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Google Ads Automation in 2019 – The Coming of the Machines

Thursday, January 10th, 2019


Well if the Robot Uprising is going to start anywhere, it could well be at one of Google’s Offices. There are floors there where normal staff fear to go (well they can’t for security reasons, but if they could they probably would be scared) where the machines are slowly taking over. It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, but it could happen one day…

In the meantime, there’s loads that Google’s work on AI can help you with in your AdWords account! They range from very useful tools to areas that can be useful if you have the right account for it. They’re far from perfect yet, but they’re learning, day by day (which given my opening paragraph may be worrying…)

So why Automation?

The real strength in this comes from all the signals that can be analysed at any one time. If you think about the sheer number of factors that can affect a customer’s decision making then you’ll realise how hard this can be to get right:
  • Their demographics
  • The time of day
  • Their location
  • The device they're using
  • The weather
  • Their interests
  • Their hopes, dreams, aspirations*
*Ok maybe a bit much

All these things can and do affect whether or not your prospective customers will buy from you, how they will react to you in that given moment. A 30 year old user in Brighton at 3am whose interested in fast cars will react differently to a 60 year old from Oxford at 11am who likes classical music. And balancing all these aspects in one go is nearly impossible without some additional help. And that is where automation comes into play. It’s ability to balance all these signals, some of which may not be readily available, to optimise the delivery of your paid ads to get the best out of your paid marketing.

The loss of control will bother some marketers. Indeed, I’m not 100% happy about taking my hands off the rails so much. Sometimes you need to be able to control delivery better than is offered by some of these mechanisms. However, some have their uses. Used correctly, these can even improve your marketing.

So in 2019 what areas should you be looking to automate and what do I think should wait until the machines have evolved a little bit more.

Responsive Ads – The Right Message at The Right Time

Getting the right message to your customers is hard. What is your best selling point, are your competitors offering better prices than you, which headline is best, how does this call to action compare to others, the list goes on. Wouldn’t it be easier to just give a machine all your best attributes and let this sort it out?

Then this is exactly for you, and of the automation offered by Google, this is the one I think has the most promise. Available on both Search and Display, this is a great way of delivering the best possible ad to your customer when they see your ad. It also tells you which assets perform the best, allowing you to update the ad to improve performance always building on the best ads.

Smart Shopping – The Perfect Shopping Solution?

Shopping campaigns are a key aspect of any ecommerce marketing strategy. Smart Shopping is that only, smarter? This really does lean heavily on the idea that Google can analyse thousands of signals to get you the right customer at the right time. And while as a concept it seems to make sense and we’ve had success with it on some clients it’s not always a given to succeed. It also requires you to hit 20 conversions from shopping over a 45-day period, so it isn’t available for everyone (plus the more data you have the better it performs).

It does have some control, mainly targeting certain products and setting a target return on ad spend from your campaigns. There is also a display ad which you set up which increases your reach further, again based on Google analyzing traffic and hitting users when they appear likely to convert.

Smart Display Campaigns

Direct response hasn’t always been the biggest strength of Display advertising. For remarketing it works pretty well and in some cases, we’ve had a lot of success with it. Smart Display aims to change all that by improving return from display ads.

The basic premise is similar to smart shopping. You simply provide Google with ad assets similar to a responsive ad and then you let Google build up a display audience based on its data of user behaviour, analyzing data and hitting users at the point they are most likely to become a sale.

In principle, it sounds fantastic. However it has some very specific criteria around budgets and around target cost per lead bids which make it a hard campaign to get right. Again, it can work and over time I’m sure it’s an offering that will improve. For now, it’s something to consider if Display is already a big part of your marketing, but others may let this one go for now.

Bidding Automation

We’ve mentioned in the past but it is a huge part of Google’s automated offering and is only getting better. All the power of analyzing signals and optmising your delivery at the right time with the added control from standard campaigns. I won’t go into too much detail on this but this is definitely the best automation Google offers at this time, partly because it’s been running for so long. This promises much for the other areas as the more data Google gets the better these options will get.

Conclusion and the Role of Digital Marketers

So what happens to the role of the digital marketers? Are we to be made redundant? Probably not (though I would say that wouldn’t I) and there’s a good reason why. The main thing your marketer should be focused on is your strategy and getting your campaign structure right. Analysing complete user journey to make sure that you’re getting the most for your money and more. Automation simply allows your digital agency to focus on this rather than getting bogged down in lots of manual tasks. They can focus on making you more money for your marketing budget. Which is better for everyone. Well, until they rise up and take over…