Best practices for managing paid search campaigns are full of commonly held assumptions, many of which are more myth than fact—especially when it comes to SEM ad copy. This Myth Busters series tackles these misconceptions one blog post at a time. In this installment, we dispel the myth that dynamic keyword insertion is bad for generating conversions.


The myth

Depending on who you ask, some search marketers will tell you that DKI (dynamic keyword insertion) is bad for generating conversions.


The reality

Very rarely in search marketing is something universally good or bad. Depending on campaign goals, customer segment, historical performance, and many other factors, SEM tactics usually perform differently depending on the context. Boost Media has tested DKI extensively across many advertisers in varying verticals, and on nearly every type of campaign. We have learned some truths about DKI. Here are a few gems to share with you:


  • DKI tends to work best in long-tail ad groups. In an intensive analysis of retail advertisers, Boost found that long-tail ad groups tend to derive both click-through rate (CTR) and conversions-per-impression (CPI) lifts by using DKI while head-term ad groups tend to see a drop in CPI. This is likely because head term ad groups are optimized more frequently, and typically have a high degree of textual relevance. Long-tail ad groups are neglected and have more to gain from dynamic insertion.
  • DKI works best on exact match keywords. DKI inserts the triggering keyword into the ad, not the query typed by the customer. As a search marketer, you’ve probably seen your fair share of funky search queries matching to broad keywords. Inserting broad keywords into the ad often doesn’t make your ad more relatable to the user. Sometimes it simply creates ads that don’t make sense.
  • DKI can increase volume. Time and time again, we’ve seen that using DKI increases the impression volume of an ad. Direct response search marketers might argue that increased impression volume is a bad thing because it doesn’t necessarily lead to more revenue. But, consider this: An impression is not generated just because the search engine enters the ad into the auction. An ad has to win the auction to gain an impression. If the ad loses, no other ads are entered into that particular auction. As a result, using DKI to win more auctions and gain more impressions might just be what you need to improve the bottom line by increasing volume.


The opportunity

It’s unfair to say that DKI is universally good or bad. When used in the right context, it can help you gain impressions you might not otherwise win; improve your user experience and quality score in ad groups you don’t have time to optimize; and can otherwise lead to performance gains.


Where to go from here

Test DKI for yourself, but be careful to measure DKI performance separately between head-term ad groups and long-tail ad groups. Prioritize using DKI paired with exact match, long-tail ad groups. Avoid using DKI in ad groups containing misspelled keywords. Evaluate winning ads not just for conversion rates, but also for volume.

About Boost Media

Boost Media increases advertiser profitability by using a combination of humans and a proprietary software platform to drive increased ad relevance at scale.

The Boost marketplace comprises over 1,000 expert copywriters and image optimizers who compete to provide a diverse array of perspectives. Boost’s proprietary software identifies opportunities for creative optimization and drives performance using a combination of workflow tools and algorithms. Headquartered in San Francisco, the Boost Media optimization platform provides fresh, performance-driven creative in 12 localized languages worldwide.