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Does PPC Automation Require Manual Optimization Anymore?

Does PPC Automation Require Manual Optimization Anymore?

Thursday January 16, 2020,

6 min Read

Has automation squeezed the role of the PPC service provider? Can a human brain be replaced by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning? Is automation advancing the cause of PPC marketing or simply snatching control from the manual advertisers? What is its ultimate destination?

The questions are many! In this blog, we will try to address such questions and explore whether PPC automation has squeezed the scope of manual optimization.

Before getting into that, we must mention that today’s discussion will be limited to the paid search campaigns on Google ads, since this is the most used PPC ad platform (source: Search Engine Journal).

So, without further ado, let’s dive in.

# PPC Automation: Less Control and Transparency

John Clark - the managing partner of Moving Traffic Media, rightly states that search engines are pushing users toward automation, which is resulting in decreased control and less transparency. But his claim that automation has the potential to remove manual bidding is not entirely correct because machines require us to set the business goal at the outset.

If used correctly, PPC automation can help you obtain more from the manual efforts. However, left unattended, it can lead to overspending without delivering much profit. This is why modifying and creating your automation strategy based on your unique business goal is important.

In fact, though Google continues to introduce more audience targeting and automation, advertisers are becoming more careful and they don’t want to blindly adopt these without evaluating. This leads advertisers to customize the advantages of automation to meet their business objectives.

# Build Your Automation

The idea operating behind automation is attractive as it helps to accomplish mundane and time-consuming tasks by getting a machine do them for you. You can use it to check on dead URLs or the overall performance. But you need to remember that a machine can go wrong and lead you to waste money.

Building your automation may sound a bit daunting but it can offer a competitive edge to the marketers. The concept is that you need to monitor and guide the automation to obtain the best results. This principle is called “automation layering”.

Let’s discuss automation layering in various fields.

  • Automation Layering for Close Variants

Previously, close variants used to only match the queries that included some variations of the original keyword. For example, the keywords “mowing”, “lawn”, and “service” would match for “mow my lawn services”.

Now, close variants can match the queries that do not necessarily contain the selected keywords at all. All they need is to share the same meaning. Therefore, the above-mentioned keywords can match a query “gardening and grass cutting services”.

This requires account managers to take some time and monitor the search terms triggered for exact match keywords. According to the experts at any SEO agency, the best way to do this is to check the performance of the close variant with respect to the underlying exact keyword.

If the performance meets the user-defined threshold, it can automatically be added as a new keyword or a negative keyword if the performance is poor. Thus, in automation layering, you can step in and do your own metrics analysis. Humans+machines are always better than machines alone.

  • Automation Layering for Responsive Search Ads

Google Ads allows you to enter multiple headlines and descriptions while creating a Responsive Search Ad. Here Google Ads will adapt the ad’s content to closely match the potential customers’ search term. However, in order to help the automation perform efficiently, you need to provide at least 5 unique headlines without repeating the same or similar phrases.

Also, you can enlist up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions for each Responsive Search Ad. Google Ads will assemble the text into multiple ad combinations and show the ads befitting the search query of the customers. Therefore, you have a major responsibility in creating the ad copy.

Further, you should keep track of the performance of the ads generated by Google Ads. Therefore, PPC automation is far from the cliched set-it-and-forget-it kind of activity.

  • Automation Layering for Smart Bidding

Though this bid management process is automated, there’s significant scope for human involvement. For example, you can manually set the goal and ensure that ROI (Return on Investment) is improved.

Here’s a situation where automated bidding may go wrong. If automated bidding notices that conversion rates have dropped suddenly one day, it will reduce the bids in order to maintain the target CPA (Cost-per-Action). As a result of such lower bids, the conversion volume also reduces.

While automation can correctly trace a decline in the conversion rate and adjust the bids accordingly, humans can identify and analyze the reasons behind it. Therefore, marketers can modify their bidding strategy rather than simply decreasing the bids. Thus, humans can monitor the machine’s decision and offer necessary guidance and corrections to obtain the desired results.

  • Automation Layering for Campaigns

With Google’s emphasis is on fully automated AI-based campaigns, the boundary between remarketing and prospecting campaigns are continually fading. But, dynamic prospecting is distinct from dynamic remarketing since the former is used to acquire new users while the latter focuses on getting the most value out of the existing customers.

Hence, instead of opting for the easy automated campaigns, the marketers need to keep an eye on the campaign setup, organization, and segmentation so as to retain control over performance.

# At a Glance

Manual optimization is important to make the best out of your PPC budget. While humans accomplish the job of planning and deciding, the automated system smoothly carries out tasks like data ingestion, calculation, and execution. And much to the relief of the professionals at PPC management companies, their relevance is not yet lost.

It’s highly recommended that as an advertiser, you must evaluate the target ROAS (Return on Ad Spend), Responsive Search Ads, close variants of keywords, and other automation features.


Instead of rejecting Google’s automation altogether, our advice is to learn about its loopholes and adopt the necessary strategies. Only a wholesome knowledge of Google’s automation will help you to beat the competitors who aren’t privy to it. However, if you want to get help on this, engage the professional of digital marketing services.

Therefore, we can expect that 2020 will be a year of automation refinement where the advertisers will take a pause and not blindly follow whatever automation has to offer.