Today we interview Danielle, Google Ads specialist, about the future of Google Automation and its impact on advertising
When do you think the move by Google to full automation only will take place?
Speaking to our Google representatives, the change is imminent. Google’s technical team are no longer working on progressing manual Google Ads campaigns, their full energy is being deployed to smart and automated advancements.
I think it would be a risky move for Google to make this change within the next few months, but I do know they are prone to make changes like this around Black Friday. We have to be prepared for a scenario where they could change this at any point, so that there are no shocks in store for our accounts.
How will Google make the change?
The first thing we will see disappear is manual cpc, and potentially enhanced cpc options, now that this is no longer deemed an automated strategy.
I don’t believe Google will automatically turn this off, or switch your current campaigns over to an automated strategy without warning. However, I think it will follow a similar pattern to when they phased out standard text ads. They may just make creating new campaigns on manual strategies obsolete.
Eventually, even the traditional automation techniques will be phased out in favour of smart campaigns, but that will be certainly a few steps ahead of the initial switch over.
How should businesses be implementing automation onto their Google Ads accounts?
With caution! As an agency we are not opposed to automation, we have many accounts that have thrived from its advancements. However, we have seen many new client’s coming onboard that have been wasting substantial amounts of money with little, sometimes no return using automation techniques.
It has been an unusual time for trends in consumer patterns during Covid-19. It has affected brands’ normal seasonality patterns, sometimes for the worst but in other cases better too. I have been seeing that some automated campaigns haven’t been able to adapt quick enough to this sporadic change in user behaviour which has forced me to temporarily switch back to a more controlled bidding strategy. Now we are starting to see markets becoming less volatile and consistency is starting to return. Therefore, I would maybe wait a few weeks and then dip your digital toes into the arena on a small scale first.
It is important to keep in mind that with any automated campaign there is a learning phase. You have to be in a position to accommodate this. It is inevitable that you will have to try some kind of automation soon, if you don’t already do so, or you will undeniably risk falling behind your competition. Which automation strategy you will try will depend on the level of historical data (ie. conversions) and the industry you exist within.
From your experience, how do you think automation has been working this year so far in regards to specific Google networks?
In my opinion, the shopping network has shown much more sophistication than the search network with it’s drive towards automation.
If we look at fully automated smart campaigns then shopping definitely comes up top. The level of return you can achieve from this is evidence of that. Smart search seems too broad in its approach to the targeting.
If we look at the search networks move to ‘responsive’ ad text creatives in 2018, we were all excited by the concept of the new ads. Two years later we still have little visibility on their true metrics and we have seen barely any additional improvements by applying them to our campaigns. On the odd occasion it will improve CTR but the results are not overwhelming or even worth reporting.
In regards to service and ecommerce businesses operating on the search network, I would recommend that you opt for what we deem as more ‘traditional’ automation techniques such as target CPA, maximize conversions, or maximize conversion value cost. I would naturally stay away from maximize clicks in most cases too, just based on historical performance with trialling this strategy on accounts before. Smart search, the verdict isn’t completely out yet but we are not a big advocate either.
Looking at the shopping network, in some circumstances smart shopping is a great option. We believe the intelligence behind this is much more secure in obtaining results. You also have more control. You can control which products are showing and can optimize your feed to improve results too. I think due to shopping having a smaller optimizations base anyway, such as no demographic bids and less ‘traditional’ automation options in comparison to search, it feels like less of a jump to take.
In terms of the display network, both the search and shopping smart campaigns tend to take the responsibility for display themselves. This means less reliance on the requirement to source graphics. However, if you are using more traditional automation techniques, the display network is still important. I regularly opt for a maximize conversion strategy as this tiers users depending on the timescale of their last visit and if their interest is still on the relevant topics.
“Looking at the shopping network, in some circumstances smart shopping is a great option. We believe the intelligence behind this is much more secure in obtaining results.”
What are the main benefits and drawbacks of Google Ads automation?
Well technically it is meant to save time, and in one sense this is true for the initial set up and ongoing bid management. However, the analysis still needs to take place. It would be detrimental to stick all your products or keywords into one campaign and forget to even check them. You will need to set up dashboard reports in order to understand progress and to set up warning flags should the campaigns not perform as intended.
Google claims that their artificial intelligence can pick up on buying signals much more efficiently than humanly possible. This must actually be true. Google collects an unimaginable amount of data about everyone daily. This is kept private but is accessible to the automation bots. This, I would say, is the core benefit to opting in towards an automated strategy. However, what is suspicious is that we cannot even view the search terms for those that found our brand via the search or shopping network within a smart campaign. This would not break any privacy regulations but would just allow visibility to the business owner. Somehow, that doesn’t sit quite right, a compromise would be good.
The major drawback to automation is that Google is relinquishing as much control from the business owner as possible. Even if we take a look at the automated recommendations, Google now takes into account your optimization score similarly to quality score. Within the optimization score it contains aspects such as ‘increasing your budget’. This is unfair to business owners that are not financially in the situation to do this until results improve.
‘Automation will take our jobs’ is often what I hear on different forums, do you believe this is true?
This will never be the case. In fact, the move towards automation has pushed us to think even more creatively about how to control an automated campaign that truthfully, Google wants us not to meddle with. Most business owners do not want to stop at ‘ok’ results, it is a process to continually improve revenue and leads If anything, those with a limited knowledge of Google Ads will need our assistance more than ever as Google makes everything a little less obvious than it has been before.