I had the opportunity to host a Twitter chat recently on the #ppcchat hashtag where we discussed PPC automation. We discussed what we thought qualified as automation, where people are already using automation, what is working, what isn’t, what automation is “dangerous” to accounts, etc.
From that chat, a few things stood out to me as important for all PPC practitioners:
1. Bidding Is Most Popular Automation In Use Right Now…
I was hoping to get a feel for what people are already doing with automation. So I used a quick Twitter poll to get a straw poll:
Q2: POLL: In what areas are you already using automation? #ppcchat
— Robert Brady (@robert_brady) January 16, 2018
It appears that right now bidding is the area where automation is most in use, which makes sense (though there were some replies of people who wanted an “All of the above” option on the survey). Bidding is highly mathematical and it’s an area where machines should be able to outperform humans. Virtually every PPC management tool has it in some form or another, AdWords has been putting a lot of weight behind their efforts (Target CPA/ROAS, etc.) and scripts do some wonderful things here too.
If you’re just getting into it, this is a good place to start.
2. But Ad Copy Automation Is Viewed As Having The Most Potential for 2018
This is perhaps the hardest area for automation to succeed because ad copy can be so nuanced and the amount of space is so limited. I wrote recently about how intuition is so key for ad testing and that means that any automation will need a lot of human influence to succeed. I think Mark Irvine summed it up best:
A5: *Unpopular opinion* Ad Copy.
No one tests ad copy as much as they want to (read: say they do) and it’s painfully laborsome. Yes, not all variants will perform well, but there’s so much more room for improvement here. #ppcchat
— Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89) January 16, 2018
I would also mention Steve Hammer’s idea that if more data was released then advertisers could automate more of that process via dynamic ads:
A5: I’m looking forward to more data being released to us for usage in more dynamic ads. we’ll have to trust a bit, but I can see more individual ad copy via automation. #ppcchat
— Steve Hammer (@armondhammer) January 16, 2018
3. Display Campaign Automatic Placements & Automation Don’t Mix…Yet
We got a great question from Julie Bacchini that sparked quite a discussion. It seemed like editing automatic placements and excluding the garbage is still highly manual. Emma Franks had the most automated solution:
Not really automated, but we have an excel macro that was built internally to sort through placements. Basically the same process as one would go through manually setting filters in UI, but data is downloaded and it spits out exclusion recommendations #ppcchat
— Emma Franks (@akaEmmaLouise) January 16, 2018
This is a problem that seems it will take some work to resolve.
4. Google’s Automated Bidding Has Been Disappointing To Many
I was surprised how many people mentioned Google’s own bid optimization efforts when we were talking about automation that was disappointing. The usual image of Google being powered by incredible, smart engineers (of which they have many) gives them instant credibility when they put a feature out there, but evidently, they still have some progress to make. Ray Sawvell gave some great advice:
Proceed with caution on automated bidding strategies! Can be powerful, but dangerous if not in a controlled setting imo. Use Drafts + Experiments to test automated bidding strategies before applying on whim. #ppcchat #alwaystest
— Ray Sawvell (@raysawvell) January 16, 2018
So as you delve into Adwords automated bidding, do so with experiments and see if they truly deliver better performance for you and your account(s).
5. Biggest Wins From Automation?
There were a couple of areas that seemed to stand out when we talked about efficiency gains from automation. One was budget control and I was surprised how much the focus was on cross-channel budget management instead of just AdWords 2X budget thing:
— Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk) January 16, 2018
Also saw a lot of love for automation in the reporting context, especially for agencies where you can multiply the time savings across numerous people and even more accounts:
A3: Biggest impact to overall efficiency has been automating weekly reporting. Considering every person would spend X amount of time for each one of their clients, that time really ads up. Automating that (and still refining that process) has been a big win for us #ppcchat
— Natalie Barreda (@nataliebarreda) January 16, 2018
In conclusion, automation is very much in use already and is only going to become more prevalent. Whether you like it or not, you might as well start getting familiar with the trade-offs associated and begin testing some things in your own arena.