Where’s the Value in AdWords Dynamic Structured Snippets?

“Dynamic structured snippets” is the latest invention coming out of AdWords, but it’s left many of us scratching our heads and trying to figure out where the value lies. This new feature will automatically insert text into your ads as the AdWords algorithm sees fit. Yep, you heard me right.

From the announcement, AdWords explains it this way:

Today, we’re introducing dynamic structured snippets: additional text that automatically shows with your search ads, highlighting industry-specific, structured information about your products and services. Whether it’s a list of shoe brands or the number of nonstop flights to New York City, this automated extension gives your customers a better sense of what to expect on your website before they click on your ad.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not too jazzed about the idea of “additional” text inserted into the ads we create. If you’re like me, your ads are methodically created with painstaking care and detail – where the sitelinks and callouts complement the ad messaging.

As you may be able to tell in the following example, the choice of callouts and extensions are very deliberate, so automating text here wouldn’t be valuable to me as a PPC manager.


The real mystery lies in how AdWords will determine if and when these snippets will show up, and what exactly will be put there. From what we know, it doesn’t look like the automated text will be pulled specifically from the landing page for the ad.

In the help files, Google has this to say:

The information that appears for your ad’s snippets reflects categories of content found on your site.

How that plays out remains to be seen, but Google did share this sample ad, highlighting the automated part:


There is a glimpse of clarity in the help files here about when dynamic snippets might show up, although much is still left to the imagination:

We consider several factors when determining whether automated extensions will appear with your ads, including whether other extensions are also eligible to appear with your ads. Dynamic structured snippets usually won’t impact whether other extensions appear with your ad; however, if another extension showing with your ads performs better than your structured snippets, these will be more likely to appear with your ad instead.

Here’s a concerning scenario: Let’s say you advertise for a university that has a bunch of different writing programs that include graduate programs, undergraduate programs, summer programs, workshops, non-credit evening classes, and more. Within each of those programs, there are additional class types like summer programs for graduates, summer programs for undergraduates, etc.

In this example, would Google know exactly which type of detail is appropriate for the featured program?

Not all automatic extensions are bad. In fact, I can name three that are absolutely wonderful: seller ratings, consumer ratings, and social extensions. They do just what they’re supposed to, but the difference here is that they are more about connecting and integrating already existing information from third parties, not inventing it.

And of course, there is a way to stop dynamic structured snippets from showing via this opt-out form… but why would we do that if we know that extensions factor into Ad Rank? From the announcement on Google+, the AdWords team reiterated:

While automated extensions typically boost the average performance of an ad and are also a factor in Ad Rank, advertisers have the option to disable.

In typical Google form, the feature is only rolling out to a select few verticals for now – retail searches, hotel searches, and flight searches – which could be impacting a considerable amount of advertisers as we speak. Google says it has plans to open it up to more searches later this year.

When Google AdWords introduces features like this, we cross our fingers and hope that it does what Google says it will, but often, that’s not the reality.

While it may feel a bit like we’re being cornered, only time will tell how it plays out and if we’ll be getting those calls from clients and bosses asking why we’re advertising something that wasn’t approved or that’s not relevant to the ad.

So, what’s your take? Have you seen how dynamic structured snippets are working on your ads? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Related reading

Closeup on colorful umbrella. See-through sky and sun. Abstract Color.
Simple Share Buttons