Dynamic Ads... the verdict so far

By Greenlight | 09 Sep 2011

It seems such a long-time ago since Google first announced the launch of Keywordless Ads or as they were adeptly renamed, Dynamic Ads. Some asked why all the fuss? Others mockingly coined the latest Adwords innovation 'the death of the paid search agency'. And who can blame advertisers for asking why they would need the expertise of an intermediary if neither they nor their hired-help needed to do anything? However, what results have Dynamic Ads reaped so far?

Before we delve into this, let's look at the key reason Google introduced keywordless ads - The Long-Tail. According to Google, 20% of all searches have not been searched in the last 6 months or often never. 70% of US search queries do not have an exact matched keyword, and the proportion of queries with > 3 words is rising (which does seem hard to believe considering Google's other innovations, 'Suggest' and 'Instant'). So if all 3 of these are true, how is the pay per click (PPC) advertiser expected to keep up with the ever expanding long-tail? Let's look at what the perceived gains were initially:

  • Significant traffic increases - or should that be significant relevant traffic increases given the next benefit?
  • Improved return on investment (ROI)
  • Appearing for specific, often unique search queries, serving a highly relevant ad
  • An evolving product - particularly whilst the product remains in beta
  • Thinking outside the box - an alternative Search Query Report - users can add important ROI driving keywords to their accounts which they may not have considered in their original keyword research and will not have matched for with their current activity
  • Highly relevant ads appearing for highly relevant search terms - if Dynamic Ads were ever to impact Quality Score (QS) in the future then the resulting click-through rate (CTR) would, in theory, improve QS.

  We looked at the projected gains. The outcome thus far:

  • Relevant search queries serving irrelevant ad text linking to irrelevant pages - leading to a very low CTR and a low conversion rate
  • Low CTR - this seemed particularly disappointing given so many of the search terms were related to brand - fortunately they have no impact on the QS of the account
  • Low traffic - despite the promise of "significant increases in traffic", traffic levels were fairly minimal
  • Cheap cost per click (CPC) - the traffic driven was fairly cheap
  • Additional keywords - many of the keywords rendered from the campaign, we then added as permanent fixtures to our regular keyword campaigns

Whilst I may have summarised the results so far with a negative slant, I still think there is definite potential with this product. If run in parallel to your standard campaigns, Dynamic Ad campaigns could definitely support your current activity, providing Google addresses the relevancy issue, ensuring the three elements search term, ad text and landing page, are all relevant to the specific content on your site and to each other! The product could also have more impact on a new account, where there is still great potential for growth. The main account we tested this with is several years old and has a lot of history. Therefore, we probably have the majority of areas covered, with less room for new opportunities. A newer account could benefit from the Dynamic Ad campaigns covering the areas that may have been missed during the build process, and then they could be added to the main account, effectively using the product as an advanced Search Query Report.

Death of the paid search agency now seems a little overzealous. However, if improvements were made to the product, this could definitely be a solid addition to the PPC advertiser's armoury.