Automation is an odd creature. It usually seems, at first glance, that automating a process can make things easier, simpler and faster.
But often, once an automated process is in place, trouble spots pop up.

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Copywriting With Google's "Dynamic Keyword Insertion" Tool

Make money with Ads by Google

By Karon Thackston Copyright 2006

Automation is an odd creature. It usually seems, at first glance, that automating a process can make things easier, simpler and faster. But often, once an automated process is in place, trouble spots pop up.

This is sometimes the case when looking at the copywriting aspect of Google's dynamic keyword insertion tool.

What Is "Dynamic Keyword Insertion"?

In case you're unfamiliar with dynamic keyword insertion ("DKI"), it's a feature of Google's AdWords program. It is often used for large campaigns in order to automatically insert the keyword into the headline of an ad.

Truly, it's a lifesaver for many pay-per-click (PPC) ad managers who have to stay on top of thousands of ads every day. It's all done with a simple syntax command: {keyword:_______}.

From a timesaving standpoint, this is a wonder tool that has rescued PPC managers from the mind-numbing chore of typing the same keywords over and over. From an economic point-of-view, DKI *can* (not always) perform well enough to make it a viable option for larger campaigns. But what happens with regard to copywriting and eye tracking?

See It and Click It


The human eye is normally drawn to things that are unusual. Things that look out of place or different get noticed far more than things that blend in. For instance, on a page full of black text and black & white photographs, a small red square in the bottom corner will get focused on almost immediately. Why? Because it is completely different than everything else around it.

This same principle applies when considering your copywriting strategy for AdWords. When using DKI, you'll want to keep your eye on the results pages. Why? We've all heard that using the keyphrase in the headline pulls better. It does. most of the time. There is an exception, however. This exception is what you'll be watching.

In fact, a study done last year by Enquiro, Did-It and Eyetools tracked users' interactions with the Google search results page. It found that surfers normally reviewed the page in an F formation. They would scan vertically down the left side of the page and then over to the right (where paid ads are) *IF* something caught their attention. That's the point we'll explore in this article.

In order to get clicks, you first have to get seen. If your ad looks and reads like all the rest, you've completely lost your originality advantage.

See For Yourself

Copywriting using DKI is a balancing act. You have to consider several factors, including the character count of your longest keyphrase, your ability to add text to the keyword-rich headline and how the ad looks on the page.

Take a look at some examples below. Remember that AdWords results show differently at various points throughout the day (and in relation to individual account parameters), so you may not see exactly what I saw when doing this research. I'm sure it will be close enough for you to get the idea.

Go to Google and type in the phrase

cruise vacation center

See how all the ads look different? They don't all have the same words bolded. They don't all use the same copy. The bold words stand out because they are different. In this case, your eye will usually go first to the ads with bolded words in the headline.

You see ads offering a 6-night cruise for $xx.xx and other ads promoting X% off on a cruise vacation, etc. There is diversity and that's a good thing.

Now, what if you type in the following?

home improvement

If your results page looks like mine, practically every ad has the exact same headline: home improvement. Not only do most of the ads look the same, the headlines read the same. Your eye doesn't know where to go because everything seems identical.

But wait! About four or five ads down, something catches your eye. It's an ad that has no bold in the headline. That stands out because it's different! As you scroll further down the page, more ads with no bold in the headlines pop out at you. In this case, because everyone else has opted for the DKI feature, their headlines are all very similar, making them less noticeable. But the ones who wrote custom headlines won out, thanks to diversity.

Tips for Writing With DKI

If you want or need to write using the DKI option, consider these tips:

1. Use a descriptive word along with your keyphrase. Instead of just inserting the phrase "airline tickets," place the word "discount" or "cheap" before your keyphrase to help it stand out.

2. For keyphrases that will take the entire 25-character limit, consider using one word of the keyphrase in the headline, instead of the entire phrase. Rather than "home improvement," try inserting just "home" or "improvement" along with other text you write yourself.

3. Keep it applicable. Your headline still has to convey a strong message about what the customer can expect at your site.

4. Test & Track! Everything in advertising is subject to change. Smart marketers always test and track to get the best results.

With a little forethought, you can develop a combination of DKI and custom-written AdWords ads that drive qualified visitors to your site.

About the Author:
Copy not getting results? Learn to write SEO and online copywriting that impresses the engines and your visitors at http://www.copywritingcourse.com. Be sure to also check out Karon's report "How To Increase Keyword Saturation (Without Destroying the Flow of Your Copy)" at http://www.copywritingcourse.com/keyword.

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