DSA & DKI Campaigns: Common Mistakes You Should Avoid

OnlineSales.ai Blog

Search ads are almost always the first ads to go live for any account. No other channel serves users with intent higher than search, which is why the internet is abundantly populated with literature about how to set up different types of search ads.

However, as a wise man says, if there’s something equally important as knowing what to do, it’s knowing what not to do. In this post, we are going to list down ways you can royally mess up your search ads, to keep from avoiding making those mistakes.

At this point, you’re probably wondering what could you possibly be doing wrong with your expanded text ads that you don’t already know about.

And you’d be right – expanded text ads are pretty much considered common knowledge in the world of PPC marketing. You could probably create some while you’re half asleep.

In this post, we are not going to focus on Expanded Text Ads but Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) and Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) ads.

1. Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) – Time to Cover All Bases

This is generally the thought behind choosing to ride the DSA wagon. The hard fact is that no matter how meticulously managed your regular search campaigns are, they are never going to be enough to turn all those idiomatic stones.

A. The first mistake

The first mistake that majorly tanks a DSA campaign is failing to do proper negatives. When we say negatives, we mean negatives with respect to keywords as well as targeting.

Negating every single keyword from your regular search campaigns should be a reflex action after setting up a DSA campaign.

Also readOptimize Your CTRs With Negative Keywords

If you have lately been seeing higher CPCs on your account, chances are you forgot this thumb rule of DSA campaigns and now they’re competing internally with your regular ones.

Less obvious and more obscure is the error of not negating the pages and/or categories that won’t directly benefit you. For instance, you don’t want to be paying 10 bucks cost per click to sell items valued at around 5.

B. The second mistake

This mistake is related to the messaging of your dynamic search ads. But hey! didn’t I just go through the pain of creating a DSA campaign so that it would just automatically create my ads?

Marketers sort out their targeting and usually take the back seat when it comes to the ads. This is a common mistake.

Sure, the headline is dynamically generated, but based on your campaigns targeting you can very well control the two description lines.

Specific targeting and generic messaging might cause poor CTRs, whereas generic targeting and specific messaging might cause higher bounce rates.


This DSA ad shown above looks perfectly fine. But here’s the catch; if you use this ad targeting all web pages of a website that sells all kinds of sports equipment, your ad-copies are going to attract a lot less clicks since the messaging would be misleading.

On the other hand, if you ran it targeting only web pages related to bikes you would have a perfect dynamic search ad.

Lastly (this might sound like a buzzkill), don’t be over ambitious with DSA. It is designed to pull data from a multitude of pages and will not give you your desired results if your website has limited content.

Specific targeting and generic messaging might cause poor CTRs, whereas generic targeting and specific messaging might cause higher bounce rates.

2. Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) – The Double Edged Sword

Dynamic Keyword Insertion is arguably one of the coolest features Google introduced to search ads. Not only are they cool because they let you insert search queries into your ad copies dynamically, getting those fancy bolded ads on the search page, but also because if you mess these up there’s a greater likelihood of them being supremely hilarious.

Who cares about high cost per lead if you’re getting a good laugh out of them, right? More often than not your clients are going to disagree.

Here are some common pitfalls of using DKI in ads:

A. Syntax is important

You can’t always run to the tech team whenever you encounter the tiniest bit of code. As silly as it might sound a lot of advertisers mess up by entering the DKI code wrong on their ad copies. The result is a tiny mistake being displayed to the whole world wide web.


B. The world is not your oyster when it comes to DKI

Your keyword feed needs to highly targeted and implicitly relevant. I have seen advertisers plug the entire dictionary in their DKI keyword feed, and the results are either disastrous or downright hilarious, depending on which side of the ad you are on.

I’ve seen ads that claim to sell love, a wife, perpetual motion machines and even Obama. All these – results of unsupervised abuse of DKI ads.


C. Be careful of inserting your target keywords.

Just because you can dynamically insert the keyword in every part of your ad (Headlines, description etc.) doesn’t mean you should be. The resultant ad copies are repetitive and wasting characters that can otherwise be used to convey more details about your offerings.

That being said, don’t underuse your characters either. Remember that DKI can be used in combination with static keywords to generate full-fledged ad copies that use all of the characters.


If you are mindful of all these points, your good DKI ads would look something like this example:


DKI can be used in combination with static keywords to generate full-fledged ad copies that use all of the characters.

That brings us to the end of the discussion. We have touched base on a lot of malpractices prevalent in the domain of dynamic ads. I hope that this post has not made skeptics of you all.

The bottom line is that these are some powerful tools introduced by Google for the advertisers’ benefit. The gravest mistake would not be using them wrong, but not using them at all.

So try them out! Go ahead and experiment. Maybe you will find a way of using them like never seen before.

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Abhishek Hasktak
Senior Business Analyst at Merkle-Sokrati | Google PPC Marketing

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