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Copywriting with Google's Dynamic Keyword Insertion Tool

August 16, 2006
I hope you enjoy this brand-new article from's hot off the
presses! - Jill

Copywriting with Google's Dynamic Keyword Insertion Tool
by Karon Thackston C 2006, All Rights Reserved

Automation is an odd creature.  It usually seems, at first glance, that
automating a process can make things easier, simpler and faster.  But
oftentimes, 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.

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 from
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 be 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

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.  But 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" (without using
the quote marks).  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'll see ads offering a 6-night cruise for $xx.xx and other ads promoting
x% off a cruise vacation, etc.  There is diversity and that's a good thing.

Now, what if you type in "home improvement"?  (Again, without the quotes.)
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 and 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.

Karon Thackston
Marketing Words, Inc.
Copywriting Course 
Post Comment

 Graham said:
We use Google Adwords but can find no reference to DKI on Google ? Can someone enlighten me please?
 rick said:
i can not find it either, it would have been nice to have a link to it, or directions as to how to find it in the article. can you help us out?
 Jill said:

I asked Karon and she said:

Here’s some stuff Google published in a free PDF about AdWords in general. It goes over DKI.

Andrew Goodman also has a good article.

I don’t know that Google advertises this feature in the control panel or anything. I’ve never seen it. You just use the syntax when creating the ads. You don’t turn it off or on, you just type {keyword:blue fuzzy dog} when you create your ad headlines. Andrew’s article explains the functionality of it really well.