Google Transforms Dynamic Search Ads: Say Goodbye to Keywords!
Raise your hand if you’re a control freak?
Perhaps you’re hesitant to admit it, but most PPC employees are. It’s in your nature to want granular control of your keyword lists, ad copy, bidding strategies, etc.
Why? Most likely due to that one time you wasted 50% of your company's monthly marketing budget because you were a PPC newbie unaware of how match types or negative keywords worked or the fact that you were running your Chicago storefront ads in France. Whatever it is, we’ve all made dumb mistakes when it comes to paid search, which has created this distrust and guarded approach when it comes to managing an AdWords account.
For all the control freak PPCers out there, BEWARE: On Monday, July 27, Google announced a complete redesign of Dynamic Search Ads (DSA’s), which uses artificial intelligence to take keyword management out of the equation. WHAT!?! No keyword control? How will ads be determined relevant? Is this just a ploy for Google to trick advertisers into spending more money?
Deep breaths, deep breaths. Call me an optimist, but I don’t think Google released these improved DSA’s to eat advertisers' budgets without providing them return. I encourage you to read on before dismissing these new DSA’s as too risky.
What’s the Deal with These New Dynamic Search Ads?
Let’s take a step back to review the old DSA’s. Dynamic Search Ads have been around since October of 2011, and they’ve allowed advertisers to target customers using Google’s organic web crawling technology to index your website and determine which searches to show ads for. When a search is relevant to the content of your site, Google automatically creates an ad, with the headline and landing page chosen based on the content of the page on your site. So, this keyword-less approach to AdWords isn’t exactly new.
What is new? Well, now rather than simply crawling and indexing your website, the new DSA will organize your website content into recommended categories, based on the products and services your offer, to better target your ads. For example, if you sell furniture, previously DSA would only trigger ads for a relevant landing page, but now categories will further refine to show additional, more specific categories; for example, office furniture, bedroom furniture, dining room furniture, etc.
Will I Lose Control?
Just the opposite! The nice thing about this redesign of dynamic search ads is that transparency was one of the main things considered when remodeling the tool. Now once categories have been chosen, advertisers will have the ability to preview and control how their ads will show, the pages a search will land on, as well as example search queries that will trigger the ad. A recommended bid will also be provided based on the performance of existing keywords targeting similar queries. To keep an even more granular level of control advertisers can do the following:
- Utilize negative keywords to ensure you’re not competing with yourself on the search keywords you might be bidding on. Kirk Williams explains with well on Twitter…
- Combine DSA with RLSA’s (remarketing lists for search ads). This will of course limit your reach, but it will also ensure that DSA ads are only showing for people who have previously visited your site, therefore it’s a bit less risky than targeting a new lead, unfamiliar with your brand.
- Bid manually. Google advises elsewise, but if you’re looking for more control, make sure you go into your advanced options under the additional settings of your DSA campaign to have the highest level of control over your spend.
Is Google Killing the Keyword?
According to Google, 15% of searches on Google are unique and have never been searched for before. So why wouldn’t they kill the keyword? Google’s been hinting at this for quite some time. First eliminating the old exact and phrase match types, shopping ads that use categories over keywords, evolving identity-based marketing functionality on display, and with these keyword-less DSA’s it seems that keyword bidding just may be joining Google+ in the graveyard…
Back in the day marketers would spend hours upon weeks creating extensive keyword lists, utilizing every match type possible with tiered bidding to get optimal performance. Nowadays most savvy PPCers are aware that a small percentage of their keywords are generating the majority of their business, so the focus has naturally shifted away from a keyword packed AdWords strategy, and more towards optimizing to get the most out of those two or three keywords that actually generate revenue.
So, are keywords dying? I’d say probably not. At SMX Advanced in May of 2015, Jerry Dischler, VP Google VP of Product Management, confirmed that keywords are not going anywhere, but there is going to be a shift to a less keyword-heavy approach. “Selecting 250 million keywords can be painfully time-consuming,” he says. “There’s a huge advantage to structure-based data rather than keywords.”
Ok, so keywords are not dying YET, but DSA’s take the task of managing keyword lists out of the equation. With the redesign of dynamic search ads, control freak advertisers now have a higher level of transparency and regulation, so why not try them out? Check out Google’s Help Center for additional information on setup.
What are your thoughts on these new DSA’s?