The evolution of automated technology has been a progressive development within paid search and is now an incremental part of everyday use. Without it, search marketers will struggle to focus on the deeper analysis and insight that clients really value in an agency.
Not everything is worth automating, but there are aspects of paid search that benefit from automation. The parts that take longer to do are usually the parts that have to be done more frequently. This can be anything from ad copy testing and weekly reporting to bid and budget management.
The benefits of automation are constantly adapting. It establishes the ability to use a consistent structure to build cleaner campaigns, leveraging previous knowledge to strengthen the creation of new ones in the right settings, and deliver personalised experiences. It allows you to focus on the strategy and not just the execution.
Whether it’s ad copy creation, bidding, health checks within the account, these can all be run using scripts. The use of scripts can also be dynamic: it can have interchangeable variables (or parts), which allow them to become versatile for use in multiple scenarios. For example, some scripts we use to run health checks within our accounts, such as pausing ad groups with no active keywords or link checker, make sure that users are not directed to a 404 page or a broken link.
Setting up automation is a long process and involves setting up feeds, scrapers on sites, ad creation and report building. But it creates a stress-free outcome in the long term.
Applying automated processes to our everyday work has been a learning curve, but has now created some of the most beneficial time-saving solutions. Not only that, but it has had brilliant results for our clients.
Some of our tried and tested automated solutions have been used for the following:
This is very useful because it runs the tests for you and gives you the possible outcomes. The ability to run side-by-side tests along multiple campaigns through simple but effective tests on scale, such as landing page variations or ad copy changes within any part of the ad copy, either for a set or permanent setting. Fantastic learnings can be taken from this and can then be applied for the future.
Implementing automation to our weekly reporting has reduced our hours by up to 60% every week.
The accuracy that automation creates is from the data itself, which can be managed through alerts of any links being broken, live feeds that are updated daily and the data from the campaigns for better-placed bids. Scripts are programmed and static so they don’t carry the element of human error. The only human error is upon initial creation, but once it has been verified that it is working correctly through different test scenarios, it can just run.
It generates control at a scale with ad copy creation, as key parts are pulled through the live feeds, keeping the ad copy fresh and accurate. With big scaled accounts for bidding position, using Marin has allowed us to set the boundaries for our ad positions whilst getting the best exposure at scale.
This allows the product shopping feed to show the product back to users that have visited several products on site, then the ads show these products back to them in the format of a display ad to help re-engage them to buy these products. Our e-commerce clients have achieved a 4,400% return on ad spend from implementing this.
Automation is not without its pitfalls. Yes it speeds up processes and helps save time in certain situations, but without regular monitoring these changes, there could be a huge cost at the end.
Not every script does what it says or it can have reverse effects on the account. For example, the launch of the bid to impression share script does not guarantee that you are appearing every time it is searched. The main reason for lost impression share is low ad rank: with automated bidding, you cannot selectively choose to increase the bids on terms that are key to selected campaigns. Therefore, you cannot influence your impression share and instead, you end up in a worse position.
The more you scale up in automation the more you need to monitor. Overall, with all the developments coming thick and fast, it has definitely made a name for itself being one of the most critical features for any account.
We would love to hear about your experiences with automation, good or bad. Get in touch by commenting below or tweet us at @iThinkMediaUK.