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Greetings Happy Readers! During this week’s PPCChat session, host Julie F Bacchini & guest host Frederick Vallaeys discussed the scenarios where experts still feel that manual management is better than automated, tricks that helped them to perform automation better & more.

Q1: How much automation are you currently using in your Google Ads accounts? What types are you using?

Automated bids, shared budgets, automated reporting, audiences layered on, including Similar Audiences – which are made automatically. @JuliaVyse

One #ppc automation is responsive search ads (RSAs). We see 83% adoption of RSAs amongst accounts connected to us. That’s up from 75% 18 months ago. @siliconvallaeys

Some automated bidding (when enough conversion volume). Using RSAs (responsive search ads) in all campaigns. @NeptuneMoon

As for automated bidding, we see virtually all advertisers using some form of automated bids though in many instances they only use it as part of their account. @siliconvallaeys

A decent amount. DSAs, Smart Bidding, RSAs. @SEMFlem

As a long time subscriber to Optmyzr, we’ve always found the product feed related rules to be of huge benefit. Building your own custom automation rules is a double edged sword but at least you can’t blame Google if you get it wrong. @beyondcontent

Moving to only RSAs on all new builds. @JuliaVyse

It depends on the account but I would say at least testing automation in all accounts at some level, but minimal automation overall. Some auto bidding, no smart shopping, tested perf max in one account & not loving results so about to end that as well. @selley2134

I am using DSAs a lot more too (but in their own campaigns). @NeptuneMoon

Q4 2021 and Q1 2022 tests in Google Ads, for us at least, suggest the automation Google offers out of the box is better compared to 12 months ago, albeit you still need 8-12 weeks to make it sing. I see this year as a clear line in the sand for automation. @beyondcontent

For massive brands, sentiment & product hype would need to stay neutral to truly know how much GMP automation was driving growth. Usually paid media is simply capitalising on great PR and great product. But for SMEs, it could be a game-changer for growth. @beyondcontent

Minimal I have a script that will pause campaigns once daily cost reaches a threshold, paired with rules that turn the campaigns back on the next morning. I have a script that generates and updates UTM parameters to include campaign name, ad group name & keywords. @C_J_Ridley

As much as we can. Everything from smart bidding to rules & scripts when they make sense. machines know more than we do sometimes @duanebrown

Definitely utilizing automated bidding strategies for campaigns that have enough volume/data. I’ll run experiments before I commit. And even experiment after. @mcgregor212

2022 is the first year where custom manual solutions we’ve been tweaking and improved for years, were finally overtaken by automation – but – the first four weeks side by side still look awful. Most SMEs won’t have the stomach or faith to hold their nerve at week 4. @beyondcontent

I feel like automation is a broad term. If your asking how much of my google ads isn’t on manual, 90%. If your asking for some fancy smart campaign stuff, 20% @JonKagan

Q2: Do you use smart bidding across the board or only for certain campaigns?

I use a lot of automated bidding and have integrated RSAs into all of my accounts. This is probably controversial, but for new accounts I’m only building RSAs. I want to optimize my RSAs as much as possible before the change in June. @alexnicoll93

Not just yet. mostly it’s been a long conversation with clients about how they work and why we should use them. But I do like to test landing page phrases in the ads directly, compared with phrases in our awareness media. no stat-sig results on that yet. @JuliaVyse

Begrudgingly I do when I have to. I really have 0 trust in having the fox watch the hen house @JonKagan

Only in campaigns where I feel there’s enough data for the machine to actually be smart. @SEMFlem

Across the board. It’s so much simpler than managing manual budgets on all campaigns @JuliaVyse

I use it whenever there is enough volume to do so. Yes, I know Google Ads says you can do it with *any* level of conversions, but I have found if you don’t meet the previous thresholds, the automation struggles to get going. @NeptuneMoon

Only for certain campaigns/accounts. I do like running experiments when there is enough conversion data to see if automated bids would increase results. Usually, start with an experiment, if it wins, leave that campaign automated if it loses, sticks with the manual. @selley2134

I like to work towards smart bidding but think it’s important to take the chance to get some meaningful data, keywords particularly to start off with. I’m happy to sacrifice more sales or leads in the short term, to help guide account evolution in the longer term @jimbanks

I use smart bidding pretty much across the board. I’ve found that it performs well for me and honestly makes management easier. Though I just learned smart bidding doesn’t take advantage of Google’s in engine audiences as a signal, which I found interesting. @alexnicoll93

My go-to approach for campaigns are as follow: Maximise Clicks > Maximise Conv (Value) > Apply a Target CPA/ROAS. Each step happens once I believe I have enough data to warrant taking the account into a more complex bid strategy. I rarely use Manual CPC these days. @C_J_Ridley

I start with manual, change to semi-automated, migrate to smart biddings if the performance goes well after a while. Usually, they do. @MaiMolina_

The machine would eventually learn but sometimes it’s smart to invest your time and manage things manually to build volume rather than to invest money to let the machine play around and eventually figure it out… @siliconvallaeys

Not all campaigns have smart bidding. I’ll run tests and for certain campaigns where manual CPC performs better and keeps CPCs down. @mcgregor212

SMART bidding, SMART campaigns… Made me feel stupid sometimes @MaiMolina_

What Jim said +1 @beyondcontent

Slowly scaling up where it makes sense. not enough that we get any google partner swag points for it. @PPCGreg

We are 90% ecom and DTC. tROAS works really well across clients and campaigns. We are always testing though to make sure we pick the right setting for each client. @duanebrown

I tend to use smart bidding across all my campaigns. However, when for a new campaign I tend to start with Max Clicks (technically not a smart bid. strategy). Also, after pausing and re enabling a campaign I would switch to max clicks to generate traffic. @SofiaAkritidou1

Q3: Have you tested the fully automated cross channel Performance Max campaign type and how would you feel if it replaced legacy campaign types?

No. actually I had a major problem with Locals – also cross-channel – where my placement exclusions were not applied. You can’t do it manually, you need support. And our ads ended up on YT channels they shouldn’t have been on. caution! @JuliaVyse

We have slowly started testing Max campaigns in accounts that struggle generating adequate revenue. Thought it would be a good tactic to test these since they will replace Smart Shopping soon. @SofiaAkritidou1

I have not done any Performance Max campaigns yet. I would not be happy if they became the only option. Especially after hearing things like they made video assets for you, exclusions are difficult, etc. @NeptuneMoon

I have not touched PMax campaigns yet. I am extremely uncomfortable if this was the only ad format we had. I know the beta testers did well, but in betas most advertisers do. I want to see the ongoing performance and might wait until I am forced to adopt. @jimbanks

No, I was scared of the shopping component having seen other people have the shopping campaigns completely tank after launching Perf Max @selley2134

I haven’t.. yet. It’s something I want to test. The quality of assets you provide is extremely important. Managing performance max seems more about managing the inputs and letting the automation handle the optimization of the inputs. @alexnicoll93

Bad placements are a big issue across the board and that’s something we’re starting to address with @Optmyzr software. Luckily there are account-level exclusions we can leverage. But @GoogleAds makes it very difficult to format the exclusions correctly @siliconvallaeys

I have not tested performance max, only read some reports on it (just 3), but all were the same, traffic was cheaper, but the quality of post-click (ie lead value, ROAS, etc) was lower. I don’t like it, but I don’t know that we have a choice @JonKagan

Yes, @Lish_Griffiths & I have been testing PMax across a range of our accounts. I personally won’t feel comfortable with the Performance Max campaigns until we get more data and control. Not being able to see search terms or apply negatives is a missed opportunity. @C_J_Ridley

I haven’t tried PMax yet. Too new for me to trust and my account is too new for a test. @SEMFlem

Performance max is on the testing list. @mcgregor212

A list of things possible via support-only, there’s a list worth maintaining. Or a cool lead magnet. @beyondcontent

It scares me a bit that we’re still waiting on better RSA data that we can use for optimization. Worried PMax will go the same way and make us wait too long for helpful controls. @siliconvallaeys

We are testing it and it does really well… almost too well. To early to have any strong opinion beyond we want to continue to test and see how it works with our other campaigns. @duanebrown

I started trying in several accounts (eComm mostly, even though i know they perform better on lead accounts) but I don’t trust that “magic botton” to migrate from SmartSHO to P-Max. I started an excel mentioning different account situations to compare scenarios @MaiMolina_

Sorry, late to the party today. I have done some testing and so far the category based PM campaigns seem to be doing well. Still way too many questions for me to know if I would be happy to change over to them fully, however. @lchasse

Q4: What tricks do you have for helping automations perform better? Any optimization tips and/or ways you’ve prevented failures?

Test automated bidding using experiments. I’m not scared to use manual CPC if CPCs and performance isn’t where I think it should be. In a performance atmosphere, I go with what’s working. @mcgregor212

The better data you can give the machine, the better chance of success. Also, don’t make too many changes in short period of time. Machines need time to do their work. Rarely does it all happen instantaneously. @duanebrown

Rn, I can’t think of any tips except for keeping a close eye on it and doing as much as you can to make the decision for the automation easy. Remove any irrelevant conversion goals (or turn them to Count: No), apply as many bid adjustments as you can, etc. @C_J_Ridley

Doing it in baby steps, don’t go full in toward my fantasy goal number, baby step to it over months. @JonKagan

Q5: In what scenarios do you feel manual management is still better than automated #ppc?

@AndrewLolk shared this example of a business that wanted to box out their competitors but their own call centre was closed on weekends so automations tended to reduce bids too much. So they switch to manual bids for the weekend and SB on weekdays. @siliconvallaeys

I don’t think you should ever just manually manage things. Too many automations that you should be looking at based on location, device, time of day, day of week. Impossible to manage that all effectively, you’ll leave money on the table for sure. @jimbanks

It’s always a matter of discerning time investment vs. performance trade-off. Will the machine give me good enough results that my time investment is better spent elsewhere? @SEMFlem

If conversion volume is too small then manual it is for my accounts. I am finding that manual is having trouble getting off the ground more and more lately. Trying to not don the tinfoil hat when thinking about why this might be… @NeptuneMoon

In more exploratory campaigns, DSAs, broad match…etc. I definitely prefer to use automated bidding especially when ROAS is a factor. I won’t usually lead with Automated until I have a baseline of performance. @mcgregor212

I still very much prefer manual shopping to smart shopping. Have tested this a bunch across many accounts & although smart always jumps out quickly (dynamic remarketing), manual wins a majority of the time & if it loses it’s not by much. @selley2134

What I would like to see is automated bidding that can actually handle low conversion volume accounts well. I am holding out hope that the tech will get better in this area? @NeptuneMoon

I think manual bidding makes sense when the focus is B2B or really niche. Having a client who is able to tell you if quality leads are coming in from PPC is really helpful here and something you can optimize to better than Google IMO. @alexnicoll93

I don’t use fully manual very often, but when I have seen it help is if an account does not have much data and you are trying to get things going. Automation did not get any traffic and manual is sometimes able to get things moving. @lchasse

Could make sense for a low budget client that may not get enough data for Google to know how to optimize things. Brand campaigns on manual are still better, imo, when you are not obsessed with 99% impression share and or overpaying for a click. @duanebrown

Every scenario, when/if I had resources, but that hasn’t been a reality since probably 2006 @JonKagan

Apart from low volumen accounts, I did some migrations of inherited accounts with bad automated bidding systems to manual systems to recover the performance. Made them stable, then change them back to a new and controlled smart bidding. @MaiMolina_

When it comes to automation, I draw the line at the following elements: – increasing budgets – changes to keywords – creating new ad copy/video ads Note: when a suggestion/recommendation is provided, I always take it into consideration. @C_J_Ridley

Q6: How do you plan to stay relevant in a #ppc world where more and more of what we used to do is getting automated?

Test early and often. @mcgregor212

Late to this as i had a meeting but eager to answer with a cheeky – join an ad tech company (i.e. like i just did) @TheMarketingAnu

The future is all about guiding, strategy, training and that goes for ad platforms, people and brands. We could be 2 years or 5 years away but it is coming. Are you ready? @duanebrown

Instead of being focused on a couple platforms, you begin to focus on multiple platforms & creative vs. bids and some of the more manual processes. The complication becomes creative and platform mix to hit client revenue goals. It is basically old school marketing. @lchasse

Everything old is new again! And by that I mean we will need to adjust our thinking away from “attribution is gospel” and move back to thinking about advertising more holistically. Help clients have the right inputs is a good start & understand process better. @NeptuneMoon

Even as accounts & campaigns get more automated I think we as advertisers will still have a huge responsibility in guiding & consulting overall strategy across platforms & accounts. We may see less small businesses signing up however @selley2134

@siliconvallaeys presented a bit on this at Hero Conf. PPCers are still relevant because we control the inputs that allow Google to optimize. We give Google the conversion data and the targets needed to run a (hopefully) successful campaign. @alexnicoll93

By controlling the variables that remain. There will be / still is opportunity to educate, guide, and make corrections. Rather than resist automation, I’m embracing it and finding ways to drive maximum time performance with it. @BrettBodofsky

Clients will always need help with strategy. Time to think strategically. @beyondthepaid

Comparable/shareable skill set (ie YouTube, Paid Social, GDN, hands om keyboard programmatic, etc). Education is key. I also make a mean nacho dip. @JonKagan

Stay on the cutting edge of everything – first-mover advantage testing if things are applicable or not. shout out to #ppcchat and @MarketingOClock @PPCGreg

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