Posted by & filed under Google Ads Tips, PPCChat.

This week’s PPCChat session was hosted by Robert Brady where he put across a range of questions around PPC Automation, tools for automation, when it can be used, the potential automation task in 2018 and more.

Here is the screencap of the discussion that took place.


ppcchat discussion


Q1: What features/tools/etc. do you consider to be automation?


Any time a process in a PPC account is replicated by a program, rather than a human manager. – @robert_brady

Any tool or feature paid/free that makes manual actions easier for an account. Could be performance related, reporting, or setting up. – @_GilHong

Automated rules, 3rd party bidding tools, scripts – @okhannahko

Giant tools like, but also business feeds, product data, rules & scripts. Robots come in all kinds of sizes! – @JuliaVyse

Anything leading to the advertiser being more hands off. Scripts, API pulls, automated rules, etc. – @MilwaukeePPC

Scripts, automated rules, third party bid management systems, built-in AdWords features that leave control in the hands of machine learning – @timothyjjensen

Tools that can automate a repetitive task such as reporting, etc. – @DDP_PPC

Any repetitive task that can be performed by a machine as opposed to manual. Rules, scripts, bulk uploads etc – @clickyricky



Q1.1: Are some features/tools/etc. more semi-automated? Which do you categorize this way?


I look at tools like @Optmyzr as being “semi-automated”. I.e., they use software to identify areas of potential in the account, and then allow the human to make the best decision. – – @PPCKirk

To go back to this question, I think reporting needs to fall more into semi-automated camp then fully automated. Use automation to pull KPIs, but then we still need to dig in and see what happened & communicate to client on regular basis. – @PPCKirk

I agree with this – you can automate the pulling of data, but without context it is not terribly valuable. – @NeptuneMoon

I think all “automated” solutions are essentially semi automated due to needing oversight and check in. – @_GilHong

While its suggestions aren’t on par with something like Optmyzr, the AdWords Opportunities tab could fit this category too – reveals suggestions for your account that you can choose to apply or not – @timothyjjensen

Agreed. Almost all our automation has gates that allow human oversight to approve/push changes – @clickyricky

I feel like most paid search tools are in a way “semi-automated”. While they run on their own (lets say like algo bidding) you’re still going in, making adjustments, and tweaking things based off of performance – @nataliebarreda


Q2: POLL: In what areas are you already using automation?



  • 56% Bidding
  • 22% SQR analysis
  • 0% Activate/pause keywords
  • 22% Other

Reporting, Bidding, Programmatic buying first come to mind. Scripts here and there. I’d say this is definitely one of my biggest areas of opportunity – @nataliebarreda

We need an “All of the above” option! – @PPCKirk

How (or why) would you automate activating certain keywords? What would be the trigger criteria for that? – @MarkIrvine89

I can see it more on the pausing side of things. For seasonal activation, I prefer grouping by ad groups and just enabling the whole AG. – @PPCKirk

Reporting, ad scheduling, bid adjustments, feeds, removing fruit from my desserts. – @MilwaukeePPC


Q3: What is the biggest gain (in efficiency, dollars, etc.) that you have seen with the adoption of automation? What was the automation?


I’d still have to say our use of @WeAreShape for cross-channel budget tracking. I used to spend SO much time weekly/daily keeping up on what budgets were where. – @PPCKirk

Reporting can definitely take up a lot of time! Getting one set up and automated in a client-receptive format can be key. – @_GilHong

This is SO bone simple – but automating spend limits and starting campaigns has saved a ton of angst since we implemented it – @ferkungamaboobo

Sometimes CPA bidding (depends), using tools like Optmyzr & automated custom reports, sometimes automated rules – @marksubel

Whatever you are currently not *actually* doing is a perfect candidate to be automated. – @MarkIrvine89

Ours has been operational savings. Using automation to take care of builds and on-going management means we can scale more efficiently – @clickyricky

The use of A/B testing for Ads tool in Optmyzr is one of my favorites. Adjustable stat sig filters, bulk pause from UI. Life changer. Test with “optimize” rotation for double automation gainz – @Benjamin_Page

Budget Mangement script which monitors monthly budgets and can shut down campaigns at a certain spend. Efficiency gain was my sanity and lower blood pressure. – @KurtHenninger


Q3.1 Seeing a lot of budget answers. Is this do to AdWords getting a little loose with budgets recently?


I think it’s more about the proliferation of cross-channel management. For us, we are using the script to monitor #AdWords overages w/ the changes, though. – @Benjamin_Page

Not for us, keeping up on budgets has always been a tricky thing, especially cross-channel. – @PPCKirk


Q4: On the flip side, what automation has been the biggest disappointment to you? Why?


Google’s automated targeting (Target ROAS for us) when there are timely, significant bid changes in the space (single day big changes, like Black Friday for example). – @PPCKirk

Kind of niche, but I’ve been using Maximize Conversions in an AdWords Grants account (since it can exceed $2 bid) and it has not impressed despite good volume & data in the campaigns. – @robert_brady

My downsides come from over automating when there are easier ways. – @armondhammer

“Easy” automation is rough in complex goal planning. If you’ve got multiple goal signals (A sale and a trial download, for example), simple automation signals will weigh your goals evenly in most cases. Be aware of this as you build automated systems. –  @MarkIrvine89

Overall lack of transparency can cause more issues than it solves – it’s hard to explain why something was done when you didn’t do it & can’t see the reasoning. – @NeptuneMoon

Bid strategies in AdWords, proceed with caution! – @Benjamin_Page

The “Optimize” rotation setting – @timothyjjensen

I’ve been running a lot of experiments using Googles smart bidding, the max convs failed to deliver better than manual bids overlaid with script bid mods – @clickyricky


Q5: What automation do you think has the most potential in 2018?


*Unpopular opinion* Ad Copy. No one tests ad copy as much as they want to (read: say they do) and it’s painfully laborsome. Yes, not all variants will perform well, but there’s so much more room for improvement here. – @MarkIrvine89

I think account structuring (not DSAs) can have a lot of potential from a semi-automated standpoint. – @_GilHong

I would like to see vastly improved understanding of complex conversions. It’s just not there yet. – @NeptuneMoon

Using automation to fight ad fatigue on social. @jdprater

Messenger Bots, hands down. We are starting to roll out bots for promotions a building audiences for new product promotions. Much better than email so far. – @DDP_PPC

I’m going to mirror @MarkIrvine89. Humans are needed for overall initial ad copy ideas, and then I say let the machines automate variations based on winners. – @PPCKirk

Less of tactical automation & more automation of data generation, but I’m really excited to see what the publishers are going to provide us access to on the audiences front. I feel like we got access to quite a bit of auto generated data last year & I hope that grows – @nataliebarreda

Definitely more control over ad scheduling by dates in Facebook. If they could just copy/paste from AdWords that would be FANTASTIC. – @timmhalloran

I’d like to see bid automation improve in distinguishing between multiple conversion points that have different value & optimizing around longer sales funnel results –  @timothyjjensen


Q6: How do you get buy-in, either internally or with clients, for testing automation? Or are you just going for it?


I’ve found the logic of being proactive vs reactive is usually well received. Automation is coming if we like it or not. – @robert_brady

It’s often easier to ask forgiveness rather than for permission. Few are going to be excited about you delegating your work to a heartless robot or Google. Hell, half the time I say “since Google will be doing this soon anyways, let’s get experience with it now” – @MarkIrvine89

Usually set up a task force to test and vet for the rest of the team. If it’s going to directly affect client performance, we talk through the implications and expectations with the client first. – @_GilHong

Most clients i’ve dealt with are already looking for the latest. They want to hear those kinds of proposals. Internally, testing is encouraged and left up to the individual. – @DDP_PPC

I love explaining Experiments to clients when seeking buy-in for automated bidding because it cuts the perceived risk in half and allows them to really see the value that could be gained (or failure that could be avoided) with more clarity. – @akaEmmaLouise

Part 1 – Internally the biggest battle is “does it really work?” but everyone is so thrilled with potential efficiency gains that we’re all just willing to try it. – @nataliebarreda

Part 2 – For clients, I’ve been providing proactive testing plans for the quarter/year and have just baked that into the tests. Many clients are skeptical, but setting a framework on how we will test, measure success and adjust if unsuccessful helps mitigate that #ppcchat  – @nataliebarreda

I’m facing this question right now, but it’s a complicated question when your client has a billion pieces of content and you have different goals for different levels of the funnel and a long buyer’s journey.-  @PPCHartman

Just go for it. It’s part of doing PPC/social w/ us. Unless it costs money. We set-up some third-party automation to get leads sent to client’s CRM and just paid for the software ourselves. Worth it when you can re-use it for multiple clients. – @timmhalloran


Q7: What is the most “dangerous” automation? Why?


Reporting that a human doesn’t look at before the client sees it. – @robert_brady

Automation based on incorrect or incomplete data. – @PPCKirk

Automation toward dumb goals. “Target search page location”, or “Maximize clicks” is too easy a sell if you don’t think about it. – @MarkIrvine89

Basically anything that might lead to a bidding war (esp. when you and competition are both using automation)! Related to A8. Need to have some kind of fail-safe or QA in case things go cray  – @akaEmmaLouise

Natural evolution. I look for upsells where necessary and I refuse to recommend things the client won’t benefit from – @JuliaVyse

Yes and no. There’s always long term path & plan, but I always prepare for the inevitable monkey wrench: A new CEO who wants different KPIs, a new product, a site launch, a response to a competitor… @PPCHartman

Anything that happens without at least some type of check & balance. Bid strategies when not used as they were intended or w/o enough data. Anything that will have a massive impact on $$ without a proof of concept test – @nataliebarreda

Outbid competition. AKA mutually assured destruction. –  @armondhammer

“Automation” that is pitched by shady competitors and sales reps. Though if you have established trust with your client you should be good. –  @_GilHong


Q8: What safeguards do you have in place to monitor your automation? (and avoid a SkyNet or Hawaii missile alarm situation)


Calendar reminders, regularly reviewing performance, and regularly reporting on whatever automated thing was implemented – @nataliebarreda

There is no substitute for logging in and looking at accounts you’re responsible for. Also, setting alerts for really bad stuff is always wise. – @NeptuneMoon

For me it’s calendar reminders to go check on things at set intervals – @robert_brady

A8.2 (example) – For accounts with automated rules to bid up keywords based on certain criteria, I also have rules to bid down keywords. We’ve found targeting top positions for some accounts isn’t effective, so we bid down when position and CPA get too high. – @akaEmmaLouise


PPCChat Participants


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