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Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) - A Guide to AdWords Dynamic Keyword Insertion

Dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) is a feature offered by Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing, and Microsoft Ad Center which allows you to customize an ad to a searcher's search query. In this tutorial you'll learn:

  • A more in-depth definition of dynamic keyword insertion.
  • A synopsis of why adwords dynamic keyword insertion matters to you and your pay-per-click campaigns.
  • An explanation of the pros and cons of dynamic keyword insertion, with advice on how and when to utilize the option in your AdWords bid management strategy.



So What is Dynamic Keyword Insertion, Anyway?

Dynamic keyword insertion allows you to dynamically insert a AdWords keyword from your Ad Group into your ad copy, if it triggers an ad for a searcher's query.

So if I have an Ad Group for my couch store that inludes keywords like:

  • couches
  • leather couches
  • best leather couches
  • etc.

With dynamic keyword insertion, I can show people who search for "couches" the word couches, people who search for "leather couches" that phrase, and so on.

With dynamic keyword insertion, I am inserting the keyword from my Ad Group that is triggered by a user's query.

Google defines it thusly:

Keyword insertion is an advanced feature that helps you provide users with more relevant ad text while using a single generic ad for multiple keywords. AdWords will insert individual keywords into the same ad text so that a user sees a distinct ad for their keyword search, if their keyword triggers one of your ad group keywords.

So, let's say we're selling furniture online. We have our Ad Group dedicated to couches. Most of the terms in our Ad Group have to do with couches, and we'd like to use dynamic keyword insertion to target each individual user query better. Here's how we'll input our ad to take advantage of dynamic keyword insertion:

 operator, as pictured.

Note the dynamic keyword insertion, which is highlighted. Three things to note:

  • The brackets are where the keyword will be displayed, assuming it fits - So, if the keyword is "couch" the headline will read "Great Prices on Couch".
  • You control capitalization - By capitalizing "KeyWord" in various ways you can control the way your ads are displayed
    • keyword="leather couches"
    • Keyword="Leather couches"
    • KeyWord="Leather Couches"
  • If the term is too long, the word or phrase after the colon will be inserted - You're limited to a certain number of characters on each line within a PPC ad (25 for the headline, 35 for the description lines). So, if a user typed in "leather couches" and you were focusing your AdWords bidding on that keyword in this Ad Group, the search engine would display your ad this way:

 With the dynamic insertion of keywords, if a user query is too long, your default text is inserted.

The Importance of the Keyword Insertion Option

Dynamic keyword insertion is important to your ad campaigns because it can be a valuable asset, and because it can get you into trouble! This option has the capacity to greatly increase click-through rate, if used properly. It can also get you sued, if used irresponsibly.

That said, there are some potential pitfalls to dynamic keyword insertion. Let's take a look at some of the pros and cons associated with this option:

Keyword Insertion Pros

  • More Specific Targeting - The beauty of dynamic keyword insertion is that it enables you to create an ad that contains text more specific to what the searcher typed in. People are much more likely to click on a headline that reflects more closely what they were searching for.
  • Bolded Text - Google bolds dynamically inserted terms; this makes your ad stand out, and will also help with click-through rate.

Keyword Insertion Cons

  • Keywords Can Be Long - According to a principal known as the long tail of search, most queries are seldom-searched for, and if you're doing comprehensive keyword research, your keyword list may reflect that. Some of your keywords may be longer than others (instead of couch you may get "leather couch", or "cheap leather couches that are comfortable"). In these instances you lose the value of dynamic keyword insertion, and are running your generic replacement for all of your ads.
  • Awkward Wording and Trademark Violations - We saw this in the example above. Even though it fit within the 25 characters, if we set up a broad matching option for "couches" and had the ad matched to "couch", we wound up with the following ad:

Dynamic keyword insertion can lead to awkward wording, as pictured.

Note the awkward-sounding "Great Prices on Couch" headline. These awkward ad combinations will sometimes encourage clicks from being humorous, but the odds for conversion are extremely low, leading to wasted spend. eBay in particular, is well known in the search marketing industry for misuing DKI, sometimes creating unintentionally humorous ads.

Dynamic Keyword Insertion & Trademark Violations

Worse yet, what if we were bidding on "Joe the competition's Couch Store"?

Let's say I set my headline as "KeyWord:Great Prices on Couches" and one of the keywords in my Ad Group was "Joe's Couch Store", which is the name of my competitor's store.

Dynamic Keyword Insertion can get you into tradmark violation issues, as pictured.

While it's legal to bid on this keyword, it's not legal to display "Joe's Couch Store" in the headline. DKI has gotten me into some legal hot water here. Obviously this wasn't a great time to use dynamic keyword insertion.

So, the next natural step in the tutorial is to recommend to you how you can implement dynamic keyword insertion properly.

How To Use Dynamic Keyword Insertion

The short answer is "sparingly". In the above example, we see the potential problems with using this tactic too liberally. You need to know exactly which keywords are in your Ad Groups before you implement this option, and should try to imagine them as the text for that ad. Ask yourself:

  • Does this make sense?
  • Is dynamic keyword insertion making me say anything I wouldn't want to normally?
  • Am I committing any trademark violations, or otherwise jeopordizing my business or my brand?

A DKI Alternative

Rather than creating ads that utilize dynamic keyword insertion, an even better alternative is to create closely segmented keyword groupings.

By creating a tightly knit keyword segmentation, you can create ad text that is:

  • Compelling
  • Natural Sounding
  • Highly Relevant to each keyword in your Ad Group

WordStream offers tools for precisely this purpose.

For instance, the software suggests to you intelligent, semantically similar segmentations. Let's see the various ways we can segment our couch grouping:

 better groupings, as pictured.

Now we have a very closely related keyword list:

A well aligned keyword list can be far more powerful than dynamic keyword insertion.

Here we see that having created the Couches->Leather group, we now have a list of keywords including "leather" and "couches". (To learn more about how WordStream can help in generating these keyword lists, see our keyword research and Web analytics solution pages.)

Now, we can create ad text that speaks directly to each of the keywords on our keyword list, without risking awkward wording or mismatched messages:

 here is an example.

Note that this ad talks specifically about leather couches, and speaks directly to the search queries within this ad group without relying on dynamic keyword insertion.

our dynamic keyword insertion tool

Instead of dynamically inserting a keyword, WordStream offers suggestions for ad text along with sophisticated grouping tools, then lets you create a compelling advertisement that will help both your click-through rate and your bottom line.

Start creating better targeted ad text today and learn more about how WordStream can improve your search campaign by:

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