Google Ads Automation: When To Use It And When Not To


Google has been making an effort to automate as many of its advertising platforms as possible over the years. This is due to increased competition on other platforms and the less obvious benefit of increasing advertiser spending, without their knowledge.

This is not the end of the story. However, many of the automated Google features that have been launched in this time frame have made the experience better for advertisers.

My view of Google and its push to automate ad features is that there are many ways to get value from your investments. However, it is important to be aware of where to look.

In this post, I will show you which features I think are worth your time. Which ones should you take with a grain of salt and which ones should you avoid entirely?

Automated bidding

Many moons ago, Google Ads bidding was entirely manual with everyone jumping at the chance to share the “best” strategies for winning auctions, achieving high-Quality Scores, and “hacking” the system to your benefit.

When to use it

Google Ads’ automated bidding strategies have been quite efficient for me over time, and I have used many of them depending on my goal. The goal is usually classified as lead generation, visibility, direct sales, or website traffic.

Lead generation

When it comes to generating leads in any campaign, the best strategy is to use a conversion-focused bid strategy. However, there are some exceptions. These include keywords that are highly competitive in certain verticals. (More on this later).

Direct sales

If your conversion action is directly tied to a dollar amount or has at least a dollar value, I recommend starting with Max Conversion Value, then letting the campaign run for a while and then switching to Target ROI depending on the intent and structure of the ad group. You can then fine-tune your campaigns until Google Ads becomes a consistently profitable marketing platform for your business.

Visibility or brand recognition

Target Impression Share is your best option if your primary goal would be to rank high for certain terms or be visible on search results pages. Sometimes, Max Clicks and Manual CPC are viable options.

Also read: Top 10 PPC Tools for Advertising Campaigns

Website traffic or SEO assistance

Maximize clicks or Target impression share are your best options if you want to drive traffic to your website, or show up in search results pages for terms that you don’t currently rank for organically. This depends on the terms and competition.

Before you use Google’s automated bidding strategy, consider your overall strategy. Also, remember that the learning period is available for data collection, especially when you are changing bidding strategies.

When not to use it

Although you can still manually bid in Google Ads, I recommend that only certain situations be considered.

For example, I worked with a client who was targeting the keyword “SOC 2”. This keyword is highly competitive. The business wanted to drive conversions and also want its brand to be consistently visible in search results.

We used Manual CPC bidding in this case. Target Impression Share was then adopted for terms similar to this. Despite not optimizing for conversions, the conversion volume was still there.

Automated Ad Creation

Google Ads Smart Creative is an aspect that automates the creation of ads. These features can be a little tricky so I recommend that you use them in some way, but not all.

When to use it

Responsive Search Ads

You can create text search ads using RSAs to include a variety of headlines and descriptions. Google matches the bids to determine the best combination to achieve your goal.

RSAs are great, but I recommend you do your research to create the most relevant headlines and then let the automation (along with your bidding strategy), do the rest. While I don’t recommend allowing Google to generate them for you, it is an option under the “Recommendations” tab.

Responsive display ads

Display ads are difficult for many advertisers. This is mainly because not all have the necessary design skills and resources to create them. Google generates responsive display ads using the assets you provide. They adjust to the Google Display Network’s available placement. They are more like Facebook advertisements than traditional static display ads. As with RSAs, I recommend using high-quality and relevant base assets.

Also read: 7 Best Tools For Successful Google Adwords Campaigns

Why not use it

Other than not letting Google suggest headlines or descriptions for you, Here are some examples of when automation should not be used.

Smart Campaigns

Smart campaigns are basically AdWords Express. The idea is to simplify and automate everything so that novice users can launch campaigns quickly and without worrying about the complicated components.

Performance Max will be discussed in more detail. However, my main point is to avoid Smart campaigns and anything that automates targeting. Learning how to create a manual campaign or hiring someone who is experienced is better than trusting too broad targeting.

Successful marketing oftentimes comes down to the details and you would much rather have control over those than give them to an automated system that is simultaneously taking your money.

Marketing success often comes down to the details. You would rather have control of those details than let an automated system take your money.

Smart Display

I use the term smart display ads because, unlike search, there’s no guarantee of intent. Google claims that advertisers who use Smart Display campaigns see 20% more conversions for the same cost per act (CPA) than those who use other display campaigns.

This misleading and deceptive statement is misleading. Anyone who has managed successful digital marketing campaigns will know that CPA doesn’t mean anything if you are driving unqualified leads. The Display Network has been doing this for years. Use the GDN to keep your targeting under control.

Performance Max

There are a lot of opinions about PMax. Although some people praise its effectiveness, I and others have found it less than ideal. This campaign type combines both Smart campaigns and responsive ads in one place. Google will generate ads for you across all of its properties if you provide information about your marketing objectives, budget, assets, and audience.

Performance Max is based on my experience. It requires strong offline tracking, high volume, and a large budget to be successful. These requirements are not applicable to most intermediate and novice advertisers.

Conclusion — Google Ads Automation

My opinion is that automation combined with human guidance is the best combination of Google Ads and any other platform at the moment. It is not possible to “set it and forget” in this situation. This is not possible with the efficiency that can only be achieved through human intervention. Remember that paid platforms are actually “paying” for your presence. The machine that promotes automation is also billing your credit card.

This is why I suggest using the traditional approach to setting up campaigns, but then leveraging features such as automated bidding or responsive ad creativity. At the end of the day, It is up to the person running the ads to determine which features are most beneficial to them.

Written by
Aiden Nathan

Aiden Nathan is vice growth manager of The Tech Trend. He is passionate about the applying cutting edge technology to operate the built environment more sustainably.

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