The Digital Advertiser’s Complete Guide to Dynamic Keyword Insertion (Examples)

The Digital Advertiser’s Complete Guide to Dynamic Keyword Insertion (Examples)

Last updated on by Ted Vrountas in Google Ads

As an advertiser, you know the power of personalization. So do most in the industry. Nearly all marketers — 96% — agree that the tactic advances the customer relationship. There’s no doubt about it: The more personal an ad is, the more relevant it is to the consumer.

But if that’s the case, then why do we see so many impersonal ads?

It’s not because advertisers and marketers are forgoing personalization. It’s just that it’s a hard tactic to scale.

According to research from Adobe, it takes 17 hours to create a single piece of short-form content or ad format, on average, and about 27 hours to create a single piece of long-form content.

personalized content top barriers

For personalization, one ad or post-click landing page will not do. You need at least one per segment. Time, cost, and technology are all barriers to scaling the tactic. Helping marketers overcome it is a technology from Google, called Dynamic Keyword Insertion.

What is dynamic keyword insertion?

Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) is a Google Ads feature that allows advertisers to create text ads which automatically update themselves to match a user’s search terms. This feature enables ads to show not just for a particular keyword, but for variations of that keyword, offering the campaign a potential boost in reach.

dynamic keyword insertion desktop example

dynamic keyword insertion mobile example

How does dynamic keyword insertion work?

Search campaigns in Google Ads are based on keywords: when the user searches a particular keyword term, it should return relevant ads. Searching “marketing agency San Francisco” should return results for marketing agencies in San Francisco. That much, we know.

We also know that there isn’t one term users search to find a particular product.
For example, someone searching for a CRM software might search “CRM software.” However, they might also search for lead management, or customer relationship management, customer management, or countless other variations of the term.

With a piece of code implanted into your ad text, you can enable your ad to show up for those search variations. To illustrate, Google uses a candy store as a hypothetical:

For example, let's say you're running a campaign to advertise your candy store and you have an ad group that promotes your chocolate candy products. The snippet of code that you'll insert in your ad text might look like the following: {KeyWord:Chocolate}. Doing this means that when a keyword can't be inserted in your ad, we'll insert Chocolate instead.

After that code is inserted, if someone searches one of your keywords, Google will show the version of your ad that is most relevant. So, with the headline {KeyWord:Chocolate}, if they search “dark chocolate bar,” “sugar-free chocolate,” or “gourmet chocolate truffles,” the ad may look like these:

Google dynamic keyword insertion differences

In each case, the ads provide a level of personalization that, without the feature, would only be possible with several campaigns. With DKI, an advertiser can achieve a high level of relevance through one.

Even when your keywords aren’t matched, like in the case of the last search term “gourmet chocolate truffles,” an ad will return the most relevant ad possible. In this case, that’s an ad for “Chocolate,” because “gourmet chocolate truffles” is too long to fit in a headline.

Why use dynamic keyword insertion?

It’s pretty easy to see the major benefits of Dynamic Keyword Insertion. They are:

  • Achieve personalization at scale: Personalization is a tactic we know is powerful, but it’s also very hard to achieve for companies with a large audience. Just over 9 out of 10 companies acknowledge that they need to be better at personalization.

While account-based marketers have the benefit of targeting only a few big customers, most others have tens, hundreds of thousands and beyond. And for each segment, personalization need be achieved to create the highest level of relevance — both on the ad and the post-click landing page. Dynamic keyword insertion offers a scalable way to reach countless searchers based on their exact terms.

  • Do more with less: Of the obvious benefits to using DKI, the potential to save resources is nearly as great as personalization. When data shows the average piece of content or ad format takes 15 to 30 hours to create, this offers marketers the ability to create many ads for different keywords all from a single place. In a WordStream blog post, Erin Sagin imagines an ecommerce brand that sells printer ink:

When it comes to ink, users tend to search for the specific SKU number that fits in their printer. Since they have super-specific needs, they are looking for ads that match these needs. Therefore, if an advertiser serves a generic ad, the searcher is unlikely to click. On the flip side, e-commerce ink stores may sell hundreds of variations of ink and it is challenging to create an ad group for every SKU number.

Beyond SKU numbers, there are countless uses for dynamic keyword insertion. Instead of creating many ad groups to cover a particular keyword, you can use DKI to create one campaign that dynamically adjusts based on the terms being searched.

  • Boost your odds of earning a click-through: The primary goal of dynamic keyword insertion is to help boost personalization without draining company resources. But, ultimately, the goal of personalization is to boost relevance. And with relevance comes greater odds of earning a click-through. In one campaign from the team at Sem Booster, ads using DKI were shown to outperform those that did not use the tactic. Out of a total 846,000 impressions divided between the two, non-DKI ads generated a click-through rate of 4.59%, while DKI ads earned a 7.49% CTR.
  • Boost Quality Score: While not a direct effector of Ad Rank, Quality Score is the best way to measure the potential placement of your ad campaign on search engine results pages. The better your Quality Score, the better position your ad is likely to be in. And one of the major components of Quality Score is relevance. With better relevance comes a better chance your ads rank higher on SERPs.

The do’s and don’ts of using DKI

Of course, while there are benefits to using Dynamic Keyword Insertion, they only present themselves when the feature is used correctly. Here are some things you should and should not do when creating campaigns using DKI:

Do

  • Create a style guide for your ad creative. The way your ad text shows up depends on how you insert the code into your creative. If you use Title case, in which every first letter of your keywords will be capitalized, stick with title case. Using Sentence case or Lowercase will only create inconsistency between your ads.
  • Take advantage of all the places you can customize. With DKI, it’s not just a headline you can make dynamic, but other parts of the ad. That includes the description and URL. The headline is the most visible, but it’s likely the text and URL have a positive impact on KPIs when combined with the headline. Test this for yourself.

dynamic keyword insertion description text example

  • Make sure your ads make sense. The concept of DKI is simple, but it’s also easy to screw up. It’s not uncommon for an advertiser to punch several keyword phrases in and run them without checking to make sure they make sense in context. Make sure you plug all your keywords into your ad and read it aloud to yourself to ensure that, grammatically, each one makes sense.
  • Create matching post-click landing pages for DKI ads. It’s not enough to create relevant advertisements using Dynamic Keyword Insertion. You have to create post-click landing pages to match them. If you don’t, and you drive a personalized ad to a generic post-click page, you’re creating a gap in personalization. You’re delivering relevance with the ad, and then wiping it all out with a bad landing page experience. This isn’t just theory, either. The team at KlientBoost saw a big improvement in CPA and conversion rate when they matched their ads and landing pages:

All this is great, but is there the data to back up that DKIs work? Here’s a look at a campaign where we have it filtered to show only ads that contain “kw” in the final URL which indicates the page was a dynamic keyword insertion. As you can see in the screenshot below, compared to the rest of the ads in this specific campaign, CPA is almost $100 less, and conversion rate from 4.17% to a 7.67%.

Google dynamic keyword results

Where this was once a tedious drain of resources, today, it’s possible to scale the personalization of landing page creation beyond what Google can enable. With post-click automation, match your ads to landing pages, and easily create keyword-matched landing page groups all from one place, with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Don’t

  • Use DKI to target competitor keywords. While it’s highly likely you’ll be bidding on some keywords that your competitors are; you should not be using DKI for their company name. This can easily land you in hot water with Google. The company has a strict trademark policy, and brand names may violate it.
  • Use DKI for broad match keywords. The appeal of DKI is its relevance. But, when you use broad match keywords, you lose control of the level of personalization needed to earn a click. Your DKI keywords should not be broad. They should be highly specific. And, going back to the previous point, you should read through them to ensure they all make sense within your ad. Otherwise, it will have the opposite of its intended effect.
  • Use DKI with single word keywords. Google gives you plenty of room to work with, so, why waste space with a single word keyword? Relevance matters. Get descriptive and specific, as these keywords are likely to be the ones driving action beyond the ad.

How to set up dynamic keyword insertion

When setting up DKI, you’ll have to insert some code into your ad. You can insert the code into your ad’s headline, description lines, or URL fields. This code will enable the ad to adjust depending on the search. You can do it one of two ways. According to Google, here’s how to set it up:

The guided way

1. When you’re entering ad text, type a brace ( { ) and select Keyword insertion from the drop-down menu.

2. In the “Default text” section, type the word or words you want to appear when the text can’t be replaced by a keyword.

3. Choose how you want your keywords to be capitalized:

  • With “Title case,” the first letter of all your keywords will be capitalized. Instead of “Dark chocolate,” or “dark chocolate,” your keyword would appear as “Dark Chocolate.”
  • With “Sentence case” just the first letter of the first keyword will be capitalized. Instead of “Dark Chocolate” or “dark chocolate,” your keyword would appear like this: “Dark chocolate.”
  • With lower case: No letters will be capitalized. For example, “dark chocolate.”

4. Click Set.

The manual way

1. When you’re entering ad text, insert {keyword:default text} where you want a keyword to appear. Replace “default text” with the word or words you want to appear when the text can’t be replaced by a keyword.

2. Capitalize keyword depending on how you want your keyword text to be capitalized.

  • To keep your keyword lowercase, use keyword. For example, “dark chocolate.”
  • For sentence capitalization, use Keyword. For example, “Dark chocolate.”
  • For title capitalization, use KeyWord. For example, “Dark Chocolate.”
  • For all caps and then title capitalization, use KEYWord. For example, “USA Chocolate.”
  • For title capitalization and then all caps, use KeyWORD. For example, “Chocolate Made In USA”

3. Make sure your default text is short enough to keep your ad within the character limits.

4. Avoid special characters (like “é”) in the display or landing page URL.

5. Save your ad.

Common problems with dynamic keyword insertion

While Dynamic Keyword Insertion enables ads to be flexible, unfortunately, like any ad, users must adhere to a much less flexible set of rules. If DKI isn’t working for you, any of the following may be the reason:

  1. Too many characters: Ads can’t contain more than 30 characters in each headline, more than 80 characters in the description line, or more than 15 characters in the URL path. Learn more about character limits for text ads.
  2. Nonsense: Inserted keywords need to make sense in context.
  3. Incorrect grammar: Make sure each of your keywords agrees with your syntax.
  4. Misspelled words: Google Ads accepts misspelled keywords, but can’t show ads with misspelled words.
  5. Landing page doesn’t work: Make sure your landing page URL can support dynamic text, or leave keyword insertion out of your landing page URL.
  6. Adult content: Keyword insertion shouldn’t be used when ads promote sexual content or adult material.
  7. Dynamic Search Ads: Keyword insertion isn’t available for Dynamic Search Ads because they don’t use keyword targeting. If you’ve set up keyword insertion with Dynamic Search Ads, the default keyword insertion text will be included in your ad description.

Get more on personalization

Brands are underperforming when it comes to personalization. Dynamic keyword insertion is just one of many potential solutions to many problems. Learn more about those problems and how to solve them with the Instapage Personalization Guide.

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Ted Vrountas

by Ted Vrountas

Ted Vrountas is a content writer at Instapage who hates most marketing content. As a human among marketers, his goal is to write words people actually want to read.

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