HomeBlogWhat Works & What Doesn’t When Automating Ad Copy & Keywords

What Works & What Doesn’t When Automating Ad Copy & Keywords

Author: Michelle Morgan
Last Updated: December 4, 2022 | Paid Search Marketing

This post is the second in a series about automating Google Ads to be more efficient with your time, without running the risk of over-automating. Last time we talked about automated rules and best practices for them. This time we’ll be discussing ad copy and keywords and ways to save time on the two biggest cornerstones of your search campaigns without sacrificing performance.

None of the strategies here will allow you to be completely hands off, as these two areas of your account are far too important to fully automate, but hopefully they can help you save some time and still see great results. Let’s get started!

Leveraging Dynamic Keyword Features

Keywords are a cornerstone of search campaigns, but they can take lots of time to curate and optimize to find the right variants for your account. Luckily, there are some ways you can semi-automate the keyword process to save time while still being successful on search.

Keyword Match Types

The easiest form of keyword expansion in search campaigns is to utilize the many match types available. Each has their own level of strictness with which it will match your keywords to search queries on the engines. If you’re needing to maintain strong control over your queries, I suggest using exact and phrase match as they’ll match to the least amount of variables of your keywords (though even exact match is not really exact).

Broad Match Modifier Explained

What works

If you’re looking for additional volume without adding more keywords, look into testing modified broad match. This match type allows you to keep a level of control by designating root keywords with a “+” sign but will be very dynamic outside of those words. You’ll be able to generate additional volume with keyword variations that are still relevant to your core keywords.

What to watch out for

Broad match is a match type that should be used very sparingly. If you’re utilizing all three match types above and are still looking for additional search volume, broad match might be worth a small test, but I would suggest you leverage any and all of the additional strategies below first, as broad match is notorious for having high volumes of traffic, but with much less relevance to the original keyword you added. You can learn more about match types in PPC U.

Opportunity Tab and Recommendation Tab Suggestions

What works

The Recommendation tab in Google and the Opportunities tab in Bing have both vastly improved over the past few years. Currently, there are portions of the page that suggest new keywords for your account based on your performance. These keywords can then be added quickly with the click of a button into the suggested ad groups.

ad automation Bing opportunity tab example

(Image Source)

What to watch out for

I highly recommend you review these keyword suggestions before adopting them, as they’re based on related keywords within your account and not always based on conversion performance. If you don’t like a suggestion, you can hide it so you don’t see it again.

For keywords you like, I suggest either adding them from the tab itself or going into your account and building out a new ad group specifically for that keyword and its close variants so you can more easily track performance later on.


Google Ads scripts aren’t something that you can easily make from scratch, but luckily there are lots of other advertisers building them regularly and posting their work for the rest of us to use.

What works

There’s one script I like more than others when it comes to finding new keyword opportunities: the N-Grams script.

This script allows advertisers to analyze search query reports much more quickly than going line by line. The report can break down search queries into a series of phrases with certain word limitations, i.e. 1 word, 2 words, etc. up to 7-word phrases to analyze. This allows us to better understand what phrases are driving good performance in our accounts and which aren’t.

What to watch out for

From this report, you’ll still have to make the manual changes to the account to add either new keywords or negatives, but this script can cut down a good amount of time on the analysis side.

Leveraging Dynamic Ad Features

In addition to keywords, we’re also able to save time by automating some of our ad copy creation for our search campaigns. Below are the three dynamic ad features offered on the Google Ads platform. Each can be triggered for creation by simply typing a curly bracket (“{“) into the ad creation screen. From there, a drop-down window will pop up with the following three options:

ad automation dynamic keyword features

Let’s get into how to use each of these features, starting with keyword insertion.

Keyword Insertion

Formerly known as Dynamic Keyword Insertion, Keyword Insertion is the most basic version of dynamic ads. With this feature, keywords can be added into ad copy in real time, allowing advertisers to write a general message in their ad copy but then have specific keywords added to make the copy more relevant to the searcher, depending on their particular search query.

What works

Let’s say you have an international travel company and want to change your ad based on the locations people are typing in. With Keyword Insertion, you could write an ad with a headline that looks like this:

ad automation keyword insertion

Which would manifest to the user like this:

ad automation ad with keyword insertion

When that ad is matched to a keyword, let’s say “italy vacations”, and the text fits within the 30-character limit for the headline space, the ad would look something like this:

ad automation ad with keyword insertion

What to watch out for

Keyword Insertion is best used when campaigns are not highly segmented by theme, and your ad copy cannot be crafted to be more specific to each keyword phrase in the account. If that’s the case for your account, I would encourage you to restructure to more tightly themed campaigns and ad groups in the future, but for the time being this could assist in making ad copy writing easier while still better matching to the user’s search query.

Here are a few more snafus to watch out for when using DKI.

IF Functions

IF functions let advertisers create “if, then” statements within ad copy based on a user’s device or the audience they belong to when they see the ad copy.

ad automation if functions

What works

This feature can be amazingly powerful if you have a different call to action for someone on a mobile device vs. desktop (for example, Call Us vs. Fill Out the Form) or if you want to offer discounts to users within certain audiences, like existing customers.

Rather than get into the details, I’ll direct you to this post by Joe Martinez to get more ideas on how to use IF Functions.

What to watch out for

If you leverage IF Functions to create a different call to action or include a new offer depending on device or audience, it’s very important to make sure that is carried over to the landing page. Be sure you’re not teasing a previous converter with 20% off in the ad copy, then not offering it once they get to the landing page itself, or you’ve given them a code in the copy to remember and enter at checkout.


What works

Countdowns are a great solution if you need to create urgency in your ads or promote a limited time offer from your business. Countdowns allow advertisers to create one ad that will then automatically count down for each day, hour, or minute until the offer expires. All we advertisers have to do is fill out the builder widget and Google will do the rest.

ad automation countdowns

If you regularly have limited time offers, Countdowns can be a great way for you to incite activity from your target audience without needing to constantly refresh ads telling them how much time is left in the offer.

What to watch out for

Once you reach the end of your countdown, those ads will stop showing altogether. It’s imperative that you have active, non-countdown ads in those ad groups to ensure your brand will continue to show for those queries, even after your sale has ended.

One Strategy for Keywords and Ads: Dynamic Search Ads

If you’re very crunched for time and need to find ways to streamline both ads and keywords, Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) could be a great option for you. They’ve been a staple in accounts for a number of years now and are a proven tactic for cutting back on the amount of time advertisers need to spend in accounts.

Dynamic Search Ads are a function of your website as opposed to keywords like in normal search campaigns. This means that rather than inputting keywords, marketers can simply include a website URL, a page URL, or a page feed of URLs and Google (and Bing) will crawl those pages to find the themes of the page, then match to search queries it believes are relevant.

But that’s not all. Google and Bing will also craft half of the resulting search ad for you, including both headlines and the landing page. As an advertiser, all that needs to be added is a manual description and display URL. The rest is taken care of.

I’ve written quite a bit about DSA in the past and believe they can be a great tool—if used wisely. To get started, check to see if you’re the right fit for DSA. Spoiler alert: it’s not about your business type, it’s about your website.

And there you have it! Keywords and ads are imperative pieces of a strong search strategy, and you can’t take too many shortcuts with them, but there are some ways we can automate their creation to save time when we have so many other things going on in business. Test these strategies to see if they’re right for you, then share your experience with us in the comments

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Meet The Author

Michelle Morgan

Michelle is the Co-Founder of Paid Media Pros. She has twelve years of experience in all aspects of PPC and brings a wealth of experience developing and executing campaigns across search, social, and display platforms in both agency and in-house settings. Her experience gives her an especially well-rounded and holistic view of the paid search landscape—one she shares regularly as an influencer, author, and industry speaker at events like SMX, HeroConf, and Pubcon, as well as the Paid Media Pros YouTube channel.

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