Oct 2 2018
Basis Technologies

Automating PPC with the New Google Ads


The world of online advertising saw a historic shift at the end of June 2018, as Google rebranded the nearly 18-year-old Adwords platform under the name Google Ads. The rebranding effort goes far beyond mere marketing semantics, both simplifying Google’s advertising options and offering unprecedented opportunities for automating PPC campaigns.

The renaming and re-organizing effort was part of a threefold transformation, in which the following new platforms were created:

  1. Google Ads, which brings machine learning to Adwords
  2. Google Marketing Platform, which combines DoubleClick and Google Analytics 360
  3. Google Ad Manager, which combines DoubleClick for Publishers and DoubleClick Ad Exchange

For the purposes of automating PPC campaigns, the infusion of Adwords with machine learning is of the most interest. Specifically, there are at least five significant ways that marketers can automate PPC campaigns through Google Ads. Not every one of these is entirely new, but they’re all becoming more advanced under the new Google Ads umbrella. This post will highlight the major automation opportunities.

Automate PPC Campaigns Across Google Properties with Smart Campaigns

Smart Campaigns is now the default for new advertisers who begin using Google Ads, and it’s ideal for most small- and medium-sized businesses that want to run PPC campaigns. Businesses that would prefer to use Adwords Express or Local Services Ads still can for now, but Smart Campaigns—which is already superior to basic PPC with Google—provides much better results and has a much farther reach.

Through Smart Campaigns, businesses can automate many facets of PPC campaigns, including:

  • Targeting
  • Goals-based bidding (see “Smart Bidding”)
  • Ad and landing page generation (coming soon)

Currently, the biggest improvement is the ability to automate bidding across multiple Google properties. Because Google Ads encompasses Google Search, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Play and more, marketers can set up their parameters for one campaign and reach up to billions of people across multiple platforms without needing to create separate campaigns for each Google property.

In the future, the ability to automate ads and corresponding landing pages promises even higher efficiencies and greater returns on investment than campaigns you see today. The data used for this automation will come from Google My Business (GMB), so managing data in GMB is going to become increasingly important.

Basic parameters that aren’t frequently changed, such as budget, language and target location, will still be set manually in Smart Campaigns. Additionally, businesses can turn off automation where they’d like a marketer to manually manage campaigns. Thus, marketers can automate PPC campaigns in which doing so would be cost-effective and manually take over when leveraging their own expertise would help improve results.

Automate App Performance with Universal App Campaigns

Originally launched in May 2015, Universal App Campaigns is now being marketed under the Google Ads header but remains largely true to its original purpose. This platform is designed to help app developers (including businesses that have apps) maximize installs and in-app conversions.

Universal App Campaigns accomplishes its performance targets by automating targeting, bidding and creative elements (based on IOS and/or Android listings). The automation works to achieve the best results possible given the set budget and desired goals.

Since this portion of Google Ads hasn’t actually changed a lot with the rebranding, running app campaigns still involves a fair amount of manual work. In addition to location, language, budget and target cost per result, which are all required, marketers are also asked if they would like to provide ad text, images, videos or HTML5 assets to help the platform generate relevant materials.

App-based campaigns aren’t right for every business, but this platform will only increase in importance as app usage continues to grow. For businesses that have apps, Universal App Campaigns can play an integral role in the overall online marketing strategy.

Automate Goal-Focused Shopping Campaigns

For online retailers, the most important component of Google Ads is Shopping Campaigns. Shopping Ads accounted for 60 percent of the paid traffic that retailers saw from Google in Q1 2018. It’s also through Shopping Campaigns that these ads are now automated, with capabilities spread across both platforms and multiple ad types.

On Google Shopping, machine learning uses data from at least 20 transactions during the past 45 days to determine what bids will provide the best return. Returns can be maximized for sales value or return on advertising spending. On the Google Display Network, the platform runs automated retargeting campaigns to increase brand awareness and re-engage potential customers.

Being able to automate shopping and retargeting ads is especially helpful to retailers, which regularly create separate ads for hundreds or thousands of products. Even manually developing unique ads for dozens of items is too time-consuming. The efficiencies that Shopping Campaigns provide help retail businesses reach more customers, reduce their marketing expenditures and increase their overall return on ad spending (ROAS).

When running campaigns through Google Shopping, it’s particularly important to work with an experienced PPC marketer. Because these campaigns combine shopping and retargeting ads, the corresponding reports sometimes include data on customers that would have returned independent of any additional retargeting efforts. An experienced marketer will know how to account for customers who would have returned even if they didn’t see retargeting ads, and the marketer will be able to adjust the reports accordingly so that they show true ROI and ROAS numbers.

Bid More Effectively with Smart Bidding

Google’s bidding concept is at least as old as Adwords. The way businesses bid for PPC ads, however, has undergone significant changes over the past 18 years.

Google Ads represent yet another step away from cost-per-click and a step toward other metrics. Businesses can now optimize their bidding strategy for cost-per-action, ROAS or another measurement. Additionally, bidding is overall more efficient because there’s much more data for Google to consider during auctions. Signals such as the device, language, daypart and location all impact how automated bidding auctions fare.

The increased effectiveness, combined with improved metrics, make a big difference to businesses. Bidding more effectively has obvious benefits, and businesses can see those benefits more clearly by using measurements that are directly tied to their main objectives. Rather than running multiple calculations based on CPC, Google will now do those calculations automatically, making the cost of a particular action clear in the reports.

Of course, businesses should still have a knowledgeable PPC marketer set up and monitor their PPC campaigns. Although Google is able to take into account many variables, there are still some items that machine learning can’t yet consider. Adjusting for these unique factors is where a knowledgeable PPC marketer can make a big difference.

Get More Traffic with Dynamic Search Ads

Dynamic Search Ads have been around for several years, but now that it’s part of Google Ads, it’s especially useful to retailers, particularly large ones that have lots of rotating inventory, as it may be more closely integrated with other PPC efforts.

The main purpose of Dynamic Search Ads is to keep large websites’ advertisements in sync with the products that they currently have available. Whenever a site displays a decent result for a search term but doesn’t have a relevant ad already created, the platform will search Google’s organic index of the site for a relevant page. If one is found, a corresponding ad will automatically be created and displayed among the paid search results. The ad typically has a headline, and bid settings can be manually created or automated.

As anyone who’s managed a website that lists lots of products knows, being able to automate ad creation is essential, and Dynamic Search Ads makes that automation possible.

Automate Your PPC Campaigns

The new Google Ads offers many ways to automate PPC campaigns:

  • Smart Campaigns makes it possible to automate PPC activity across Google properties
  • Universal App Campaigns specializes in maximizing app installs and in-app conversions
  • Shopping Campaigns leverages Shopping Ads and retargeting for higher returns
  • Smart Bidding places bids according to metrics that matter to businesses
  • Dynamic Search Ads creates ads for large websites automatically

The option that is right for your website will depend on the conversions you’re looking for and the size of the site. But there’s likely at least one (if not several) platform in Google Ads that is right for you and your business.