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This week’s PPCChat session was hosted by Timothy Jensen where PPC experts discussed about auto optimization, examples of good and bad auto optimization settings, testing its effectiveness, automation trends to look out for in future and more.

Here is the screencap of the discussion that took place.


ppcchat discussion


Q1 Do you use automation features in your PPC management?


All the time. As long as you have a process then use automation to reduce manual work – @jdprater

I’m fine with automation when I can measure and see it’s improving results (or saving me lots of time). Hate the black boxes. – @robert_brady

Sure. Facebook and I test it out on AdWords & Bing and keep it where it makes sense. – @duanebrown

Absolutely! Automation is a must when managing PPC in 2018. While I think testing manual is beneficial, there is just so many data points considered in Smart Bidding! Embrace automation! I’ve seen a lot of old school manual bidders run into problems! – @markpgus


Q2 What are some examples of auto-optimization settings you’ve generally seen work well?


Target CPA is usally super effective in Adwords however i usually do see lower impression share so try to avoid this on Brand campaigns. – @KyleShurtz

Auto bidding on both Facebook and AdWords has worked well for me (when you’ve got enough volume).  – @robert_brady

Double checking negative keyword conflict, and bidding to name a few . – @duanebrown

Automated budding in AdWords has been fantastic! I’ve seen a lot of success with maximize conversions especially for lead gen! As long as you have a steady flow of conversions in, this can work wonders. – @markpgus

CPA target is my favorite, we also do time of day/demo bidding which is key for select transitional clients (ie restaurants) – @JonKagan


Q3 What are some examples of auto-optimization settings you’ve generally seen work poorly?


Maximize clicks and conversions seems to work well for google (higher ctr and lower conversion rate) – @KyleShurtz

Agreed. I’ve always tried to shy away from looking too far into maximize click numbers as they are hardly reliable. – @chrisgoagency

When automated bidding is recommended with few or no conversions it’s pretty much going to fail. – @dotcentrex

tCPA usually sends my AVG CPC through the roof to unsustainable levels. I’ve found that max conversions works way better for me. – @Ayo_Af

not in all cases, but I have seen some very questionable results when switching from manual to enhanced CPC.. far more confident in target CPA when talking about automated bidding! –@marcusknight

I’ve learned to be cautious with new tools, like new bidding strategies. For example, ROAS bidding works well now, but was horrible when it was first introduced. – @bloomarty

the lifetime budgets. they often don’t match the objective and will just accelerate spend no matter what. – @JuliaVyse

While I personally love maximize conversions for some clients, it tends to be inconsistent week to week. I actually started reporting less frequently for one client because our monthly numbers were great but we would have an unreal week followed by a bad one.  – @markpgus

Auto placements on GDN. – @NeptuneMoon


Q4: Which platform do you trust the most to hold the reigns for optimizing your campaigns, and which do you trust the least?


If it comes to running basic algorithms based on data, then all of them equally. Once we get into the predictive stuff, then I trust those with the best data. E.g.,for optimizing to demographics, I trust FB more than Google because much better data. – @PPCKirk

#SEMrush! It goes beyond PPC management and analytics to provide you with other aspects of your web presence. It also has your usual straightforward keyword search utilities! – @chrisgoagency

I don’t trust any of them, but since you asked in relative terms, I’d say I trust FB the most and AdWords the least. – @robert_brady

For basic IFTTT functionality, ad rotations, alerts, & monitoring I trust @adstage. On Facebook, I pretty much let them control everything. – @jdprater

I’ll say I trust FB for bidding. I think it’s just difficult to figure it out. I also heard from Perpetual Traffic from @DigitalMktr straight from FBs mouth that manual bidding doesn’t really get you better results. DON’T TRUST LINKEDIN! I guess it’s not really automated, but the suggested bids can be laughable sometimes. I think inflating those numbers is a pretty dirty tactic on their part! – @markpgus

Take each client on any platform with a grain of salt. Test and see if it works. If it does then keep it going on Google, Facebook…ect. Otherwise try something new. Try to be platform agnostic.  – @duanebrown

I know this sort of a cop out answer but my trust in the platform depends on the client. There’s just certain accounts I trust to hold the reigns based on historical data. Whether that’s AW, FB or LI. BUT – if I had to choose one then Facebook. – @timmhalloran

with the controversial question! I have to say, AdWords. I have ZERO trust in Facebook right now for various reasons. Bing is good, less than perfect. And YouTube is…. improving.  – @JuliaVyse


Q5 What approach do you use for testing the effectiveness of an auto-optimization setting?


Not proud to admit, but sometimes brief run, reviewing before/after gets us by. When it promises to be major part of campaign, we will set up experiment. – @heyglenns

I like to use Experiments if I’m testing in AdWords, and give it roughly two weeks (depending on size of account). Then I look at WoW to see if the algorithms are learning properly to determine if test should continue through 30D and be applied. One comment with Experiments for automated bidding is to keep in mind that you’re only giving a portion of traffic to the algorithm, so it’s best to use if your conv volume more than doubles the recommended minimum. – @akaEmmaLouise

I do mainly trial and error mainly but want to utilize experiments more! – @KyleShurtz

Honestly, trial and error. Go with your basic instinct for what you or your team thinks worst best. Adapt and adjust your campaign from that point moving forward. – @chrisgoagency

Experiments all day. They take 5 minutes or less to set up. – @AndyAdvertise

Bidding: Experiments FTW! Ad Testing: I just throw up a bunch of them and then analyze them all afterwards. I thencreate variations of top ads . It’s the same process as before, but I don’t have to worry about wasting 1/2 my spend! the platform won’t allow it!  – @markpgus


Q6 What advice would you share with new PPC’ers about using these settings?


Make sure you have (1) enough data and (2) the right data. Algos are only as good as their data. Too little and they make bad decisions. Inaccurate data and they make bad decisions. – @PPCKirk

Be as skeptical about automation as any old school PPC’er and only rely on it when you’re sure it’s working. –@marcusknight

Test and learn. (Rinse and repeat.) No, in all seriousness look at your current strategy and always consider new or different ways to test in your account. Document a testing plan and then try. If something tanks or doesn’t work stop, and revert back to what did. – @ChristiJOlson

Never turn your back on automation. That’s when it gets you.- @robert_brady

Always ask questions and even question the analysis of those senior to you – we miss things! Learn what you can but don’t become addicted to one platform – and every client is different. – @amaliaefowler

A6. ALWAYS know the data reqs for any automated bidding you want to test. Google and Facebook both suggest conv volume/week or month that will allow for proper optimization. Don’t use automated bidding if you can’t hit those mins in some way.  – @akaEmmaLouise

Before turning to automated bidding, think about how you would do it manually. If there is little data so that you wouldn’t know what to do, an automated approach will also be at a loss. If there’s enough data, go for it. – @bloomarty

A6: You need to know your stuff! Automation is NOT an easy solution that takes no knowledge or talent. Having a deep understandjng on PPC (manual strategies) really is important even if you end up relying on automation. You need to know WHAT the strategy does!  – @markpgus


Q7 What automation trends do you predict for the future of PPC?


I hope I’m wrong, but I see platforms replacing some manual settings with automation, they’re so sure the algos can do better job. I don’t dispute that, but I still need settings to divine what’s going on & explain to client. – @heyglenns

Me as well. I see it with smart goals in Analytics – you’re telling me something was accomplished, but that’s not helpful when my client asks “what was it” and I can’t answer because you won’t let me see. – @amaliaefowler

Big time growth in Facebook, and as we touched upon earlier, LinkedIn budgets. – @chrisgoagency

I don’t know if it will ever happen, but I pray to the PPC Gods every night that we will get more insight into automation. I think transparency really is important and showing us what data points are being considered would be amazing – @markpgus

I know predictions and wish list are not the same, but I HOPE that the future of automation means more time for strategy because the algos are working more effectively. I FEAR it will mean more time spent determining why performance shifts, to explain it to clients. – @akaEmmaLouise


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