From selecting creative elements for testing to reaching statistical significance, this four part blog series reviews basic and advanced tips for conducting a successful creative test.

Previously, we discussed how to select an appropriate test, maintain keyword relevance and limit opportunity costs.

Today I'm going to talk about prioritising and testing keyword tokens to use dynamic keyword insertion and increase creative relevancy.

Test keyword tokens

Keyword tokens within a creative will appear in bold whenever they match or closely match a user’s search query. Tokens are the individual terms that make up a keyword.

For example, the keyword “mens hiking backpacks” contains three tokens: “mens”, “hiking” and “backpacks”. Improve the relevancy of your creative to your keywords by testing tokens. Discovering the most relevant tokens promotes higher Quality Scores by increasing CTR.

A highly granular group might only contain keyword variations using the three tokens “mens”, “hiking” and “backpacks”. Generating creative that includes these tokens is rather trivial.

Conversely, a very general group might support more tokens and additional keyword variations. Consider the search results below, where each creative utilizes a different set of the search query’s tokens. A group might contain keyword variations of “mens hiking backpacks”, “mens rucksacks” and “mens bags”.

Though all three keywords share similarities, generating a relevant creative for this group proves to be a difficult task. Opting to include “rucksacks” rather than “backpacks” makes the creative less relevant to consumers searching for backpacks.

Not including “mens” makes the creative less relevant to male consumers. Without splitting these keyword variations out into individual groups, deciding which tokens to include will require thorough testing.

To prioritize your test variables, pay close attention to the impression share of each token within the group.

For instance, assume keywords that contain the token “backpacks” account for 90% of the total group impressions and keywords that contain the token “packs” account for 20% of the total group impressions.

Because searchers are more likely to include “backpacks” in their query, generating a creative that includes “backpacks” will likely results in a greater overall CTR than a creative that includes “packs”. 

Use dynamic keyword insertion

One of the easiest ways to incorporate keyword tokens within creative is through the use of dynamic keyword insertion.

Inserting {keyword:default text} into the headline, description line or display URL dynamically populates the creative to include the keyword that triggered the creative. In Google, modifying the keyword insertion parameter controls which tokens in the keyword are capitalized.

For both publishers, if the inserted keyword causes the creative to exceed the character limitations, the default text is used instead. For example:

Using dynamic keyword insertion multiple times in a single creative is a quick and effective way to increase relevancy. However, keep in mind that not all keywords make grammatical sense when inserted into a creative.

Take the headline “Shop {KeyWord: Hiking Boots}” for example. If the keyword triggering the creative was “hiking boot”, the headline would read “Shop Hiking Boot”. Even a simple keyword variation such as this can result in an awkward-sounding creative.

Granular and organized groups with well-written creative will benefit most from dynamic keyword insertion—resulting in increasing CTRs and Quality Scores. 

Adhering to best practices and avoiding common pitfalls will help ensure that new iterations of creative will incrementally improve account performance. Though search marketers cannot guarantee that all creative tests will be successful, they can guarantee that all creative tests have been set up for success.

Ed Stevenson

Published 28 August, 2012 by Ed Stevenson

Ed Stevenson is Managing Director (Europe) of Marin Software, a paid search technology firm, and a contributor to Econsultancy. He also writes the Big Search blog. 

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Comments (5)



'Granular and organized groups with well-written creative will benefit most from dynamic keyword insertion—resulting in increasing CTRs and Quality Scores'

Thanks for the tip! I'm always on the look out for marketing tricks and tips.

Rich @ Optilead

almost 6 years ago

Anna Lewis

Anna Lewis, Google Analytics Analyst at Koozai

Good tips, I like to keep my ad groups granular so that they can include all of the 'tokens' and then split test the call to action alongside it to see whether 'Free Delivery' types of ads work better for each set of keywords than 'From £XX'.

almost 6 years ago


Ashwin Naiksatam

Dynamic ad copies for Broad Match Modifier (Exact & Phrase match advance) can be a bit tricky as they will display typo errors and can lead to a poor creative experience. Just need to carefully select which match types should have dynamic ad copies.

almost 6 years ago


Josef Siewruk

I agree with Ashwin. I've taken over many AdWords accounts that use dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) and found that although it often led to lots of clicks, the conversion rate was low due to it attracting irrelevant clicks. This resulted in poor ROI.

Like Anna, I aim for granular ad groups and found that DKI works well for really tight ones, such as ad groups only containing exact keywords.

almost 6 years ago

Anna Lewis

Anna Lewis, Google Analytics Analyst at Koozai

@Josef, do you use DKI in your ads instead of having to write one specific to each ad group? I was wondering why you would need to use it in exact match ad groups as you know exactly what the term will be (although maybe less so following the close match change!).

I use a spreadsheet to quickly insert the ad groups keywords in to the Headline then upload it to AdWords Editor rather than using DKI.

almost 6 years ago

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