To Automate or Not: The PPC Edition

One key trend that seems to have paid search specialists sitting on the fence right now is automation. But does PPC still need a human touch?

1 Sep 2020

PPC Automation

Paid search is often considered to be a money pit. And to a level, that can be quite accurate – that is, if you’re simply expecting that an increased spend will = increased sales, with no actual strategy, target audience or budget plan.

With huge competition to acquire and win new customers, it’s no wonder that paid search specialists are looking at ways in which to make advertising budgets go further, and for your investment to work harder for you. But amongst all that noise, it’s hard to know which trends are going to be valuable for your business or client.

There is, however, one key trend that seems to have paid search specialists sitting on the fence right now – automation!

What is automation in PPC?

Essentially, this is the process of using AI and machine learning to automatically optimise your ad campaigns. The use of automation in PPC has proven popular due to the amount of time it saves in manual bid management, copy and reporting – freeing you up for more strategic tasks. When setting up Google Ads automation, you will be in control of your budget and spend, and Google will use machine learning techniques to show the right message, “to the right customer, at the right time”.

But how can this be achieved?

Smart Bidding

Smart bidding is a subset of automated bidding strategies that use machine learning to optimise for conversions. This kind of bidding allows for real time bid optimisation, freeing up your time spent on bid maintenance.

Smart Creative Assets

Machine learning cleverly selects the best selection of creative assets for that customer. This can be used in the following three ways:

  • Responsive display ads – your logo, headline, video ad, or images are displayed to the right customer at the right time.
  • Dynamic search ads – Google’s web crawling technology will match relevant search queries to your website depending on your content, to increase incremental traffic.
  • Responsive search ads – this method allows you to create an ad that adapts to show more text, and with automated testing of ads, Google can identify the best performing ad text.

The holy grail for the future of PPC?

Not necessarily. But there are some genuine benefits which cannot be ignored. For example, better budget spends; the reduced need for manual performance analysis, and the opportunity to reach your target audience in what is a very competitive market for many businesses.

Whilst automation will undoubtedly free up a huge amount of admin time, and free you up for more strategic tasks – automation isn’t a one size fits all concept.

The lost keyword….

Once you’ve set up your campaign parameters, you just leave Google and its machine learning to do its thing, right? Not so fast! Keywords and trends change rapidly, and if you’re not able to identify and act quickly to rectify this, you could well be missing out on those converting clicks which make you money! The tool is only as good as the user!

A computer first has to learn….

Google states that it could take up to 2 weeks before machine learning is effective for your campaigns. That is because a machine first has to learn, and therefore if you’re only ever going to be running small and short campaigns – automation PPC might not be for you at this time.


Once you or your team are in the habit of relying on automated campaigns and have firmly allocated that free time to something else, you run the risk of falling into complacency with your campaigns and missing out on key changes to keyword performance, or worse – losing money! This is especially true if you’re running PPC campaigns on behalf of clients.

The verdict

It’s clear there are some fantastic benefits to using automation in PPC. However, it’s not to be seen as a substitute for having that human touch. When working with clients, it’s important to assess on a case by case basis. Where you’re working with huge clients with large and frequent spends, this could be a fantastic way to optimise campaigns and really deliver that ROI. But if not, then perhaps the traditional way is the best way… for now! While you’re here, why not check out our latest PPC jobs?

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