Google AdWords Policies Crack Down on the Use of DKI & ‘Buy’ in Ads

Google updated its AdWords policies last week. One of these policies refers to the use of dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) in paid search ads. Specifically:

“Ads using keyword insertion must be grammatically and logically correct, and result in meaningful ad text for the user.”

google-adwords-policy-updateThis appears to be a significant shift in Google's policies. Previously, Google policies didn't specifically call out keyword insertion, and they only prohibited “extremely bad grammar” within ads.

We don't yet know how strictly Google will enforce this new policy, and the definition of "meaningful ad text for the user" leaves plenty of room for subjectivity. We do know, however, that Google is proactively notifying advertisers that some (or many) of their ads will be deactivated because of this new policy.

Historically, many paid search advertisers have employed DKI liberally throughout their paid search ads. These advertisers will now need to revise a significant number of their paid search ads in order to comply with Google's new policy.

Search engine marketers (SEMs) will need to review their keywords and:

  • Tag all grammatically incorrect keywords as not eligible for DKI. Grammatically incorrect keywords should not be used in ads that utilize DKI.
  • Tag all misspelled keywords as not eligible for DKI. Misspelled keywords should not be used in ads that utilize DKI.
  • Flag all keywords that contain slang. It's unclear if Google's new policy will recognize slang as being grammatically correct or incorrect. Advertisers should monitor slang containing keywords.
  • Tag all remaining DKI-eligible keywords as either singular or plural.

SEMs will then need to review their ads and:

  • Identify all ads that employ DKI.
  • Write both singular and plural versions of ads with DKI.
  • Create logic that ensures subject/verb agreement, matching singular keywords with singular DKI ads and plural keywords with plural DKI ads.
  • Write targeted, non-DKI ads for all keywords that are not eligible for DKI.
  • As a fall-back, use generic ads that are grammatically correct, but the ads may or may not as targeted/relevant.

This is a very important – and, depending on how heavily DKI is used, a very large – task for many major paid search advertisers. SEMs will either need to dedicate a lot of hours to developing new ad strategies and writing new ads, and/or invest in technology that can help them automatically compose relevant, grammatically correct ads.

Additionally, Google is requiring that "ads that lead to a search results page must clearly indicate that the landing page will provide a search experience." For all ads that link to an advertiser's search results page, if the ad has the word "Buy" (or the functional equivalent) in it, it must be replaced with "Search" (or the functional equivalent of). SEMs will need to determine which ads/URLs link to search results pages and replace "Buy" with "Search" accordingly.