Advertising

Working with (not against) Google Ads automation

By December 21, 2020No Comments

Over the last few years, automation and artificial intelligence have become unavoidable for businesses advertising with Google. What started with discovering related search terms in Keyword Planner has transformed into running Dynamic Search Ads without any keywords at all. It can be frustrating trying to keep up with Google Ads automation and AI. Advertisers also need to implement the ever-changing technologies in a way that works for their businesses.

Google Ads’ tools, technologies and recommendations aren’t always “right.” At the very least, AI doesn’t make the right decision in every situation. Automation still requires a lot of human oversight and the technology misses details an experienced digital marketer would notice right away.

None of Google Ads’ automations or AI-enabled updates are going to replace a human ad manager any time soon. What these technologies are good at are repetitive tasks and obvious changes. Google has developed multiple tools that harness the power of machines to enhance advertising performance. These tools usually excel at tasks that humans aren’t that good at anyway, especially humans with a lot on their to-do lists.

To work with, rather than against, Google Ads’ artificial intelligence, it’s important to understand how these technologies may fit into your business’ advertising strategy.

Responsive Ads

Both search and display campaigns use Responsive Ads powered by artificial intelligence. You give Google multiple headlines, descriptions and images to choose from for each ad. This gives Google more options when deciding which ads will display in a particular situation. The technology allows Google (and advertisers) to serve more relevant ads to potential customers. Over time, the components’ performance, such as the most often shown headline or highest performing image, can help us make more relevant traditional ads too.

When we first used Responsive Search Ads in 2018, we didn’t see results that made us want to keep using them, to be completely honest. This is often true when testing new machine learning-enabled tools. It can take a while for new technologies to reach their full potential. Now, Responsive Ads are part of almost every search and display campaign we build and maintain. Two years post-launch, the technology often delivers a better click through rate, cost per click, conversion rate and cost per conversion than its traditional counterparts!

Dynamic Search Ads

Instead of deciding which keywords your ads show up for, Dynamic Search Ads are based on topics. You select subjects related to your business or let Google decide which topics are relevant based on your website. You also allow Google to create headlines to match searchers’ queries. Google says this AI-enabled ad format “can help fill in the gaps of your keyword based campaigns.”

Using Dynamic Search Ads means giving up a lot of control. When you use this form of Google Ads artificial intelligence to its fullest extent, you don’t know what headlines your ads will use or where on your website searchers will end up. In some cases, this is helpful. For example, it’s difficult to manually build and maintain comprehensive search campaigns for every product on a large ecommerce website.

We’re still using Dynamic Search Ads sparingly. We’ve seen encouraging end results from these automated campaigns. However, we’re not really sure what’s driving these results because so much is determined by Google’s artificial intelligence. Limiting how much these ads spend and keeping a close eye on their performance will give us a better idea of how Dynamic Search Ads fit into our clients’ strategies moving forward.

Automated Bidding

Automated bidding is probably our favorite Google Ads automation. This is one task that not only takes a lot of time to do manually, but machines are actually a lot better at than humans. Rather than adjusting manual bids for every campaign, ad group or keyword, Google uses an algorithm to determine the right bid for every unique situation. You tell Google Ads which actions are valuable, such as a click, impression or conversion, and the platform adjusts its bid based on the likelihood of those actions. The technology ensures your bids are never too high or too low for a specific situation.

Recommendations

Every Google Ads account has a Recommendations tab. The page compiles Google’s suggestions for optimization, including new ads, keywords, audiences and other potential improvements. This Google Ads automation is great for pointing out details you may have missed, such as ad groups without a responsive ad. However, you can’t hit “Accept” blindly. Many of the recommendations simply aren’t relevant. This can be frustrating, because they still affect your campaign score, even if they’re not great for your unique business. We’ve found these AI-powered suggestions are great reminders, not must-dos.

Google Ads automation and artificial intelligence will only continue to impact how advertisers use the platform. Many of these technologies have been around long enough to prove their worth. Advertisers should embrace them when it makes sense for their business. However, if an automation doesn’t work for your goals or you don’t have the budget to experiment, it’s okay to rely on your human judgment and skip a feature until it’s more useful—usually once it’s more mature.