In the pay per click industry, automation is by no means a new word. It is however, a term that is getting more and more prominent.

Take Google AdWords for example. Maximise clicks, target CPA, ROAS, maximise conversions, target search page location, enhanced CPC and many more, are all automated bid strategies that have been available within your AdWords campaigns for months and in some cases, years. Dynamic keyword insertion has been around for a few years also, giving advertisers the ability to insert a person’s search term into their ads automatically.

During the past few years, at just about every digital marketing event or conference you will have attended, it’s almost certain that automation will have been on the agenda. Think back a few years when all the talk was about mobile, now automation is the buzzword.

When you scratch the surface of what are clearly some really useful tools to assist in the running of any successful PPC campaign however, you do find that things are not as black and white as companies such as Google and other third party providers of the tech would have you believe.

AdWords Express

AdWords Express is another example of automation from Google aimed at smaller businesses. You create an ad, choose a business category, set a budget and then Google does the rest. It’s benefit is getting your business towards the top of the search results with very little effort, no knowledge of AdWords is necessary and, you don’t need to spend a lot of time managing your campaigns.

The issue with this approach is that if you want to get the best out of anything, it does take time. With the target market for AdWords Express being smaller businesses, value for money on your ad spend is even more important because smaller businesses may have less cash to invest in advertising, may have lower profit products or services, may have lower productivity etc.

With AdWords Express, you hand over pretty much every bit of control to the company that is making money from the ad revenue of each click your ad gets. Does that sound like a good idea?

Third party providers

Another option to assist in running either larger accounts or accounts where time is of the essence is the third party provider route. A quick search on Google (ironically) and you will find a host of options from third party providers that offer Google AdWords automation tools and software.

These tools can vary in price depending on your ad spend, number of accounts, number of features and the level of reporting they offer. Generally, the price of these tools will always be linked to your ad spend, so the more you spend, the more you pay.

However, as Google itself offers more and more automation directly within AdWords, will paying a sizeable fee every month to another company to do the same thing make sense in the future?

Google’s own automation

We already touched on some of the current automation features Google offers. There are quite a few new features coming that are particularly aimed at better automation for the smaller business. Some of these new tools from Google may jeopardise digital marketing agencies that depend on a high number of smaller clients. It will come down to a direct competition between which performs best and which offers the best value for money to the business. 

Anybody who has spent time working in Google AdWords can see how broad match search terms can generate a ton of irrelevant traffic if not very closely monitored and managed. A quick glance across an AdWords account that has not been managed correctly and you will see that ads can appear for some of the most bizarre searches. Not to mention ones that serve vaguely related search results, even though there are far better and more relevant ads that could have been shown. So to totally let go of this control and entrust what could potentially be your entire business to a coded piece of software, seems like a very risky proposition indeed.

Question everything

Some of the questions anybody who may be considering the move to total automation should first consider are:

Individuality and creativity

If advertisers are using automation to come up with the statistically best performing ad copy, how will anybody stand out in the search results?

Writing compelling, emotive adverts or creating content that stands out comes down to understanding brand messaging at it’s core, not just the sector your sell in. Therefore, that unique selling point is best served in a creative way. So whilst automation may help an Adwords manager do some of the mundane tasks, it requires a human with a true understanding of brand and content to ensure your messaging resonates with and helps the person performing the search.

You could be helping your competition

How does Google or a third party software provider know what to do with your AdWords bids, keywords etc? Algorithms are in effect, learning from what you do and sharing that performance information with your competitors and vice versa. If you already run an awesome AdWords account, do you really want to help your competitors by sharing your account’s performance? Naturally, Google will know, but use a third party provider and you could be unwillingly lending a hand to a fierce rival.

The great unknown

Any automated bidding tool will make its decision on how to bid by past experience. But what happens with the bids on keywords that have not been seen before? Google themselves tell us that 15% of searches are new, never seen before queries. If your PPC campaigns are only based around high volume popular search terms, whilst the software will be able to manage your bidding process, you will undoubtedly have a high cost per conversion if you do not also include more niche or longer tail keywords within your AdWords strategy.

Priorities

Unless you are selling products direct from your website, or have your CRM linked to your analytics and AdWords accounts, automated bidding will not know which keywords are more likely to lead to a sale or which are most profitable. They will only make decisions based on keyword/ad performance and nothing else.

Cost/profitability

This is definitely one to consider if you are looking into using a third party provider. They will almost always be charging based on the ad spend of an account, how many different accounts you have etc. These costs could run into thousands of pounds a year. So you will certainly need to do your sums and weigh up the cost versus the possible benefits to see if it is worth your while making the switch.

In conclusion

With great power comes great responsibility. Before you make any decision in PPC, you should always be testing anyway, and whether or not to hand over quite a lot of the day to day running of your AdWords accounts to software, is certainly something that should be trialled under strict testing parameters. Automation is definitely coming and has its benefits. For now however, the end of the PPC human is not upon us just yet. It is more the case of having some great tools at our disposal to assist with some of the heavy lifting, or some of the more mundane tasks within AdWords. This then gives us more time to spend on the strategic and creative areas of running a successful PPC account as part of a larger marketing strategy.

We specialise in revitalising PPC campaigns and the process of improving how your website’s landing pages can convert viewers into customers. So if you have run PPC campaigns in the past and not been impressed with the returns, have a chat with us today.

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