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Dynamic Search Ads vs Standard Search Ads [Automation vs Control]

Standard Search Ads provide you predictability and control, while Dynamic Search Ads provide breadth and adaptability.

So which one is better?

In this comparison guide we’ll go into each ad type and then do the comparison of Dynamic Search Ads vs Standard Search Ads.

We won’t go into the setup process in this one, but we’ll link to Google’s guides that do.

Let’s get right into it!

What are Standard Search Ads?

Standard Search Ads, often simply referred to as Search Ads, are the backbone of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising on Google Ads. These are the text-based advertisements that appear on Google’s search results pages, typically marked with an ‘Ad’ label to distinguish them from organic search results.

Advertisers create these ads by selecting specific keywords they wish to target, crafting ad copy, and setting bids for each keyword, essentially competing to appear in the search results when users query those keywords.

Standard Search Ads are a tried-and-true method for engaging with potential customers who are actively searching for specific products or services. They require a hands-on approach but offer the precision and control that many marketers value.

Key Features of Standard Search Ads

Keyword Targeting: The fundamental aspect of Standard Search Ads is the ability to target specific keywords. Marketers research and choose keywords that are relevant to their products or services, bidding on these keywords to capture potential customer searches related to their business.

Ad Copy Creation: Each Standard Search Ad allows advertisers to write headlines and descriptions that will appear in the search results. This copy must not only be persuasive and relevant to the keywords targeted but also adhere to Google’s advertising policies. The ad copy is crucial as it directly influences both the click-through rate (CTR) and the overall effectiveness of the ad.

Manual Setup and Management: Standard Search Ads require manual setup, giving advertisers complete control over the keywords they target, the geographic location of their ads, the budget, and other variables. This hands-on approach allows for detailed management and optimization, essential for maximizing the return on investment (ROI) of ad spend.


Standard Search Ads offer several advantages:

  • Control: Advertisers have full control over every aspect of these ads, from keyword selection to budget allocation.
  • Precision: By carefully selecting keywords and crafting tailored ad text, marketers can precisely target their intended audience.
  • Immediate Visibility: Once created and approved, these ads can immediately start driving traffic to your website, providing a quick response to marketing efforts.


However, there are limitations to consider:

  • Time-Consuming: Managing Standard Search Ads can be time-consuming, as it involves constant monitoring and adjustment of keywords, ad copy, and bidding strategies.
  • Competitiveness: Highly competitive keywords can significantly increase costs, making it challenging for smaller businesses to compete against larger companies with more substantial advertising budgets.

Learn how to set up a search campaign

What are Dynamic Search Ads?

Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs) represent a more automated approach to search advertising within Google Ads. Unlike Standard Search Ads that rely on manually set keywords, DSAs use Google’s web crawling technology to automatically generate ads based on the content of your website.

This innovative approach allows DSAs to dynamically match user searches with the most relevant product or service page on your website, creating an ad headline and directing users to the appropriate landing page.

Dynamic Search Ads offer a powerful tool for advertisers seeking to streamline their campaign management while maintaining high levels of relevance and coverage.

They are best used by businesses that can maintain a robust and well-structured website, as the success of DSAs is intrinsically linked to the quality of the website content.

Key Features

Automated Headline Creation: DSAs automatically generate ad headlines to match user searches closely. These headlines are created based on the content of the specific web page on your website that Google deems most relevant to the search query.

Dynamic Targeting: Instead of relying on a predefined list of keywords, DSAs scan your website content and use this information to determine when to show your ads. This means ads are shown based on the actual content of your website, making DSAs particularly useful for websites with a large inventory or a diverse range of products and services.

Efficiency in Campaign Management: By reducing the need for constant keyword updates and manual ad adjustments, DSAs can significantly save time and effort in campaign management, especially for large-scale advertisers.


Dynamic Search Ads offer several compelling advantages:

  • Broad Coverage: DSAs can help fill in the gaps where specific keywords might have been overlooked, ensuring that potential opportunities for visibility are not missed.
  • Time Savings: The automated nature of DSAs reduces the workload involved in managing large ad campaigns, particularly for businesses with extensive and frequently changing product lines.
  • Improved Relevance: Since DSAs are directly tied to the content of your website, they often provide high relevance in ad targeting, which can improve the user experience and increase the likelihood of conversions.

Potential Challenges

However, DSAs also come with challenges that need careful consideration:

  • Less Control: The automation in DSAs means advertisers have less control over exactly which searches trigger their ads. This can sometimes lead to ads appearing for irrelevant searches if the website content is not well-optimized.
  • Dependency on Website Content: The effectiveness of DSAs is heavily dependent on the quality and structure of the website’s content. Poorly organized or outdated content can lead to less effective ads.

Best Use Cases

Dynamic Search Ads are particularly effective in certain scenarios:

  • Large and Varied Product Inventories: Businesses with large online stores benefit from DSAs as they automatically adjust to include new products or changes.
  • Seasonal Product Lines: For retailers with seasonal changes in inventory, DSAs can dynamically adapt to the shifting focus of the website.
  • Supplementing Standard Search Ads: DSAs can be used in conjunction with Standard Search Ads to cover any potential gaps in keyword-based campaigns, ensuring comprehensive market coverage.

Google’s official documentation on how to set up Dynamic Search Ads

Dynamic Search Ads vs Standard Search Ads Comparison

Dynamic Search Ads vs Standard Search Ads Comparison

When choosing between Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs) and Standard Search Ads, understanding their distinct approaches and benefits can guide advertisers in optimizing their search marketing strategies.

This section outlines key differences in targeting capabilities, setup and management ease, flexibility and control, as well as their performance efficiency in various marketing scenarios.

Targeting Capabilities

Standard Search Ads rely on predefined keywords selected by the advertiser. This method allows for precise targeting, as ads are displayed based on the specific keywords that are manually chosen to match the search queries of potential customers. This precision ensures that the ads are highly relevant when the chosen keywords are well-researched and effectively align with the user’s search intent.

Dynamic Search Ads, on the other hand, use Google’s algorithms to scan the content of a website and automatically generate ads that match users’ search queries with relevant pages on your site. This method can capture a wider range of search queries, including those that might not have been anticipated when setting up traditional keyword-based campaigns. While this broadens reach, it may sometimes include less relevant matches if the website content is not tightly focused.

Ease of Setup and Management

Standard Search Ads require a detailed setup process where each aspect of the campaign from keyword selection, bid management, and ad copy creation must be manually handled. This gives advertisers granular control over their campaigns but also demands continuous monitoring and adjustments to maintain performance.

Dynamic Search Ads offer a more streamlined setup experience since they automatically create headlines and landing pages. This can significantly reduce the time spent on campaign management, particularly beneficial for advertisers with large inventories or frequently changing product lines. However, the reduced manual input might lead to concerns over losing some level of control over how and when the ads appear.

Flexibility and Control

Standard Search Ads provide the highest level of control, allowing advertisers to specify exactly what keywords will trigger their ads, the geographic locations in which the ads will appear, and the exact wording of their ads. This control is crucial for campaigns where messaging needs to be tightly crafted to fit the brand voice or specific promotional offers.

Dynamic Search Ads lack the same level of precise control since ads are generated based on website content and the interpretation of user intent by Google’s algorithms. While they adjust more dynamically to content changes and user behavior, they might not always align perfectly with specific campaign goals without adequate oversight and adjustments.

Performance and Efficiency

Standard Search Ads are generally more predictable in terms of performance, as they depend on the advertiser’s ability to optimize keyword choices and ad copy based on known performance metrics. They can be highly effective in campaigns where bidding strategies and keyword management are actively optimized.

Dynamic Search Ads can be more efficient in capturing additional traffic that might be missed by standard campaigns, especially for websites with vast product arrays or complex service offerings. They can also adapt quickly to changes in inventory or to new trends without needing manual updates, which might provide a competitive edge in rapidly changing markets.

Standard Search Ads offer predictability and control, ideal for targeted campaigns with specific objectives. Dynamic Search Ads provide breadth and adaptability, suitable for extensive inventories and minimizing management overhead.

Choosing Between Dynamic and Standard Search Ads

Deciding whether to use Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs) or Standard Search Ads involves evaluating your specific business needs, the nature of your product or service, your marketing goals, and the resources you have available for managing your ad campaigns.

This section provides guidelines to help you make an informed decision based on these criteria.

Consider Your Campaign Goals

Direct Sales vs Broad Market Coverage:

  • Standard Search Ads are ideal if your goal is to drive direct sales from specific keywords that you know are highly relevant to your products or services. They work well when you can clearly define what you are selling and identify the terms potential customers are using.
  • Dynamic Search Ads may be the better choice if your aim is to cover a broader market. This is particularly effective for businesses with large and diverse product ranges or rapidly changing inventories where it is impractical to continuously update keywords.

Assess Your Website Content

Quality and Organization of Website Content:

  • DSAs rely heavily on the content of your website. If your site is well-organized, with clear descriptions and an intuitive structure, DSAs can effectively generate relevant ads that are likely to convert. However, if your site content is poor or outdated, DSAs might not perform well.
  • With Standard Search Ads, the quality of the website content is less directly crucial since you are manually creating and testing ad copy based on chosen keywords.

Resource Availability for Campaign Management

Time and Expertise:

  • Managing Standard Search Ads requires more hands-on involvement. You need to research keywords, write and test different ad copies, and manage bids. This requires a significant investment in time and a certain level of expertise in search engine marketing.
  • Dynamic Search Ads require less day-to-day management once they are set up, as they automatically adjust the ads based on the content of your website. This can be a significant advantage for businesses with limited marketing resources.

Determine Your Need for Control

Control Over Ad Placements and Messages:

  • If maintaining tight control over every aspect of how and when your ads are displayed is important, Standard Search Ads give you that flexibility. You can specify exact keywords, control bid strategies, and fine-tune your ad copy according to performance data.
  • Dynamic Search Ads offer less control over exact keyword targeting since ads are triggered based on Google’s interpretation of your website content and user queries. This might be less desirable for campaigns where brand messaging needs to be tightly controlled or is highly sensitive.

Integration with Other Marketing Activities

Complementarity with Other Campaigns:

  • Consider how these ad types integrate with your other online marketing activities. Standard Search Ads can be closely coordinated with other keyword-driven marketing such as SEO and content marketing.
  • Dynamic Search Ads might be used effectively to complement these efforts by capturing traffic on variations of search terms you haven’t specifically targeted but are still relevant.

Best Practices for Using Dynamic and Standard Search Ads

Optimizing your use of Google Ads requires not just choosing the right ad type, but also implementing best practices to ensure the highest efficiency and effectiveness of your campaigns.

Best Practices for Using Standard Search Ads

Keyword Research and Selection:

  • Conduct Thorough Research: Use tools like Google Keyword Planner to find high-value keywords that are relevant to your products or services. Focus on keywords that your target audience is using to search for solutions that your business offers.
  • Use Negative Keywords: Regularly update your negative keyword list to exclude irrelevant search terms, reducing wasted spend and improving campaign relevancy.

Ad Copy Optimization:

  • Highlight Benefits and Features: Create compelling ad copies that clearly communicate the unique benefits and features of your product or service. Use strong call-to-actions (CTAs) that encourage users to click through.
  • A/B Testing: Regularly test different headlines and descriptions to see which combinations perform best. Use the data from these tests to continually refine and improve your ad copy.

Bid Management:

  • Adjust Bids Based on Performance: Monitor the performance of your campaigns and adjust bids accordingly to maximize return on investment. Consider using automated bidding strategies that optimize conversions based on your set goals.

Best Practices for Using Dynamic Search Ads

Website Optimization:

  • Ensure Content Quality: Since DSAs rely on your website content to generate ads, it is crucial to ensure that your web pages are clearly written and relevant to your products or services. Ensure that titles and descriptions on your site are SEO-optimized.
  • Structured Data: Use structured data markup to help Google better understand the content of each page and improve the accuracy of your DSAs.

Targeting and Exclusions:

  • Page Targeting: Specify which pages or categories of your site should trigger ads to appear. This helps avoid showing ads for pages that may not convert well, such as contact pages or regulatory information.
  • Use Exclusions: Actively manage exclusions in your DSA campaigns to prevent your ads from showing for certain products or categories that are less profitable or irrelevant.

Performance Monitoring and Adjustments:

  • Regular Reviews: Regularly review the search terms your DSAs are generating ads for. Add irrelevant terms to your negative keywords list to refine targeting and improve campaign performance.
  • Adjust Content Strategy: Based on the performance insights, adjust your website content strategy to enhance areas that are performing well and address those that are not.


So, will you opt for the precise control of Standard Search Ads or the broad coverage and ease of Dynamic Search Ads?

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Michael Schroder

Michael Schroder

Michael Schroder is a Google Ads and SaaS marketing consultant. He has been managing $200k-$300k monthly ad spend and has worked with 200+ SaaS companies. The thing that makes him unique is his data-led approach and his focus on SaaS businesses.