Oct 20, 2011 at 7:00am ET by Pamela Parker
Google is opening wider a beta test of Dynamic Search Ads, an interesting new type of AdWords ad for larger advertisers that eliminates the need for keywords.
With this ad type, designed for retailers or other advertisers with large, often-changing inventory, Google automatically generates ad copy — based on the advertiser’s template — by looking at the content in the advertiser’s Web site. Google also automatically displays the ad in response to search terms it thinks are a good match, without the advertiser having to select keywords. Google has been using a similar no-keywords approach in its program for small local advertisers, AdWords Express.
For Dynamic Search Ads, advertisers input their Web site URL or the URL of a range of pages on their site — say, a retailer wanted to promote their women’s clothing — and select a bid price based on the value of that category to them. Google then continually crawls the Web site so it knows when inventory changes, and can theoretically respond with relevant ads more quickly than the marketing team that’s manually creating keywords and ads. The system is also designed to keep on top of changes in the types of queries people are performing — Google says 16% of searches every day are new.
In an effort to keep this from impinging on advertisers’ existing campaigns, the system will hold back the dynamically generated ad in favor of advertiser-created copy, if the advertiser already has a campaign targeting the specific search term.
“We want to make sure it doesn’t affect keyword campaigns,” Baris Gultekin, director of AdWords product management, told me. “This is purely incremental.”
Gultekin says the company will provide advertisers with reporting on search terms that generated clicks, the matched destination pages and ad headlines generated, average CPC, clicks and conversions. Advertisers may optimize by adjusting a max CPC bid.
The new ad type has been in development for two and a half years, and “a couple hundred” advertisers across a variety of verticals have already been testing it. Gultekin says advertisers on average are seeing 5-10% increase in conversions with a positive ROI.
One advertiser in particular — ApartmentHomeLiving.com, a real estate Web site with constantly changing inventory — says it saw a 50% increase in conversions at an average cost-per-conversion that’s 73% less than their normal search ads. The company is already a seasoned search marketer with campaigns of up to 15 million keywords.
Dynamic Search Ads are available in all languages and all countries currently, but only to advertisers in the limited beta. The company is soliciting inquiries from customers that might be interested in participating in the beta in order to widen its reach.
About The Author: Pamela Parker is a contributing editor for Search Engine Land. She’s a well-respected authority on digital marketing, having reported and written on the subject since 1998, including a stint as managing editor of ClickZ. She’s also worked to help monetize independent publishers’ sites at Federated Media Publishing. She blogs about media and marketing at The River and about cooking, gardening and parenthood at Free Range. She can be found on Twitter as @pamelaparker. See more articles by Pamela Parker