Running search ads is an easy sell for agencies, because clients like the measurability and control this medium offers.
Then comes the discussion of the agency fees and hours required to execute a successful campaign, often yielding a chasm between the service a client expects and what the agency can offer, yet remaining profitable. As contract negotiations whittle down already aggressive project bids, the pressure falls on the day-to-day PPC managers to complete mountains of work in little time.
The danger for agencies—besides write-downs and overages—is becoming so focused on checking off a task list that they fail to make the strategic moves necessary for the results they promised. To prevent this unenviable situation, agencies need to pause and take a hard look at where their time is going to maximize efficiency and boost profitability of PPC campaigns. Automation of AdWords and PPC campaigns overall is key.
4 PPC agency time killers
Reality is, dozens of time killers plague search marketing agencies, but we want to focus in on a few specific areas of exceptional opportunity to automate the most frequent time-consuming PPC tasks. At the very least, analysis of the following automation opportunities can put agencies on the path to better profitability.
PPC account managers field constant client questions about results and requisite explanations of how campaigns affect business. Many agencies tell us reporting can consume three, four or even five full days of exhaustive, detailed, manual work each month. Reporting is perhaps one of the most essential parts of campaign management, but it shouldn’t eat up otherwise profitable time.
Thankfully, machine learning and automated processes now make it possible for campaign managers to automatically and reliably pull data, analyze for key findings and structure custom-looking reports in minutes versus days. We have multiple clients notching 90 percent reductions in reporting time via automated reporting capabilities.
Read about experiences for EU-based Geniads and US-based Granular. Both agencies saw dramatic reductions in time spent on reporting, allowing them to redirect critical thinking to campaign optimization. Google also recently stepped up its automation game with a simple API connecting AdWords data with Google Slides. Simple AdWords scripts can be used to create presentations or automate appending additional data into existing ones.
There may be upfront time required to do additional scripting or implement ready-made scripts like our Enhanced Scripts™, but once implemented, automated PPC reporting can drive agency efficiency, effectiveness AND profitability.
2. Bid management
Effective bid management can make or break campaigns. Google actually builds in automated bid management right in the Adwords interface to automate strategies like “bid to top of page.” These sorts of Automated Rules are basic, but can save tremendous amounts of time compared to doing the same work manually in spreadsheets.
Many PPC pros, however, cling to their own bid management processes to maintain as much control as they can. But they miss the fact that relinquishing control of such manual processes can free them up to do more strategic, high-value campaign management.
Prebuilt rules can take the tedious work out of managing bids to position, target CPA, target ROAS and other key metrics. With a little time and thought in HOW and WHAT to automate, PPC pros can reliably take big chunks of time out of bid management.
3. Keyword management
Automation and artificial intelligence can even help with tasks that require a bit of human input, like keyword management. Computers can find optimal new keywords based purely on the data, whereas PPC pros may be inclined to rely on intuition when they should follow data.
Automating keyword management shifts a PPC pro’s job to confirming the suggestions and tweaking the model being used as opposed to groveling over every keyword to make a difference. Considering many accounts have tens of thousands of new queries to contemplate adding as keywords, shifting to automation can be a huge time saver.
The challenge is about releasing control of keyword management to open up productive time. Ask yourself if the task is something you really NEED to be doing. If automation can do the same or even better, why would you even think about continuing with the status quo. And even if the automation is slightly worse than a human, consider the tradeoff between your employees’ valuable time and the change in performance from a more automated keyword management process.
4. Ad Testing
Google offers ready-made tools for PPC pros to test theories and decipher infinitesimal differences between ads. These tools are only a starting point for automation. The trouble is, expanding permutations of all the variables between keywords, ad creative, regions, bids and the myriad other variables can make even the best PPC pro’s head spin.
Managing the ads becomes an intricate ballet, prioritizing what we think is important and digging into the subtleties of the data and understanding what “statistically valid” really means. As PPC pros advance along an automation path, they can harness the power of visualization and data insight tools to move their energy, talent and creativity away from test building and into informed, strategic optimization.
Looking beyond Google’s built-in automation tools, more powerful options such as Optmyzr Ad Optimization, can systematize repetitive tasks that often fall short due to human interpretation or error. PPC pros who embrace ad testing automation are able to look at the bigger picture, make adjustments and gain significant efficiency.
Time spent on repetitive tasks ripe or overdue for automation can exact a painful toll on agency profitability and competitiveness. Of course, write-downs and write-offs will always be a fact of agency life, but many profitability killers are preventable with automation, advanced scripting, AI and machine learning.
Because of such rapid transformation, automation will be a key area of focus on this blog throughout 2018 – along with our contributed articles in Search Engine Land and Search Engine Journal. I encourage you to read my most recent Search Engine Journal article easy ways to get started with PPC automation.
“Automate or be rendered obsolete” might well become the PPC pro’s rally cry in the near future. Agencies and PPC pros alike need to explore automation to stay ahead of the curve. The industry will only get more competitive with tighter margins.