Outsourcing and automating are two of the easiest ways for companies to cut costs and save time these days. Commonwealth Bank of Australia started minimizing their cyber security teams this year in favor of outsourcing the function (angering many…), and research shows that 230,000 jobs in the financial sector could disappear by 2025, filled by “artificial intelligence agents.”
Outsourcing is said to be “good for business,” and even “leads to happiness,” according to Harvard research.
Are robots and outsourced teams taking over?
When it comes to the partners you work with, are automating and outsourcing good or bad, or is their individual impact situational?
But no matter how rigorous the vetting, or how smart the AI, there are some functions you’d never want your PPC agency to give to the robots or send out of house.
Here are four things PPC agencies will never automate or outsource:
Sure, some customer-facing services make sense to automate or outsource, like ATMs for example, but the power of an agency is its people. If a client isn’t happy, the agency shouldn’t be happy, and it would be impossible for a robot or third party to pick up on the emotional nuances that make people, people.
There are many synonymous words and phrases for client relations—customer service, customer success, client happiness—but every single one puts the focus on you, the customer. This relationship is crucial to the agency’s success in business, and offers room for the most opportunity.
That means prioritizing and emphasizing the importance of meetings to interpret and review results, talk about KPIs, discuss new internal developments, and anything else that might affect a client’s results. A good agency will also have a strong sense of what clients prefer and will tailor reports (see some examples in our post Make Clients Happy By Presenting PPC Reports Like This, conversations, campaigns, and anything else that can possibly personalized in order to make sure everyone is happy.
An agency’s collective and historical knowledge simply cannot be replicated, automated, or outsourced. Like its ability to successfully manage client relationships, its experience is an inherent quality that sets it apart from other agencies, and from what a robot or third party could offer.
The years of training that come with team members at all levels and positions create the foundation for an agency’s performance. This collective knowledge is what’s used to make recommendations, shape campaigns, adjust creative, etc. and what differentiates a successful agency from one who’s not exactly sure how to help clients.
Agencies also have the advantage of being able to look across all client accounts, which encompasses different industries, marketing plans, budgets, and so forth. Valuable insight such as that isn’t something you’d ever get through automating or outsourcing.
Could computers eventually outperform the millions of designers and copywriters who come up with the creative we see today? Persado, a “marketing language cloud” doesn’t exactly write copy—yet—but instead uses math to optimize sentences that drive action. Persado’s CMO calls it “algorithmic copywriting.”
Interesting, but no reason copywriters need to start looking into a career change. Even IBM, maker of Watson, a supercomputer that combines AI and analytical software to form a “question answering” machine says robots “will never replace the human soul of creativity.”
Developing effective and compelling creative is an intricate task, and that’s why jobs like copywriter and designer exist. Creative development also requires tons of collaboration across teams and departments, which would be halted if any part of it was automated or outsourced.
Intelligently displaying content can be automated with ad rotations, but the actual creation and revision of creative cannot. And when it comes to custom creative, it takes an experienced human to come up with messaging that feels specifically tailored to a certain group.
Bamboo Marketing has a great case study for Ink Cards showing how they hit the right customers at the right time focusing on milestones and holidays. They used tools like Facebook’s “Life Events” targeting to identify their audiences, but their creative team then came up with specific content to resonate with each audience.
Whether it’s platforms introducing new technologies or customer trends changing directions, PPC, and digital marketing as a whole moves quickly. PPC agencies live and breathe this world, meaning they’re on top of relevant news as soon as it’s available, and applying that information to see how they can use it to clients’ advantage.
Again, with the added benefit of being able to see across multiple accounts, PPC agencies can move quickly to test innovations and revise for best results. You can’t automate or outsource a true passion for being on the cutting edge of industry practices.
As technology improves, there may be a stronger argument to automate or outsource more of an agency’s functions. If a job is monotonous, it will soon be gone, freeing time for those that require a human element.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the most awaited days of the year for all online retailers. Last year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday represented over $6.5 billion in online spending, close to 2% of the total American online spending in 2016.
If you want to be prepared for this event, you must have your PPC campaigns ready beforehand. You can’t have the same campaigns than the ones during the year; you need to adapt them to the upcoming holidays. This is especially true the closer you get to Black Friday (which will be held on November 24, 2017).
An efficient way to change so is by using automated PPC advertising to sequence and flight your ads. Instead of running a static group of ads all the time, you would display a diverse set of ads that touch the different stages consumers go through before the holiday season starts.
Why You Should Prepare for Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Here’s a fact hard to ignore: Cyber Monday 2016 was the biggest day in the history of U.S. e-commerce. Consumers’ spending surpassed the initial estimates, reaching $3.45 billion online, $110 million above those of Black Friday.
In 2017, it’s predicted that online spending for Black Friday will reach $3.52 billion, an increase of 5.39% compared to last year. What’s more, Salesforce estimates Black Friday will be the busiest digital shopping day in U.S. history.
According to Forrester’s 2017 Online Holiday Outlook report for the US, there will be a 3% increase in the total number of online holiday shoppers, while consumers spending will reach an average of $689 online, 8% more than last year.
Another important aspect from last year was that mobile shopping accounted for 47% of visits to retail websites and 31% of sales. This means, if you don’t already have a mobile strategy in place, it’s time you take it seriously for this year.
Preparing Your Ads for Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Thanks to the increase in the consumer’s interest in making purchases, you will be able to increase your store’s traffic and sales. One way to maximize both is by using flighting to run PPC campaigns that follow the consumer’s interest.
Flighting is a technique where you schedule your ads to run for a period of time (called a flight) followed by a period where you pause all ads for the advertised product or service. Such scheduling pattern is often used to support seasonal promotions. At first, you would select a group of ads (known as “steps”) you want to “activate” during a specific time period (which could be an hour, a day, or a week).
During that given time, you will only promote the step you want to show. Once the first steps reach the time condition, it will be paused, and the next step will be enabled. The process continues until there are no more steps in your flight.
The main benefit of flighting is that you can lead your customers throughout the sales funnels towards a higher conversion rate thanks to the increase of ad relevancy.
A smart way to leverage flighting for Black Friday and Cyber Monday is by offering progressive promotions. This means, you can start your campaign offering a promotion with low percentages off, and as the weeks go by, increase the percentage off.
If you were to create a 4-week campaign for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, a tentative campaign could look like this:
- Step 1: From Oct 30 to Nov 5 – 20% off
- Step 2: From Nov 6 to Nov 12 – 15% off
- Step 3: From Nov 13 to Nov 19 – 20% off
- Step 4: From Nov 20 to Nov 27 – 25% off
Promotions aren’t the only thing you can schedule. Another way you can implement is by showing different messages in every step. You can use a conversion framework like Chris Goward’s LIFT Model to create these messages:
The LIFT method has 6 elements:
- Urgency: You can add urgency to your ads by adding time-bound (flash sales) or by showing the limited product quantities still in stock.
- Clarity: Make the ad clear by explaining what the product is about.
- Relevance: Relevance can be anything that makes the product closer to the consumer’s intent. In the case of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, this is the percentage off, as that’s the main parameter people use to gauge the quality of the offer. By mentioning the specific percentage off, you can increase the relevance of your ads.
- Distraction: Remove any kind of distraction from your ad. Instead of explaining what the product is about, mention exactly the product name, the percentage off, and a benefit.
- Anxiety: It’s a common practice among marketers to mention a number of products available for sale. While good, this can create anxiety in the consumer. You can reduce the anxiety by reducing the options available.
- Value proposition: Mention the product qualities, features, or benefits.
With this model, you can take your ads and create different ones based on each element. Combined with the progressive offers, you could end up running a powerful set of steps previous to the holidays.
(Note: You can use flighting for your Facebook or cross-channel campaigns with AdStage.)
5 Extra Tips for Flighting Your PPC Campaigns
Taking the previous ideas, here are a few extra ways you can make your ad flighting more effective for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
1.Increase Your Budget
The increase in traffic will result in an increase of the competition. To cover the increase in traffic, you must increase the budget of your campaigns, so they can get the impressions and clicks necessary. The budget increase works similar to the progressive promotions explained above: you would start with a budget slightly larger than usual, and you would increase it as time goes by. The closer your campaigns get to the dates, your budget would proportionally increase.
If you don’t know how much you should increase your PPC budget, take a look at last year’s analytics. See how much your sales increased in percentage terms, and then increase your budget for the same percentage. If you are still in doubt and you think your competition will increase their budget over this percentage, increase your budget even further.
Discuss with your boss and get her permission to have a large budget allocated specifically for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. At the end of the day, if the budget increase will bring more sales which will cover the investment, it’s a no-brainer for your agency or company.
Also, take a look at last year’s sales times and days, and see when you saw the majority of your sales. With this data, you can use day parting and bid scheduling to increase the budget even further for these times and dates.
2. Add Power Words to Your Ads
In the previous section, you saw the importance of creating different ad variations according to the LIFT method’s elements. Another way to boost your ad’s copy is by using power words. These are words that copywriters like to use to make their ads look more powerful. Some of the words you should use in your ads include:
- Percentage Off
- Cyber Monday
- Black Friday
Not only these words will add a punchier look to your ads, they will also increase their relevancy. In the case of Google Adwords, if someone searches for your product plus the term “Black Friday” (or any of the other mentioned terms above), Google will bold the text that matches this term, just like it looks in the image below:
3. Know Your Keywords Positions
Along the previous point, you must be aware of the desired keyword position for your ads. If you know the specific position that brings the best cost-effective results, make sure you adjust your bids to keep it. Since the CPC increases along to the increase in bids from your competition, you need to make sure to increase your bids as well.
Since Cyber Monday happens after the weekend following Black Friday, don’t doubt on increasing your bids even further during this weekend. As you saw before, in 2016 Cyber Monday draw more sales than Black Friday, so you can expect a further increase in sales during this date.
4. Add Your Copy to the Structured Snippets
In 2015, Google released a non-clickable ad extension called Structured Snippets. Structured Snippets allow you to choose and edit the text in the extension as well as increase your ad space, something that boosts your click-through rate and ad relevancy. These ad extensions can be set at the account, campaign or ad group level.
Add each of the previously mentioned conversion-focused copy on these snippets. If you have any special offers, simply enter one offer in the snippet to highlight your deals. The closer you get to the date of the holidays, the more aggressive you should get with your copy.
5. Add Your Copy to Ad Customizers
A great way to increase your CTR during Black Friday and Cyber Monday is by using ad customizers. Ad customizers allow you to customise your ad text based on the keyword the user is searching for, the device they are using, the location and even the date, time of day or day of the week.
Because you know people are more price-sensitive during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you can use ad customizers to insert the percentage off, the remaining time left before a sale ends, and any other urgency or anxiety-focused message.
Your e-commerce store is facing two of the most important days of the year. Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be the time of the year where you will make a big part of your yearly sales.
To attract the most amount of traffic to your store, you must have your PPC campaigns ready. In this article, you saw how you can increase your PPC effectiveness by flighting your ads.
Remember to break down your campaigns by week, and follow the five tips shown before. This will help you have a better Christmas season and increase your sales in the process.
Whether you’re an agency or in-house advertiser, keeping tabs on your campaign performance across different channels is a lot of work. From spend monitoring to ad ranking, advertisers have a lot to stay on top of; and because optimization is the key to a successful campaign, ignorance is not bliss.
While I can’t speak for the entire PPC community, I know that I am certainly not by my computer all the time. My guess is that most PPCers aren’t on theirs all the time either. If living in our ad data is part of a normal day’s work, we need to have an easy and efficient way to stay on top of it all.
Setting up automated PPC alerts that send emails accessible on mobile is a great way to stay in the know and take necessary actions to keep your advertising running smoothly.
Check out these ten alerts all PPCers should use to stay productive, optimize strategy, and make the most out of each advertising dollar.
1. Check Ad Copy
What are the tell-tale signs of great ad copy? Generally, we know our copy is doing what we need it to by the number of clicks it gets over any given period of time. Therefore, if an ad is sent out into the wild and gets no clicks, we as advertisers need to know.
Example: Alert me if an ad has greater than 100 impressions and less than 1 click.
2. Monitor CPA
In any PPC campaign, monitoring costs is a no-brainer. The cost of an acquisition or conversion is especially important to ensure not only that our ads are converting, but that they are doing so at a profitable rate for our client or company. It is important to modify an alert like this one with an impressions count to be sure that an ad or campaign has seen enough daylight to properly determine an ideal CPA.
Example: Alert me if impressions are greater than 1000 and CPA is greater than X.
3. Ads Not Converting
Your ads may not be converting because of landing page experience, ad copy, or audience targeting. Whatever the reason, you want to stay in the know about ads that don’t guide consumers to the end goal of a purchase or sign-up — to save money and optimize your campaign for success.
Example: Alert me if I’ve spent more than $500 and conversion rate is less than 10%.
4. Getting Close to Spend Cap
Are you pacing your ad spend budget? The following alert will allow you to stay tuned-in to the pace of your ad spend while giving you the power to take action before your cap is hit.
Example: Alert me if total spend > $470 (where spend cap = $500).
5. Search: Average Position is Dropping
If your strategy includes first-page search exposure, this alert is for you. By receiving a notification when an ad’s average position drops below your target, you can take the appropriate action (raise bids, evaluate keywords, etc.) before falling too far behind.
Example: Alert me if the average position is greater than 4.
6. Check Landing Page Performance
No marketer wants to spend money on poorly-converting campaigns. If your ads are getting clicked on at a decent rate, but for some reason, those clicks don’t convert into customers, it’s time to check your landing page experience. This alert will notify you so you can take action before it’s too late.
Example: Alert me if CTR > 8% and conversions are less than 1.
7. Account-Level Spend Pacing
For marketers who allocate budgets by ad networks, setting up an alert like this will keep their network-specific spend on track.
Example: Alert me if total spend is greater than $2,500.
8. Search: Check Keywords
This alert is great for campaign management at the keyword level. If you’re testing out some new keywords in a few of your ad groups, use this alert to monitor their performance and iterate when necessary.
Example: Alert me if CTR is less than 2% for selected keywords.
9. Check Facebook Relevance Score
A low relevance score could increase your cost per click and even be detrimental to a company’s brand. This alert will give you the power to keep a close eye on your ads’ relevance score so you’ll know if you need to update your targeting or copy.
Example: Alert me if my ads’ latest relevance score is greater than 0 but less than 8.
10. Facebook: Check Video Ad Creative
Video ads take a lot of time and creative effort to publish. Make sure your efforts are not in vain by setting an alert to notify you if those video ads are being skipped over by your audience.
Example: Alert me when my video views are less than 5.
Take control of your advertising with these ten alerts and leave manual performance checks behind.
In AdStage, all alerts are customizable to your strategic criteria and can be set up in less than 2 minutes. Once you’re comfortable with the action you take following an alert (e.g., pausing an ad if it’s flying too close to your spend cap), take the automation one step further and convert it into a rule. Try for yourself — sign up for a 14-day free trial.
The world of PPC is going through deep changes thanks to the power of automation. Automation is helping PPC specialists and agencies free their time from mundane tasks to focus on higher-value activities.
In the past few years, the major ad networks like Google AdWords and Facebook Ads provide their Advertisers with automation tools to improve their management performance.
These new automation features provided by these networks are just the beginning. There’s a lot more that will be released in the coming years, which will impact PPC management in even more profound ways.
To discover how automation has influenced PPC management, we asked seven PPC experts how automation has impacted their workflows. Here’s what they said!
What Impact Has Automation Had In Your PPC Campaigns?
Since Google Adwords and Facebook Ads launched their automated rules, automation has been in every PPC specialist’s radar. Many repetitive tasks can now be done once and then automated, such as pausing low performing campaigns, scheduling ads, or changing bids. For this reason, automation is in the center of most PPC specialist’s work life.
Automation is essential to everything we do in PPC. We’ve built our own tool which automates account creation, search term analysis, ad copy creation, bidding, shopping creation. We believe that it is interesting to figure out how to execute a complicated strategy once, but after that, we want it automated.
As a PPC agency, we find that automating small tasks leads us all to focus on the bigger picture. Unfortunately, it’s too easy to get hung up on the small things because “they have to be done”, before you can focus on bigger needle movers.
So automation like ad testing and bid adjustments, albeit small automations, have freed up a ton of time to focus more on what matters for us.
Automation has made my life a lot easier by taking care of the repeatable little tasks. I love to run rules in my paid social campaigns that help keep my ads fresh and alerts to direct my attention to potential issues. Having the time to focus on other more important tasks has helped me increase the effectiveness of my account management.
In my experience, automation has been successful in saving me time and improving my campaigns effectiveness.
Melissa Mackey, Search Supervisor at gyro, has found there are many tools that have helped her improved her ad management. From bid and budget management to scheduling and stopping campaigns to ad copy testing, she uses automation to save her a lot of time each week:
The biggest impact has come from using Acquisio for bid and budget management. We no longer have to manually manage budget pacing – saving hours each week. The technology also optimizes bids in near-real time, helping us to get better performance in our accounts. We also use automation to pause or enable campaigns automatically – no more logging in on weekends to pause a campaign that’s ending. We use AdAlysis for ad copy testing, which enables us to test faster and smarter.
We routinely see advertisers improve their CPA and ROAS by 20% when they streamline their workflows with Optmyzr’s tools. And because they spend less time to achieve these results, they have more time to find new clients and grow their business in other ways.
Despite its benefits, PPC automation also has its limits. The fact is, there are still only certain amount of tasks you can automate. Kirk Williams, owner of ZATO, gave us a detailed look at how he uses automation for PPC management:
The impact of automation has grown significantly for our accounts over the years. We have begun to use automation in our PPC clients primarily in 5 ways: bid adjustments, ad management, negative keyword management, reporting, and notifications.
In bidding, like many agencies, we use a selection of tools and automated rules to make bulk decisions based upon historical performance for specific keywords or product groups (in Shopping Ads).
Finally, we automate notifications for certain elements of a client account to ensure we are getting the most up to date data on important elements. For instance, we have a an automated rule set up that tells us if a client’s important campaigns/ad groups have zero impressions in a day. That alerts us to the fact that something may have happened (especially important in Google Shopping when it’s not always apparent if a product got disapproved immediately).
Automation is still pretty new and it’s far from being perfect. It takes trial and error to see what tasks are best automated and which ones should still be managed by the expert. On this end, Michelle Morgan expressed her experience:
Now, that’s not to say that all automation practices I’ve tested have worked. Over the years I’ve been able to test different strategies, find what works well for me and my clients, then turn off or revert any tests that simply didn’t pan out.
How Much Do You Think Automation Will Change the Way PPC Management is Done in the Future?
Automation is still quite new in the PPC world. Given its limited scope, PPC specialists still need to focus on many important tasks. With the advent of technologies such as machine learning and big data, and with the sharp evolution of artificial intelligence, the whole industry may change soon. PPC specialists need to be aware of the future changes of automation and how it can impact their jobs.
According to Michelle Morgan, automation will increase the quality in which PPC management is done:
I think automation will continue to become more prevalent in our daily work lives, but in more sophisticated ways than they have before. Most of the basics have been covered by existing tools, so the bar has been raised.
Although automation may help companies save time and money, it won’t be easy for them to adapt to this changes. She expressed concerns:
I imagine each new automation innovation will take a bit longer for advertisers to swallow, but could eventually change the way we’re doing our jobs.
Nonetheless, there will be tasks which automation won’t affect. On this end, Jonathan Dane said:
I think that PPC by itself can truly be 100% automated very quickly. What won’t be easy is the creative side. The creative ads (not text ads) and more importantly, the landing page or website experience. Doesn’t matter how fine tuned your PPC campaigns are if you can’t get anyone to convert. And that’s why the art of getting PPC to work will always be there – at least for the near future. 😉
Even if you think automation will make PPC specialists do less and less things, you shouldn’t be scared of automation. Kirk Williams likes to see automation as an complement of PPC specialists and not a replacement. Instead of focusing on what it can take away from PPC specialists, you should focus on what it can bring to the table.
We fought this for a long time at ZATO… until we began to look at automation less as a replacement, and more as an assistant. When this change happened in our minds, we began embracing it in client accounts. I truly think this is the way automation is going, and is why it will continue to increase in value. This goes into the difference between true AI, and machine learning (as detailed well in conversations I have had with AdStage founder Sahil Jain), but what we have primarily now is machine learning. In this, we can utilize algorithms and machine learning to increase the success of repeatable processes, and it is there that the value of automation is high in PPC.
I think the most valuable PPCers in the future are not the ones who simply “use” automation for the heck of it (efficiency is pointless if the task you are making efficient is pointless). The valuable future PPCers are the ones who will use automation to save them time in repeatable processes, so they can devote themselves to the deeper analysis points and decisions that need to be made for smarter decisions.
Even though Kirk Williams believes PPC automation won’t make PPC specialists go out of business, Melissa Mackey thinks there are certain tasks they shouldn’t be doing any more:
I blogged about this recently. I think manual bid management is already obsolete – it just doesn’t make sense when there are so many tools, many of them free, to optimize bids. Automation can help with ad copy testing too – this can be completely automated, if desired (although I don’t recommend this). One of the most important changes PPC specialists will faces is a shift from a purely operational focus (like changing bids and scheduling ads), to a more strategic role. PPC specialists will leave the execution of the ad campaigns to the automated tools.
Four of the interviewed experts agreed on this issue.
First, Dave Walker said:
Paid Search can be split into 2 parts. Strategy & Execution. I don’t expect strategy to be ever fully automated, and am skeptical of completely removing humans from the process. Machine learning etc. gets thrown around a lot as some sort of magical solution, but it will be a long-time before the role of intelligent human thought is removed from marketing. Execution on the other hand can be almost fully automated.
Later, Frederick Vallaeys mentioned that:
Automation is changing the way we manage PPC accounts very dramatically. As Google rapidly improves its artificial intelligence and machine learning, certain tasks are easier to automate, like bid management and ad testing. Account managers can also create their own automations using AdWords Scripts. And when more tasks are automated, the account management role shifts to more strategy work, and monitoring that automations deliver the expected results.
Melissa Mackey also added to this last comment:
Most manual number-crunching will be done via automation, freeing up PPC managers to focus on long term strategy and analysis.
Finally, JD Prater shared his thoughts on the topic:
Automation is really going to help account managers become strategic and diagnose issues faster. Especially when thinking about machine learning to bubble up insights and optimizations that I can take action on. I believe that automation will help my accounts become more efficient and produce better results.
What Other New Technologies Do You Think Will Impact How PPC Campaigns Are Run?
Automation is only one of the various technologies which may affect the way PPC management is done. There are many other new technologies which are likely to come up and change the industry standards.
Before we consider any new technologies, we need to remember the first goal of any new tool is to solve specific problems for PPC specialists. In this regard, JD Prater said:
There’s a lot new tools hitting the marketing technology landscape everyday. I think the ones that will win out are addressing specific problems and pain points. I’m really looking forward to the tools that empower people to optimize and be data-driven.
Similar to what JD said, Melissa Mackey thinks there are already a lot of tools that can replace the standard out-of-the-mill optimization techniques of AdWords or Bing Ads:
There are so many new technologies out there, it’s hard to keep up. I’m a fan of third party tools, rather than relying on Google or Bing to optimize. There are so many great tools out there already. Soon, the days of logging into AdWords and poring over raw data may be a thing of the past.
From all the experts interviewed, Jonathan Dane is probably one of the most pessimistic regarding the future of PPC automation. He believes a new technology such as custom recommendations can not only change the way agencies manage PPC campaigns, but also can make companies like the one he runs go out of business:
Custom recommendation engines will be the quickest way that our agency, KlientBoost, will be put out of business. Imagine a software knowing what your goals are, and then only making recommendations for you to change things – around those goals. This can come with a flair of AI, but it’s also just easy logic sometimes. That will be more of a game changer than automation or programmatic tools.
One common challenge publishers face is ad attrition; that is, how people get tired of seeing the same ad over and over. To overcome this issue, advertisers rotate their ads so their audience receive similar ads but that differ from each other. On this end, Michelle Morgan believes the next big change can be the way audiences experience ads:
I’m constantly amazed with the innovations coming out of our industry on a fairly regular basis. In my mind, the biggest trend is more from an end user standpoint, how our target audience is experiencing our advertisements. Nearly all ad channel innovations coming out are trying to help us better target our desired markets and engage with them in a more authentic manner. With that, there’s going to be all kinds of potential for new technologies that help advertisers leverage those advancements and become even more effective.
Whatever happens with the upcoming technologies in the future, no new technology will be separated entirely from each other. It’s likely that the next big new technology will be tied with other similar ones. Kirk Williams said:
I think the future of PPC will look like a combination of Paid Search, Social, Voice Search from mobile devices, Augmented Reality, and IOT. Sure, this is a long list, but the new tech in that list are definitely (1) increased intelligence with voice search assistants, (2) Augmented Reality, and (3) IOT devices.
In terms of the third, I think there are ways IOT will disrupt the paid search realm that we don’t even know about yet. For instance, buttons like Amazon’s dash button can be used to order things like water filters or laundry detergent completely eliminating the need for a search online at all (and thus no ads).
We all know that voice search is continuing to grow as “technology” that is affecting paid search but it’s worth an honorable mention because we are still in the early stages of it. I think Amazon Alexa (now on multiple devices), Apple’s new home device, Google Home, and Microsoft’s Cortana will continue to become valuable parts of our lives, though time will tell exactly what that means for advertisers.
Finally, augmented reality will certainly become a part of the future of advertising, whether that is simply looking one’s person in the mirror with an overlay of that new shirt to see what we look like, or some other clever way we think up. It would be foolish to not stay up on the changes in digital marketing.
Similar to what Kirk Williams said, Frederick Vallaeys believes the way the future technologies will improve PPC management has more to do with how they are tied to each other:
What excites me most is that Google makes scripting very accessible to marketers through AdWords Scripts and that they can tie into other Google services. I imagine the day is not far off when we can use AW Scripts to use data from Google’s new Attribution, and to write our own machine learning algorithms with Tensorflow.
The fact that we can combine Google’s technology with all the data from our business means we are not bound to cookie-cutter solutions, but can actually do unique things for our unique businesses.
Despite the fact new technologies will come and change the way PPC management is done, some things won’t change so much. Rather, the quality will improve. Dave Walker thinks automation will help companies to hire less people and improve the execution of the campaigns:
Tools, like Segmatic or others, focused on automating execution will allow for more PPC spend to be managed by fewer people. PPC will become more and more focused on strategy, rather than Excel skills alone!
Automation has changed the PPC landscape in an unprecedented way. This article has shown you how the future of PPC automation tools are impacting the way management is done by some of the top industry experts.
You have also seen how it will may impact in the future. Finally, you have how future technologies may impact the way PPC management is done.
What are your thoughts on the future of PPC automation? Please, share your thoughts in the comments below.
Save Time Optimizing Ad Accounts with Automate Bulk Actions
Managing your ad campaigns individually on each network is time consuming and repetitive. Instead of dedicating resources to analyze campaign performance or refining your ad creative, you’re stuck juggling multiple open tabs to perform the same tedious optimization tasks across all your active campaigns.
Introducing some automation into your ad management workflow is a sure-fire way to avoid wasting time making the same manual across all your ad creative. If you can significantly reduce the amount of time and effort you’re currently spending on tedious optimizations, you’ll be able to re-allocate that time and effort into thinking about strategy, audience targeting, and testing.
What Are Automate Bulk Actions?
Bulk actions allow you to make precise optimization, in mass, across a selected group of desired accounts, campaigns, and ad creative. Make quick, sweeping changes across accounts, campaigns, ad group/ad sets, and ad creative based on the metrics or actions using simple if-then logic to apply changes to your accounts based on the criteria you set.
Bulk Actions help you efficiently optimize your accounts:
- Edit bids, budgets, and statuses of any campaign, group/ad set, ad, or keyword across your ad networks all at once.
- Gain peace of mind with real-time status email notifications that let you know the Bulk Action task successfully applied your changes.
- Save and run common bulk actions across multiple campaigns, ad groups / ad sets, or ad creative at the same time.
What Are Some Common Ways to Use Bulk Actions?
Quick House Cleaning: Pause All Low-Performing Ads
It’s important to run periodic reviews of your campaign’s ad performance and pause the ads performing poorly while increase spend for the ads converting the most leads. Allowing bad ads continue to receive impressions will hinder customer acquisition efforts and result in low quality scores.
Continue refining campaign performance and use Bulk Actions to automate identifying and pausing low-performing ads across all your networks; including Bing, Google AdWords, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Use Bulk Actions to automate identifying and pausing low-performing ads across all your networks.
For example, you may want to pause poor performing ad creative that generated a high average cost per conversion.
Looking at performance over the last 14-days:
- Spend > $400 AND
- Conversions > 5
- Cost per conversion > $200
- Then pause the ad copy
Make Keyword Bid Adjustments in a Flash
Keyword bids directly impact campaign profitability and ultimately your ROI. For example, if you bid too low, you risk missing valuable opportunities to reach potential customers. Other the other hand if you bid too high, you’re also driving up your cost per acquisition and diminishes your returns. Edit your bids according to your desired advertising goals.
Take advantage of great performing keywords, by raising their bids so they can show in higher positions and more often.
Looking at performance over the last 30-days:
- IF average position is <3 AND
- IF conversions are > 5
- IF cost / conversions < $80
- Then Increase bid by 5%, with a maximum ceiling of $8.00.
Health Check for Your Quality Scores
Search marketers interested in increasing ROI have to not only understand, but also improve Quality Scores to optimize PPC campaigns. Quality Score is a grade assigned to your paid search campaigns at the keyword level, by either Bing Ads or Google AdWords. Ad networks prefer relevant ads because they offer searchers a better user experience by displaying only the most relevant results for their search intent.
Low quality score keywords can be costly to your overall account, driving up average cost per click, and inflating cost per conversion averages. Pause poor performing keywords in one sweep with a low quality score bulk optimization.
Looking at keyword performance over the last 14-days:
- IF Quality Score <5
- IF average CPC > $1.25
- IF spend > $200
- IF cost per conversion > $100
- Then pause the keyword
Putting It All Together
Advertisers are already seeing success with Automate. One large educational organization immediately lowered costs by $18,000 in a 28 day period with one dayparting rule. Other direct advertisers, such as HIRED, have been able to decrease their costs per acquisition by over 30%; while agencies, like Inflow, see an average lift of 20% conversions using automated rules to adjust bids, budgets, and flighting across search and social channels.
Now you can instantly make sweeping changes across all your accounts, campaigns, ad groups / ad sets, ads, and keywords right inside Automate.
Create your first ‘Bulk Action’ in Automate to save time and start focusing on campaign strategy today!
Managing a PPC campaign takes time. A big part of that time is taken by activities you repeat over and over, like scheduling ads, optimizing bids, and keyword management.
Some of the activities you do to manage your campaigns are small and may take you 10 minutes. But aggregate all those little tasks, and you will see you are losing many hours a month you could spend in higher-value activities.
In this article, you’ll learn how to use automation to save up to 10 hours a month when managing your PPC campaigns.
On Your Own: 6 hours per month
Optimizing a campaign is one of the most time consuming tasks of any PPC specialist. Tasks such as setting up new ads to test, changing bids to reflect a new tactic, and improving the ad copy of a set of ads take too much time. Most importantly, it can distract the specialist from the big picture of helping a business improve its leads and ROI.
With Automation: 2 hour per month
You can use automation to help you optimize a wide variety of basic optimization tasks, such as:
- Pause ad sets and ad groups which spend over their desired limits
- Pause low performing ad sets, ad groups, or specific ads
- Increase the spending of ad sets, ad groups, or specific ads based on their high performance
- Adjust the bids based on the impact (including ROAS and CPA)
- Run ad tests
Google AdWords already lets you set simple automate ad rules. You can also use scripts and other AdWords automation tools, which usually give you greater control and more automation options.
Facebook has also released automation rules in 2016, allowing advertisers to optimize campaigns in a similar fashion than to Google AdWords. Some of the automation rules Facebook offer include:
- Pause campaigns, ad sets or ads based on performance
- Increase or decrease campaign budgets based on performance
- Increase or decrease manual bids based on performance
- Receive email alerts based on ad performance
Even though Facebook’s automation rules are good enough for companies with smaller budgets and levels of complexities, they can be too restraining for larger business. With the help of a tool such as AdStage, you can automate your campaigns with greater flexibility.
For example, you can implement your automation rules across multiple campaigns and ad sets simultaneously. What’s more, AdStage allows you to apply as many rules as you wish, while Facebook only lets you set up to 100 automated rules per ad account.
On Your Own: 2 hours per month
Ads don’t last forever. PPC specialists know this very well when they try to scale an ad that is performing well but stops performing as it should. The reason why a well-performing ad stops bringing any meaningful results is due to a process known as “ad fatigue.” When a publisher hits an audience with an ad too many times in a short period of time, the audience’s attention to that ad drops, which lowers the CTR and, therefore, increases its costs.
To fight ad fatigue you can implement a tactic called “ad rotation.” This consists on manually creating a large number of ads within one ad group (or set), with their respective images and copy for each one. Then, you could set a schedule time for each one, run them, and after a certain time has passed by, compare the results.
The problem with this solution is you would need to keep a tight schedule on each ad running time as well as manually check when they are supposed to stop. Finally, you would need to stop the ad yourself, and activate a new one. Repeat that over a dozen times, and you can imagine you can end up wasting a lot of time (without counting the mental fatigue that can give you).
With Automation: 30 Minutes per month
Automating ad rotation would help you set all your ads at once (with their respective headlines, copy, and images), set up how often you want to run them (which could be hours, days, weeks, or even months), and let the ads rotate automatically the way you set them up. You can then set up an alert (which you will see later how to do) and check the results without having to check constantly how they are performing.
Google AdWords currently allows you to use automatic ad rotation. Google offers four options:
- Click optimization (the default option): With this option, Google would optimize your group to make it receive more impressions and clicks overall.
- Conversion optimization: When Google optimizes your ads for conversion, they deliver the ads that have converted better more often into the ad auction than other ads in the ad group.
- Even rotation: In this option, Google rotates your ads more evenly into the ad auction, helping your ads with low CTRs and conversion rates to show more often.
- Indefinite rotation: In this option, Google also delivers your ads more evenly into the ad auction, but does so for an indefinite amount of time and does not optimize.
Facebook Ads rotation works differently, as they set up their ads in a way that different ads within the same ad set compete against each other for delivery. That means they display all the ads in your ad set until it’s clear one is performing better. As soon as that happens, the highest-performance ad will be shown more prominently than the others. Because of the nature Facebook rotates their ads, if you would like to have your ads display more evenly over the lifetime of an ad set, you need to separate your ads into different ad sets. Even if this rotation is automatic, it still requires a lot of work.
To this end, AdStage can help you rotate your ads with a feature called Flighting, which allows you to cycle a selected set of Campaigns, Ad Groups, and Ads. Once the first group of ads meets the time condition selected, those will be paused and the next step will be enabled.
Ad Scheduling (aka. Dayparting)
On Your Own: 2 hours per month
Unless you run a local business, showing your ads to your prospects at the right time can be a tiresome process. The prospects who live in the East Coast may be receiving ads that aren’t relevant at their time zone, which means you end up wasting money on people who aren’t likely to convert.
In some cases, it’s easy to know when your ads are more likely to be effective. For example, if you run a business with limited service hours which will be closed at certain times, you probably want to restrict your ads to run only while your business is open. In this case, you can limit your ads to run from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM Monday to Friday.
In many other cases (like in the case of an e-commerce store), it’s hard to tell beforehand when your ads will perform best. That’s where scheduling your ads to show at specific times, when they have proven to work best, can be a more efficient and time-saving process.
With Automation: 15 Minutes per month
Ad scheduling, also known as “dayparting”, show your ads to the right people at the right time. You can schedule your ads to show at specific hours and days of the week. Your ads will be served your audience’s time zone so you get the results you want.
Both Google AdWords and Facebook offer dayparting in their campaign managers. The problem is they don’t make it easy for you to turn off your campaigns.
AdStage Automate lets advertisers use dayparting through the campaign scheduler. Based on data taken from your previous campaigns, you can show your ads at specific times of the day or week when they have shown to be most effective. This helps you spend your budget as efficiently as possible. Scheduling your ads in Power Editor requires a lifetime budget. With AdStage, in contrast, advertisers have no restrictions on what budget types can be used for scheduling.
On Your Own: 3 hours per month
How many times have you run a campaign and feared it would end up spending more money than you desired? If you measured how much time you spent monitoring your accounts and campaigns, you’d probably gasp at the number. Whether you check in on a campaign’s spend, on your KPIs, or simply troubleshooting problems that show you, logging into accounts to look at the numbers is time-consuming.
With Automation: 15 Minutes
You can end all your worries by receiving a curated list of your accounts and campaigns straight to your inbox. With automation you can set a threshold in relation to a certain metric, and the threshold is hit, you immediately get an email or message. Alerts do all the work for you by sending updates as soon as you over or under spend, make specific adjustments, and anticipate problems before they happen.
Facebook currently doesn’t offer alerts, while Google Adwords does. Google Adwords lets you get the following email notifications:
- Billing alerts
- Campaign maintenance alerts
- Google market research
- Customized help and performance suggestions
- Disapproved ads and policy alerts
- Special offers
AdStage also allows you to create custom alerts to your inbox.
On Your Own: 2 Hours per month
Reporting is a common activity any PPC specialist spends a large deal of time on. The problem is, each time they need a report, they need to log in, pull all the necessary data, organize it, and export it. If they need the same report every a specific period of time, they can end up spending more time than necessary creating those reports.
With Automation: 20 minutes per month
Both Google Adwords and Facebook Ads lets you automate your report creation. The problem with their standard reports is you can’t customize it. For example, you can’t compare the performance of your AdWords and Facebook Ads campaigns. You can’t create standardized templates for reuse. This is not to mention how confusing and ineffective creating reports can be. Neither companies allow you to add graphics or tables. To do that, you you have to export your data and work it on Excel, which can be even more complicated and time-consuming.
AdStage allows you to create custom PPC report templates, and then schedule them as a recurring report (including daily, weekly, or monthly) straight to your inbox. You can also add your team members or clients with ease.
If you are a PPC specialist with too much work and not enough time, this article has shown you the power of automation. Throughout this article, you have seen how automating five tasks in your PPC management can help you save 10 hours (or even more).
Welcome to the May edition of What’s New in AdStage! We spent the last month building a ton of feature enhancements in Report and Automate.
Let’s take a look at the latest and greatest in Report and Automate below👇.
Bring All Your Marketing Data into One PPC Report
New Table Upload Widget
Take any excel, csv, or google sheets data table you have and upload it directly to Report!
Use Table Upload Widgets to Help You:
(1) Measure Return on Ad Spend by Opportunities Closed
- Drop in your monthly opportunity and revenue reports from Salesforce into your cross-channel reporting views.
(2) Track Top-of-Funnel Conversion Trends
- Pull a campaign level performance report from your marketing automation system to see the landing pages or content driving the most conversions from your campaigns.
(3) Get a 360º View of Cross-Channel Top Performers
- Add in metrics from other channels, such as email, event, or organic social performance data.
(4) Add Custom Tables with Google Sheets
- Customize your reporting views using Google Sheets to show data from your custom formulas. When uploading a table from Google Sheets, you’ll always have the most recent data – no need to worry about data accuracy problems 🙌 .
- Get step-by-step help with Google Sheets 👉 How do I upload a Google Sheet into Report?
Save Time Creating Reports with Dashboard Settings
Set Default Data Source at the Dashboard Level
Now you can choose to view data from specific account groups, accounts, folders, campaigns, ad groups, or ads at the dashboard level by setting a ‘Data Source’.
The data source you select in the dashboard settings, will now be the default level for any newly created widget.
Filter Your Performance Data Views Faster
New Widget Creation Layout
The widget fields now have natural language making it easier to breakdown performance data by any level of your ad account, and uncover deeper KPI insights from your reports.
Easily Identify Top Performing Networks at a Glance
We Standardized Network Colors!
Now when you create a cross-network widget, you’ll see each network has a standardized color. These network colors will be consistent across all dashboards and reports.
See Your Copy Next to Your Ads in Performance Tables
Add Headline, Image, and Description Columns to Ad Tables
We added the ability to see ad creative next to performance metrics, so you can diagnose which creatives are working, and what’s not, faster.
Add an ad level table widget to your reports for a side-by-side comparison of winning headline, image, and description combinations.
Sequence Ads Together to Tell Your Brand Story
New Automate Flighting Feature!
Drum roll please……introducing the latest addition to Automate: Flighting!
Now you can show campaigns, ad groups, and ads in an ordered sequence to reach your target audience at every buying stage (resulting in higher CTRs and conversion rates🤑 ).
Top Direct-Response and Brand Awareness Flighting Strategies
(1) Funnel-Based Storytelling
- Increase CTR and conversion rates using a specific series of sequenced ads to walk potential customers down the purchase funnel with relevant call-to-actions.
- For example start with a brand awareness message (Step 1), product information / value proposition message (Step 2), and finally use a targeted CTA to convert potential customers via signup form or make a purchase on product page.
(2) Prime-and-Remind Storytelling
- Use different ad formats to both “prime” people with the brand’s story using video ads, and “remind” people of the video narrative with display ads.
(3) Progressive Promotions
- If you are running a promotion with different percentages off per week, you can flight your ads to show accurately and timely.
- Easily schedule specific times to run your first week 10% Off Promo (Step 1), second week 20% Off Promo (Step 2), and third week 30% Off Promo (Step 3).
Have questions about Flighting? Check out the full product update for Flighting templates and getting started guides.
Let Your Alerts Do the Optimizing for You
Convert Performance Alerts into Optimization Rules with Just One-Click
Now you can easily convert your existing alerts into rules to automate the same actions you’re already taking on your accounts after you receive an email notification.
Your converted rule will have the same conditions as your alert, but now you can specify an optimization condition to apply once the rule is triggered. In other words, you can save yourself a ton of time on performing tedious management tasks.
Common Alert → Rule Use Cases to Save Time & Boost Results
1. Avoid Wasting Spend on High CPA Ad Sets
- IF Cost Per Result > $100 AND Spend > $250
- Using Data from Last 30 Days
- THEN Pause Ad Set
- Run Every 6 Hours
- RUN & EMAIL results
2. Pause Low Performing CTR Ads
- IF Status is Active AND Impressions > 5000 AND CTR < .05%
- Using Data from Last 7 Days
- THEN Pause AD
- Run Every Monday at 10am PST
- RUN & EMAIL results
3. Maximize Your Daily Budget
- IF Spend < $15
- Using Data from Today
- THEN Increase Bid Amount by 30% with Max. Bid = $10
- Run Daily @ 2pm PST
- RUN & EMAIL results
We always love hearing from you! Let us know what you think about the May product updates in the comments below.
P.S. Want to check out the full product release?
Visit our product updates portal, where we’ll be keeping you up-to-date with the latest and greatest from the AdStage labs!