Simplify AdWords with automation methods

Chris Kuiper
Most advertisers rely on manual bidding to achieve their target CPA. As soon as an AdWords account begins to grow and become more complex, however, this starts to be a challenge. AdWords automation methods can help out by taking over a number of manual tasks. Do you want to make AdWords just a little easier? Read more about the various methods you can use in this article.

Rule-based automation

In addition to applying performance filters and configuring manual keyword bids, rule-based automation also lets you run scripts, which puts in bids on the basis of certain preset criteria. You might have a script that puts in a higher bid when a keyword manages to draw in a lot of conversions or starts dropping down the charts.

Tools like PPC Samurai and Optmzyr use flowchart technology or scripts to give users the opportunity to build advanced processes and to have them partially or fully automated. You can build a flowchart to add keywords or exclude search terms, make advanced bids, manage shopping campaigns and set up automated notifications, for instance.

Another bidding strategy: Google Enhanced CPC (ECPC)

ECPC is a bidding strategy that automatically adjusts the Costs per Click (CPC), just like a target ROAS, to maximize the number of transactions. The main difference with target ROAS is that this bidding strategy does let you influence the CPC of a particular keyword. This strategy automatically increases the maximum CPC, which Google believes ups the chances of conversion.

On the other hand, the CPC are also reduced for searches that have a lower chance of conversion. Previously, this bidding strategy allowed Google to adjust the preset bid within a range of 30% in case of search queries with a high chance of conversion. This cap was removed last year in order to make full use of known conversion rates within certain target audiences and locations.

Generally speaking, you won’t have to adjust your bid anymore if you use ECPC. It is advisable, however, to adjust your bids on mobile and other devices, because ECPC doesn’t take the different conversion rates for different devices into account. It is possible that this strategy will lead to a slight increase in average CPC, after which the system will start looking for an optimal way to stay below the preset maximum CPC.

Third-party automation platforms: everything in a single environment
Third-party automation platforms are an ideal way to store data originating from various sources in a single environment. This makes it easier to optimize performance, employ particular bidding strategies and measure conversions across different channels. In addition, it will allow you to manage multiple channels, such as AdWords, Bing, DoubleClick and Facebook within a single interface,

as well as implementing large-scale changes in channels like AdWords and Bing at the same time. The major names in this category are Martin, Kenshoo and Adobe Marketing Cloud. We recommend using the bidding strategies employed by these third-party automation platforms in combination with Google Enhanced CPC.

AdWords Smart Bidding: ROAS and Target CPA

The Smart Bidding algorithm automatically optimizes ads in order to achieve specific goals. When creating an AdWords campaign, you select one of these smart bidding strategies. The algorithm, which is based on machine learning, will then start carrying out tests to achieve this objective. Google optimizes each auction in real time, which is also known as auction-time bidding, and sets targets based on historical account information. You can set targets yourself, but they must fall within the range of the algorithm. This bidding strategy gives Google free reign in bidding on search queries. In case of a higher chance of conversion, Google increases the bids, whereas they are lowered for less relevant searches.

Some tips for this strategy:

  • The campaign type must be configured on the search network;
  • AdWords Conversion Tracking must be activated and configured;
  • The campaign must have led to at least 30 conversions in the past 30 days;
  • The campaign’s conversion percentage must be fairly regular;
  • The campaign must have sufficient budget, about twice the amount of the preset target CPA;
  • During the learning period (the first 7 days after a strategy is created), the campaign cannot be adjusted in any way.

When setting up a campaign, it’s important that you give Google enough time to complete the learning process. It is important that you run campaigns for a minimum of 30 days and that you make as few adjustments as possible during this period. If the CPA objective has to be adjusted in the following period, it’s best to do so in small steps. Major changes may confuse the algorithm, which would lead to poor results.

New to AdWords: Smart Display campaigns

So-called Smart Display campaigns are a new Google AdWords functionality. This feature uses Google machine learning, as well as insights gained from millions of apps and websites. With all of this information, the algorithm looks for the people who are most likely to generate conversions. With Smart Display, you don’t pay for clicks, but for conversions only, excluding view-through conversions.

You can also set up Smart Display campaigns for retargeting purposes. Research carried out by Google has shown that advertisers that use Smart Display campaigns see an average increase in conversions of 20% with the same CPA, compared to their other display campaigns. Another advantage is that Smart Display campaigns are easier and more efficient to set up and manage than standard display campaigns.

To use a Smart Display campaign, your account must meet a number of requirements. The account must have received at least 50 conversions in the Display Network over the past 30 days, or at least 100 conversions in the search network.

Some tips for this strategy:

  • The campaign must have a dedicated daily budget that is high enough to cover the entire day;
  • Campaigns must run for at least 30 days and must be changed as little as possible during this period;
  • Use various headers, descriptions and images. The algorithm performs tests to see which combinations work best.

Although virtually all aspects of Smart Display campaigns are automated, they can be optimized in several areas. Five elements that can be optimized:

  • Budget: the budget can be set by the advertiser;
  • Target CPA: the preset target CPA can be changed at all times, but it is best to do so in small steps;
  • Ads: you can always test new headers, descriptions or images if the performance of your current ads isn’t up to scratch;
  • Placement: Smart Display doesn’t let you select the websites and apps on which your adverts will be shown. Individual ad placements can still be excluded;
  • Demographics: you can still optimize your campaign based on demographic data.

Let’s get to work!

All these automation developments allow advertisers to work more efficiently, freeing up more time for other tasks. It will give you more time to create and optimize advertising copy, for instance, allowing you to work with various audiences or switch between several landing pages.

If you’re already working with AdWords automation methods or if you’re curious about the possibilities for your account, get in touch with one of our AdWords specialists. We’re happy to help you with any and all online issues.