.”

The aim of the DSA product is to match the advertisers product and their descriptions dynamically to search ads within Google — the idea being that Google users will see more relevant ads based on their search criteria than ever before. It works by allowing the advertiser to put in the URLs of the pages they want the ads to go to:

And then Google generates the ads based on a template that you’ve written:

Each day, Google receives 16% of searches that have never been seen before, and Google’s thinking is that:

…even well-managed AdWords campaigns containing thousands of keywords can miss relevant searches, experience delays getting ads written for new products, or get out of sync with what’s actually available on your web site. That’s not great for advertisers.

The reaction to this announcement hasn’t been the anticipated fanfare that one would expect from such a revolutionary product offering, with industry operator Melt du Plooy from Virtuosa voicing his disapproval on Twitter:

To back this up, Gary from PPCAssociates argues in his article “Writing a blank cheque to Google” that:

With keyword-level and query-level data, smart advertisers can deftly pick and choose where they want to show ads and create highly efficient campaigns. Take away the ability to control spend at a keyword/query level, and these smart advertisers are now knocked down to the level of less smart advertisers, the ones who are already happy to buy broad-match keywords and assume that Google will match them on relevant queries.

To put it another way, “dynamic search” would have no impact on dumb advertisers who are already running inefficient campaigns, but it would make it harder for smart advertisers to continue to run at their current levels of efficiency. Translation: less transparency for advertisers, and more control of revenue for Google.

Where they both get this wrong is where DSAs allow for full reporting on searches that generated clicks, destination pages that matched ads, ad headlines that were generated, as well as average CPC, clicks, and conversions. So Google is at least coming to the party on the transparency front unlike it did with its recent SSL/SEO encoding announcement.

So does this mean the end of established search agencies like Rimm-Kaufmann Group and Clicks2Customers? The answer is a resounding: No! DSAs are designed to complement existing campaigns, not supplant them. Mark Ballard argues that:

For an advertiser selling tens of thousands of SKUs with a great deal of turnover, it can be difficult to ensure that all appropriate new keywords are added the moment each new product goes up. DSAs can serve as a stopgap until the proper keyword additions get made.

I’ve dealt with stock-monitoring software that links to keyword generation and activation for five years now, and my company writes ad copy that has the exact keyword in the copy (something DSAs with their templates can’t do. We also price those keywords in order to achieve a specific cost-per-acquisition for our clients which DSAs aren’t geared up for. What’s really troubling is that creating an advert template upon which a search query is the headline makes the description lines of that advert ineffectual against the query being searched.

If we step back from the coalface and take Google’s SSL/SEO encryption update and DSAs into account what’s apparent is that Google is making efforts to further monetise its search query volumes either by “protecting the data” (read: Being less transparent in the organic search channel) or by opening the gateway to unseen queries.

Google is under pressure in its developing markets and these latest developments add further fuel to the fire as to whether the moves are better for the user or not.



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