Five ways to automate your (PPC) life

Measurably Daring™

Fetch’s top 5 PPC automation tactics

Automation. Everyone’s talking about it, but many PPC marketers find it difficult to relinquish control of their manual processes. What will they spend their time doing? The reality is that automation isn’t a time saving measure at all – but it does give us the power to utilise thousands of signals available to us, in a way that we can’t manually.

According to Google, up to 80% of a digital marketer’s day is spent performing manual tasks that could be easily automated – that only gives us one day per week to think about strategy, creativity and to take our favourite clients out to lunch (not to mention raiding the Facebook chocolate stash). Automation can optimise bids multiple times per day, ads can be more relevant and targeted, and new high-performing keywords can be identified and employed. It changes the digital marketer’s remit from one of implementation to one of strategy, rule creation, fine tuning of the automation theories they employ and testing to elicit the best performance from our vast data analysis capability.

Don’t be misled by all this bid talk, automation is much more than that. It’s about increasing ad relevance, automating processes (SQRs anyone?), and negating human error. So how do we do that? Here are some tricks of the trade that Fetchlings use to beef up their campaign performance.

1. Bid Automation

Where else would we start? DoubleClick Bid Automation is a powerful cross platform tool that will change your bids up to 4 times a day, with changes in the backend every 5 minutes. Powerful AI intelligence adapts at every impression, taking into account signals that humans can’t possibly account for: browsers, device, location, audience, time of day, application, query, demographics, interests, user behaviour and more. No other third-party tool can use cross device signals in the algorithm, giving this the edge by more accurately assigning value to mobile and calculating a more informed bid.

It’s important to segment campaigns because a Brand campaign will primarily need to maintain high position and impression share, but a Generic or Shopping campaign focuses more on CPA or ROAS results. Shopping campaigns also benefit from the ‘Adaptive Shopping‘ feature which easily splits high performing products out to be managed more granularly. Bid modifiers are essential for maximising geo performance, mobile and RLSA (and of course demographics when opted in to DFSA), and we can’t wait until Google launches Time of Day modifiers to take advantage of our top converting hours too. Mobile is ever more important, and including device conversions in the bid modifier algorithm (with just a tickbox) means that the full value of mobile is utilised in bid strategies.

Lastly, understanding the value of assisted conversions by using Data Driven Attribution models means that Generic keywords get all the respect they deserve (within the last four actions).

2. Creative Automation

The ‘one per’ rule (one keyword per adgroup) has long been the aspiration for super relevant ads and high quality score. The problem is it just isn’t scalable, and can only be applied to a fraction of your campaigns. So many pieces of ad copy to write! This is where Ad Customisers come into their own. Sure, there is a little bit of (really easy) code involved and a feed, but the payoff is a range of super relevant ads that can include location, price, product name and even a nice countdown timer in your ad. Possibilities really are as endless as your creativity; flight destinations, flight times, availability, discounts (even if they are different per location), basically anything you can get out of your database and into a feed can be used. Think of the thousands of ad combinations that you can make, just by writing the one ad template. I’m not sure it would even be possible to write manually if you want all those locations involved. There is a lovely scheduling function too, so you can show different ads depending on what day of the week it is, schedule your feed to upload on the weekend, or just set your new customised ads to go live the next day and go out to brunch on your Sunday morning instead.

3. Keyword Automation

Google have big plans for Dynamic Search Ads (DSA), with a goal of 80% of traffic through DSA by 2018! This handy feature let’s Google choose the keywords for you based on their organic algorithm (so make sure you have a good SEO strategy in place, we can help with that). Long sidelined to be used as a keyword mining feature, DSA now gives you more control by setting your keyword categories, i.e. each product type, so that you can tailor bids and ad copy accordingly. Take DSA to another level using a feed containing your most important pages and the headline and description per category, and then go ahead and pair it with Experiments so you can really see how the Googlebot stacks up. Really, this is the ultimate campaign automation strategy and some of our friends at sister agency iProspect can’t get enough of it. Our Fetchlings have enjoyed seeing it capture sales from newly launched (and unexpectedly popular) products that had no keywords associated, otherwise those sales would have gone elsewhere.

4. Task Automation

As far as I’m concerned, Scripts is where it’s at. The Fetchlings are lucky enough to have their very own Tech team who can literally write any script that we ask for (they haven’t failed us yet). Pretty much any task that needs to be done week in, week out can be helped along by a script. Sure you can get it to do things like run a report, email it, perform bid strategies (but you should do that in DoubleClick ), but there are many more exciting uses too. We’ve all been inspired by the use of weather data turning on and off our ad copy, but what about these handy account management uses:

  • Scraping an affiliate page and showing your ad when your rate is the best in market
  • Bid shaving; lowering your max CPC just a little bit each time to save budget
  • Account anomoly detector; look for exact match keywords with +, or broad match without +, maybe a spike in impressions, drop in CPA
  • Kraftu report; see an overview of the performance of the whole MCC, great for team leads!
  • Manage a master negative keyword list
  • Search Query Reports that automatically add high performing keywords and negatives
  • Co-ordinate your campaign with your TVC
  • URL checker, just to make sure that someone didn’t change those links without telling you

5. Audit Automation

We all know how painful human error can be, so to make sure that every account runs as smoothly as possible there are some essential checks that we let JavaScript take care of for us:

  • Disapproved ads
  • No ads in an adgroup
  • No impressions for a keyword
  • No conversions for the account
  • Mismatched domain and landing page
  • Broken URLs

That way we can be confident that if anything decides to go wrong (obviously because we’ve been hacked) than we will be the first to know.

Automation is of course the future, so better to be on board now while there are so many options available to us. Exciting times!

Kat- Head of PPC at Fetch