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Automation in PPC has become a necessity as it allows to improve performance by maximizing time and resources. Hosted by Julie F Bacchini, this week’s session focused on the types of automation experts use regularly, do they use any automation tools, the type of automation they will be interested and more.

Q1: What are your general thoughts and/or attitude toward automation in PPC?

I will admit, I have a natural resistance to automation in PPC. But, I also know that it is inevitable so, I’d best be figuring out how to use it well/effectively! How good the current automation levels are is another story… @NeptuneMoon

Automation sounds “sexy” and great in theory but often falls short in execution – like most “PPC Expert Tools” that make terrible recommendations with a shiny “Accept” button @yaelconsulting

My general thoughts are that it’s a good idea. You can’t effectively manage 5+ channels without robot support. Now, who is doing the automation is a whole other thing! @JuliaVyse

I just did a talk on this! My mindset towards automation is actually pretty positive thanks to some experts in our industry who have helped me switch views. My mindset with Google + automation = poor, but that’s on Google, not on automation itself. @amaliaefowler

I don’t like that it is being forced & that in order to use it you lose insights/data. That being said I do test it if I think it can improve client accounts. @selley2134

Overall – great! I am pro automation That said – Google does make it annoying for us atimes and it should ALWAYS be approcahed with caution. Automation doesn’t mean you take your eyes off the ball because the algorithm gets it wrong – a lot! @TheMarketingAnu

It’s a struggle, but very necessary to learn to lean into automation in PPC. Very contrary to how I originally learned PPC. Automation with Google scripts is great. Trends lately are different @KurtHenninger

Love and hate it because at the end of the day, automation is born of humans who are fallible (and we gave our weaknesses to our creation). The time management for grunt work is wonderful, the barrier to entry regarding $$$ invested to teach the system is painful. @navahf

Love automation as a concept. However, the inputs (data) and the way those are processed (the algorithms), as well as the outputs (reporting) can all influence the success (perceived or otherwise) of the automation itself. @PPCKirk

I’m a fan of automated bid strategies. They save me time so I can focus on other optimizations. I always test them against manual to confirm that they improve performance. @FindingAmanda

Automation is something we must all learn to live with, it’s the natural evolution of things. So it comes down to attitude and adaptability. @webjock

Automation has tons of benefits in PPC. If you can automate a repetitive task, that can free up your time, you can then focus on other tasks that will potentially move the needle. I LOVE automation, but prefer the automation allows for some user defined constraints. @BrettBodofsky

Automation is great for rote tasks like bid management. Not so great for choosing keywords, ad copy, etc., esp in B2B. @beyondthepaid

When I think of my day to day, I don’t see myself tapping buttons as someone else directs. I see myself looking at overall strategies for (yes) bigger clients and managing a long term program. That means automation – bots tap the buttons for me! @JuliaVyse

You still need to see what the robots are doing. Good automation does not mean blindness to the activity, like you get in a black box approach such as ALL social media platforms, and nowadays, Google. @JuliaVyse

It’s super-easy to over-generalize here, but in almost every aspect automation is good for scaling. Managing 10 keywords fully manually is easy. Managing 100 is hard, but doable. Managing 100 per client is a full-time job. And uh, that’s not all there is. @ferkungamaboobo

It really should be impossible for a human to compete with the AI. But, for some reason, in reality, it’s really easy. @stevegibsonppc

Q2: What types of automation, if any, do you use regularly in your PPC accounts?

Smart bidding, RSA’s, scripts (but not uniformly across the board) @amaliaefowler

Third party bidding tools, scripts, RSAs @beyondthepaid

I don’t even use “Maximize Conversions” or “Enhanced” settings on Google @jstatad

Smart Bidding, DSAs, Third-Party bidding, Dynamic on microsites, merchant centres on ecom….@JuliaVyse

Keep track of pacing & KPIs, building/updating reports, see account snapshots (SuperMetrics is key to my day to day). Testing of “smart” campaigns in small pieces of accounts. @selley2134

Bid automation, placements, scripts, RSA in Google ADs. Working on using DSA in Google Ads more. It has come a long way. @KurtHenninger

Bidding (both strategies and rules on smaller accounts), importing between @GoogleAds and @MSFTAdvertising, and *gasp* Responsive Search/Display ads (I don’t like the Facebook equivalent because I don’t get insights into engagements + comments). @navahf

Purposefully? AdWords Scripts is one I would willingly add to my accounts. There are several other ones we have no choice about. Although – yes there are a few Smart…., that I haven’t checked yet that I would test if given the chance. TEST – not just plug & play @TheMarketingAnu

I used to be an “I WILL NEVER USE IT” person but after learning more about ML and automation – started testing it. Sometimes I’ve been proven wrong. If my job is to do what is best for my client, what is best is exploring all options regardless of my biases @amaliaefowler

Following up on A1 to list out all the stuff that you COULD do manually, but why? 1. Monthly budget script – pause spending at $X 2. Bidding on keywords – whether enhanced or automated 3. Ad Copy testing – you’re not actually running a/b tests with Paid Search @ferkungamaboobo

I am experimenting more with RSAs and automated bidding in G Ads. I have a couple of scripts for G Ads I use too. @NeptuneMoon

Yes, I have also tried the automated bidding tools, RSA and DSA @TheMarketingAnu

I have a hard time unlocking on “Automation” in PPC only as a bidding thing. There’s more to it than just bids I guess @jstatad

Scripts for building out reports, smart bidding, @Kenshoo’s plethora of automation features. I like automation that helps me see data that I wouldn’t have uncovered as quickly on my own. @BrettBodofsky

The automation tools I use are -> Google automated bid strategies (tCPA mostly), automated rules, scripts for reporting, and Google Data Studio automated reports. I used Kenshoo in my agency days but it’s overkill for my freelance clients (smol). @FindingAmanda

Also working with Google Sheets for more automated analysis, alerts, and trends Google Ads + Google Sheets FTW @KurtHenninger

Reporting and consolidating data into information for an expert to make an EXPERT decision. Much of a ppc manager’s time is wasted being a detective. Automation (math) can point out the root of an issue. @yaelconsulting

Turning campaigns back on at 12:01am on the 1st of Month – u up? 5. RDAs – I don’t think you actually made a 970×250 image ad or a 1263×600 one, but those are what show on the NYTimes In general, most of PPC is automated, and even more is black-boxed. @ferkungamaboobo

Surprisingly little. I should probably do more with scripts, but that’s about it. @stevegibsonppc

Currently smart bidding, automated placements, dynamic creative, and RSAs. @webjock

Q3: Do you use any tools to help with using automation in your PPC accounts? If so, what do you like and dislike about them?

SuperMetrics – easy to use to create any kind of report. I create monthly reports for clients, daily reports for me, pull data for blog posts, pull data across accounts to find trends, etc. @selley2134

These days its Supermetrics and DV360, but there have been lots of great tools over the years. @JuliaVyse

Right now, mostly scripts. Looking at @Adalysis as an option going forward to help us do more with fewer people. @amaliaefowler

Our current automation tools of choice: @Optmyzr for all things optimizing. Ridiculous how many things there are in this tool. @swydo for our reporting @shape for budget software and projections Moonclerk/Stripe for automated billing (it’s not just management. @PPCKirk

Already established that I’m not using them. What I hate is that they are all ready to turn on right away on something brand new (that’s never had a conversion before) I think you generally need about 45 days of conversion data to even start doing it. @jstatad

Google Sheets and macros help with repetitive tasks (copy paste, ad validation, etc). Helps to keep me out of the ads interface which I find very slow @KurtHenninger

This is where I kinda would be more of a traditional grump – the platforms have entirely fine tools by and large. External tools add another abstract black box on top of an abstract black box. It gets really hard to model what a given input or output would be. @ferkungamaboobo

We use internal proprietary tools. I dislike that we have to build them, but motivated when seeing the alternatives in the market. I love the flexibility to create technology that incorporates automation + expertise + accountability + speed @yaelconsulting

What I like: audience sharing, easier pushes to several platforms, detailed reporting. What I dislike: I am not a programmer! support these dang products and give me ACTUAL troubleshooting help. guh. @JuliaVyse

Back when I used 3rd party tools, my main complaint was that they don’t do time-of-auction bid adjustments like Google automated strategies do. One solution is to use both! kenshoo.com/rakuten-market…#ppcchat My case study @FindingAmanda

Using Search Ads 360 to get all engines in one management center. Then setting up executive reports to have high level dashboards of all data together updated in real time. @sarahhromano

One thing I always struggled with are tools who take ownership over your account for the “gift” of automating them. Won’t name names, but will celebrate ethical brands who help instead of hurt: @Optmyzr @navahf

@Adalysis, @acquisio, Adobe, SA360 @beyondthepaid

No tools currently, I’ve used many 3rd party bidding platforms in the past. @webjock

We also use @Sprinklr for paid social @beyondthepaid

Q4: What types of automation are you interested in testing in your PPC accounts?

I’m pretty excited about Dynamic Creative. The world of the ONE. PERFECT. FILM. is sort of superbowl tv ad for me. I’d rather see cool stuff come together in interesting ways. Then your perfect film can be long form in your content strategy. @JuliaVyse

I would like Smart Shopping ad creative options so we can input multiple images / videos / descriptions / headlines and @GoogleAds can match up the best options based on the user searching. Or even the option of having multiple ads in the same campaign for testing. @PPCKirk

Anything that gives me a level of data on performance and control that I am comfortable with. For this reason, smart campaigns and smart intent (almost anything with the word ‘smart’) is out. @amaliaefowler

I am curious about Smart Campaign and Smart bidding. Again – to just test a small portion of campaigns on. @TheMarketingAnu

I want to jump on board the Scripts train. @webjock

I’m all about testing bidding (if I have buy in for 1-2 weeks of volatility), and reporting tools/workflows. Creative I’m a little more hesitant on unless I have the time (and creative bandwidth) to babysit. @navahf

I keep forgetting about the automation aspects of audiences! There’s a lot of good that can come from similar and lookalike. Facebook reminds us how special they are ^_^ @navahf

I would like to do some tests around LinkedIn automated bid strategies. I’ve been pleased with LinkedIn Ads performance, but I’m curious how the automation performs vs the manual. @FindingAmanda

I am using more automated bidding strategies. And trying to embrace RSAs more, as I believe soon they will be the only option. I am thinking about trying “audience expansion” for a display campaign, but have real doubts about that one. @NeptuneMoon

Haven’t heard of anything recently that I’m excited to test. But I like adding new scripts when I see them that can accomplish some of the day to day manual tasks. @selley2134

Testing more RSAs. Results are mixed. But we soon may have no choice. @beyondthepaid

Want to test more YouTube + automated bidding. I’ve had good success in the last year with it. Want to scale it more @KurtHenninger

Anomaly detection. Minimizing the time to respond to a risk or opportunity. (far beyond “$0 spend – credit card declined” I’d love to make the sophistication of big data accessible to SMBs @yaelconsulting

Q5: What types of automation are you NOT interested in using or testing in your PPC accounts?

Automated approval of Google recommendations. Bleh. Not interested at all in that. I’ve seen it in action. @KurtHenninger

HAL @webjock

Ones that hide data at large scale. @selley2134

DSAs. Automated extensions. Audience expansion. “Smart” campaigns. Automated approval of G recos. All are very bad for B2B since Google doesn’t understand B2B targeting or language. @beyondthepaid

Anything with no options such as Smart Campaigns. VERY agree with @KurtHenninger on automated recommendation implementation. No thank you. Basically anything where I can’t see what’s happening. Trust, but verify you know? @JuliaVyse

The allowance of up to 2x daily campaign budget needs to die a painful death. I can see an allowed daily fluctuation of 20-25%, but double can cause issues (like COH)… and making up for this by pausing campaigns for days at the end of the month is a poor solution. @PPCKirk

Smart campaigns in general are meh for me (although I keep hearing about great wins from smaller brands). I think the automation we gravitate to reflects the types of campaigns we manage (and how much of our job is management). @navahf

Automation I’ll never use -> auto-applied Google generate ad copy. @FindingAmanda

Back in my agency days, I constantly received the phone calls from vendors wanting my B2B clients to use their bid optimization solution. Usually short conversations when I told them how many clicks & conversions per month. Automation needs SCALE to make it worth it. @jstatad

Anything ‘smart’ or where I have a lack of control for brand safety / lack of data for attributing success. I have to draw a line if I either can’t explain something to a client or can’t ensure their campaign’s overall success, especially with low volume. @amaliaefowler

Many of the ones that the auto applied recommendation center offers. For example the thought of letting Google automatically create new ad copy for me is scary. Especially for clients with stricter brand guidelines. @BrettBodofsky

ANYTHING Auto applied by Google. We’re accountable for results, so we need to be accountable for each change. Accountability is not about “calling out mistakes”. It’s about us making a definitive choice and learning from it either way. @yaelconsulting

Q6: What is something that you wish had better automation capabilities?

Paid social! While the native bid automation works decently, there is a dearth of tools for other elements, unless you want to pony up for Sprinklr or similar tools. Nothing for the small to mid market clients. Wish there were scripts too. @beyondthepaid

Microsoft Ads and scripts. I do wish it was supported better. @KurtHenninger

Shopping Feeds. A lot of untapped potential for a good optimization tool. @selley2134

Facebook reporting in particular. those bots don’t know what on EARTH we’re looking for. And social in general. I’m not mad a Microsoft and Google automation from a tool standpoint. but reporting everywhere could be so much better. @JuliaVyse

Agree with @Mel66 – paid social’s automated functions are frustrating and more time intensive to use than just doing everything manually (especially on the creative side). One day visual based automation will catch up to the data-driven SERP. @navahf

My biggest challenge for using automation -> not enough traffic and/or conversion volume @FindingAmanda

Q7: What is your biggest challenge when it comes to utilizing or implementing automation in your PPC accounts?

The black box. In many cases, when you choose to automate, you lose the ability to analyze data at a deep level. Makes it tough to troubleshoot if it doesn’t work. @beyondthepaid

I have many accounts with few conversions or no legal way to apply pixels (it’s a whole thing y’all, for another time). So automation tools simply can’t deliver because they have so little to ingest. My big deal is audiences and now FLoCs because it has to be. @JuliaVyse

Wrestling with my “all automation is bad” knee-jerk reaction. @selley2134

Initial set up can occasionally prove challenging. Scripts breaking due to updates. Costs associated with paid automation tools. @BrettBodofsky

Low volume is a constant battle. Also I use data I find in the platforms outside of the platforms. Like to try to make landing pages more relevant for example by reviewing ad winners and queries. Harder or impossible to do with automation/black box. @NeptuneMoon

The biggest challenge from the bidding perspective is that I’ve never seen it work better than what a human would do. Bidding automation needs scale to work and the reason to use it is you have more scale (SKUs, KWs, Campaigns) than you can humanly handle. @jstatad

Fear of the unforeseen scenario Automating often says “this is absolutely the way it should be” ST we may double-check, but LT we’re bound to accept on auto-pilot I’ve witnessed a multi-million dollar eCommerce site crash because a user put a (-) number vs (+) @yaelconsulting

I’ll speak for others based on what I’ve seen. I think fear drives a lot of opposition to automation. We are scared that the machine might take our job. However, what I have found is that using more aggressive automation frees us for strategic tasks: @PPCKirk

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