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Over the course of the last few years, marketing automation has become so sophisticated that it’s essential for success in today’s digital landscape. The benefits of automation are many: time savings, better audience targeting, better performance attribution, the elimination of wasted spend, driving increased revenue… the list goes on. The key to success in Google Adwords automation today is less about what you should automate, but how. In this article, we offer a complete overview of the best solutions for automating SEM in 2019.
Google AdWords (recently renamed Google Ads) is a frontrunner in developing solutions to automate and optimize advertising. They continue to roll out new tools that help marketers automate their PPC and display advertising efforts. While the key decisions are best made by PPC managers, the internal automation features of Google Ads can empower you to discover new targeting opportunities, improve ad performance, optimize bid strategies, and more. The growing list of Google Adwords automation features advertisers can take advantage of in 2019 include:
Responsive Search Ads
Responsive Search Ads, or RSAs, are a major new form of automation Google Ads rolled out in 2018. They’re still in beta and only available in a handful of countries. However, you can expect they’ll grow in use and importance in 2019.
RSAs can be likened to messaging optimization technology. For each ad you provide, multiple headlines and ad descriptions can be used in combination. Google automatically displays and tests different versions of your ad, using up to 15 headlines and four descriptions for each ad. This allows them to identify the content most closely matched to the search queries your target audience uses.
Smart Campaigns are the new default campaign type when you sign-up for Google Ads. They’re designed to help small, location-based businesses optimize their advertising campaigns.
With this campaign type, you create your ad text and set a budget, then Google helps you with targeting. Smart ads appear when people in your target geographic area search for phrases related to your business on Google or Google Maps. They can also appear for people who search for terms related to your business and business location. Advertisers can forgo the default Smart Campaign option to choose which aspects of their strategy they want to handle manually or through automation.
At the time of writing, Smart Campaigns automate targeting and goal-based bidding. In the future they will also automate landing page generation based on Google My Business (GMB) data. This will be a valuable feature for businesses that don’t have landing pages on a native website.
Goal-Optimized Shopping Campaigns
The second major automated feature Google Ads launched in 2018 was goal-optimized Shopping Campaigns. This new campaign type automates ad creation and bidding, saving advertisers time on campaign management and optimization. All you have to do is set a specific marketing goal and Google will optimize your campaign to achieve it. Using automation and machine learning, Google can predict which search queries are the most relevant to your products. Google then presents your ad accordingly in search results, on the display network, YouTube, or Gmail.
Their algorithms take a number of signals into consideration simultaneously, including product characteristics, time of day, browser, geolocation, past search habits, and more. Realistically, goal-optimized Shopping Campaigns are able to make targeting decisions that would be impossible for a PPC manager.
AdWords Automated Bidding
Automated Bidding has been the most valuable AdWords automation feature for advertisers since its launch. Day-to-day practitioners don’t have time to manually adjust the max CPC for individual keywords to optimize their campaigns. Automated Bidding can take care of this task, optimizing max CPC based on specific goals. Google ads offers six major bid strategies based on different marketing goals:
Smart Bidding relies on machine learning and your chosen bid strategy to set the right bid for each auction. It also factors in important signals at auction-time, including location, time of day, device, remarketing list, and more.
Local Campaigns is another new automation feature that helps location-based businesses promote their stores and products in search, Maps, YouTube, and on the Display Network. Advertisers provide ad copy, a bid, and a few assets and the rest is automated. With the singular goal of driving in-store conversions, Google automatically optimizes ad placement, bids, and asset combinations. When people use Google Maps or local search to find businesses, your ads can appear based on your location and relevant queries. Local campaigns can even automatically display product discounts or other assets to maximize conversions.
Universal App Campaigns
Universal App Campaigns have been around for a while, and they’re one of the few fully automated advertising options on AdWords. With these campaigns you can choose between two goals: drive more app installs or more in-app conversions. App campaigns can automate:
Ad creation - It pulls information from your app store listing to create text ads. Google systems automatically create different ad versions and test to see which perform better.
Targeting - Google automatically displays your ads on different networks for the right audience based on your goals. They match your ads to relevant search terms and ads can appear on Google Search, Google Play, YouTube, the Display Network, AdMob, and more.
Bidding - Google will optimize bidding based on your marketing objectives: more installs, driving in-app actions, or driving in-app action value.
These are just a few examples of the many Adwords automation features that advertisers can employ this year and beyond. Others include:
Dynamic Search Ads - Create targeted ads using Google's index of your website.
Automated Rules - Make account changes automatically using conditional settings. Change your ad status, budget, bids, and more.
Recommendations - These suggestions to improve your campaigns automatically analyze performance and derive insights for you.
The list will continue to grow. The options your business should choose depend on your niche, strategy, and many other factors. Businesses that take full advantage of Google’s automation features are well-positioned to optimize performance in 2019.
Google is encouraging automation as a default setting across the platform. However, as more businesses employ these features, it will become more difficult to stay ahead of the competition. What many advertisers don’t realize is that there are various automation technologies beyond what Google Ads has to offer. These unique solutions make it possible to better optimize ad creation, targeting, bidding and a whole lot more.
Here are some of the many benefits of using third-party tools for AdWords Automation in 2019:
Comprehensive Data Analysis
Google AdWords automation utilizes all the relevant PPC data in their arsenal to automate insights and optimize campaigns for their advertisers. However, consumer digital footprints reach far beyond Google properties. There’s so much more data relating to market trends and audience behavior that advertisers can use to create and optimize their advertising campaigns. It doesn’t matter how great your automation algorithms are if you don’t have the deep, quality data to analyze.
There are a great deal of internal and external factors that can impact the value, relevance, and targeting of your PPC advertising campaigns. If you want to truly maximize campaign performance based on data insights, you must be able to analyze and automate decisions on a centralized platform. Third-party automation technologies can use unified data analysis to make smarter bidding decisions for your efforts on Google, Bing, and other advertising platforms. Powerful solutions can use third-party data, offline information, and other deep funnel metrics, such as:
Unified data analysis empowers you to get a clear picture of the whole customer journey, the state of your business, and other important market factors. You can use this information to accurately infer the likelihood a click will lead to a conversion, and the value of that conversion.
Nuanced Bid Automation
Google already has sophisticated bid automation capabilities, leading many advertisers to ignore the third-party solutions out there. Yet while Google does allow you to customize your automated bidding by choosing one of six strategies, third-party solutions go the extra mile and offer more nuanced options that you can customize to your complex business goals.
In the real marketing world, there’s no single key performance indicator (KPI) that fully illustrates your progress in achieving a marketing goal. Instead of choosing a single metric for bid automation, the best third-party solutions allow you to use a custom combination of KPIs such as conversions, profit, or revenue.
You can also choose exactly what data you want bidding algorithms to utilize to calculate adjustments. Use integrations with other business tools or database upload to incorporate any relevant data into the system, including all publisher data regarding costs, Campaigns, Ad Groups, Keyword Type, historical revenue, deep funnel or offline revenue data, and more internal metrics.
Google stress the importance of targeting micro-moments with your marketing message. Micro-moments are, they say, “intent-driven moments of decision-making and preference-shaping that occur throughout the entire consumer journey.”
In order to deliver the right marketing message to the right audience at the right time, you need to be able to act quickly on your data insights as they come in. Advertising automation technologies with machine learning capabilities can understand the intentions behind audience behavioral data and make quick changes to take advantage of them.
Solutions that take one or two days to incorporate new data into your bid calculations are going to fall behind. If you want your advertising strategy to stay competitive, you need to use best-in-class technology that identifies and acts on data insights in real time. Making instant adjustments to your AdWords campaigns greatly improves the efficiency and precision of your efforts. You can gain more opportunities and make your ads more timely. These quick decisions also help reduce wasted ad spend because you never operate without the latest data insights on hand.
Historical Performance Insights
Maximizing AdWords performance isn’t just about acting on changes and opportunities in your recent market data. How your advertising campaigns have performed in the past can provide major insights to improve your current efforts. By aggregating audience and performance data in a centralized platform, you can identify patterns in market behavior and advertising strategy.
You’ll be able to answer questions like:
Historical performance data is particularly valuable for bid optimization. Using the data and context of your past performance, automated bidding platforms infer future performance and make changes to maximize business value.
There are many solutions that keep and utilize a limited amount of historical data that can inform strategies moving forward. To gain the most value, though, it’s important to store and fully utilize all the past performance data available. Using machine learning technology, automation can improve progressively when it comes to understanding future bid optimization opportunities and make necessary adjustments to take advantage of them.
This is called predictive analytics, and it’s nothing new. The finance industry has been using statistical models of past historical data to effectively predict market changes for decades. Applying it to the advertising industry allows you to effectively see around corners and make quick decisions to maximize performance and stay ahead of the curve.
Full Automation Capabilities
Most advanced AdWords advertisers understand that they cannot automate certain aspects of their optimization strategy. They pick and choose which aspects they want Google’s automation features to handle, then make manual changes when necessary. For example, they can make manual bid adjustments after considering historical performance data that Google’s automation technology doesn’t factor in.
But when you combine a complete, quality data set with a decision engine based on machine learning technology, it’s possible to fully automate a much larger number of processes. The volume of actionable data available today greatly exceeds what a marketing manager or a whole team of data scientists can humanly process. That is not to say that PPC managers are being rendered obsolete. It simply means they can spend more time identifying new opportunities for growth. This makes full automation capabilities even more essential for SEM success.
Google Ads continues to develop a wide range of new automation capabilities that smart marketers will take advantage of. But all the useful data insights you need to drive automation success can’t be found on Google properties. If you want to stand out from the competition (who are also adopting automation at an alarming rate), you need a technology that can maximize data insights for nuanced campaign optimization.