Google has put a lot of effort into making ad automation possible. So why not take advantage of these features and implement them where they make sense for your campaigns? Whether you’re completely new to automation or just wanting a refresher, this is the place for you. We’ll go over the most important features you can use including when and why you’d want to.
It’s possible to use some automation elements while still keeping control of your ads. The goal is to do what’s most convenient for you. Let’s dig in!
Automated Google Text Ads – The Basics
Google didn’t start off magically knowing everything and being able to fully take the reigns of ad campaigns. But thanks to their devotion to machine learning, much is possible.
Now they divide their features into two main categories: Smart Bidding and Smart Creatives.
You won’t be able to just set up automation and then completely forget about your campaigns. They’ll still require fine-tuning and maintenance. But automation allows some elements of your campaigns to take less of your time and run more smoothly.
Automatic bidding strategies
Google offers 6 different types of automated bidding strategies.
- Maximize Clicks
- Target Impression Share
- Target CPA
- Target ROAS
- Maximize conversions
- Maximize conversion value
Each one is useful for a different reason depending on your goal. For example, if your goal is to get your ads seen more, you can use Target Impression Share to increase your visibility. Or if you want to get more site visits you could use the Maximize Clicks strategy.
Here we’re going to give our attention to a subset of automatic bidding referred to as Smart Bidding. These are conversion-focused strategies. While they had ways to automate bidding previously, Google introduced the term Smart Bidding in 2016. Using them can really put the power of machine learning behind your ads.
Before you begin, make sure you have conversion tracking set up.
These are the 5 strategies included in Smart Bidding:
- Target CPA
CPA stands for Cost per Action. Using this strategy puts a focus on increasing your conversions while staying as close to the amount you’ve chosen to pay per conversion as possible.
Google will give you a recommended amount to set if you have some previous data to use. You can choose this amount or come up with your own. Keep in mind that this number is an average, and individual conversions can end up costing more or less than the number you set.
This strategy is best to use when the products in your campaign or ad group all have a similar cost point.
- Target ROAS
This strategy works similarly to Target CPA, except that it focuses on your return on ad spend (ROAS).
Before using Target ROAS you’ll need to have at least 15 conversions in the last 30 days, but the more the better. You’ll also need to set values for the conversions you’re tracking.
To figure out the optimal Target ROAS, you’ll need to do a little math first. Let’s say your goal is $15 in sales (conversion value) for every $2 you spend on advertising.
Here is how you would run the equation:
$15 (in sales) ÷ $2 (ad spend) x 100% = 750% target ROAS
- Maximize Conversions
The title says it all for Maximize Conversions. This is the strategy to choose when your goal is to get the most conversions while staying within your budget.
For each auction, machine learning will lend its hand to choose the most optimized bid for your ads using real-time data. The drawback here is that your existing bid adjustments won’t be used.
If you decide to go with this strategy, it’s a good idea to double-check what your average daily budget is set at. If you’re currently spending less than what it’s set at, switching to Maximize conversions could increase your spend. This is because the strategy wants to get you the most conversions and will utilize your full budget to do this.
- Maximize conversion values
At first glance, this strategy looks the same as the previous one. The only difference here is that its goal is to get you the highest conversion value while staying within your budget.
- Enhanced CPC
This strategy blends parts of manual and automatic bidding together. The other strategies we went over above will try to max out your budget. The benefit of Enhanced CPC is that it will raise or lower your manual bids based on the details of each particular auction.
If it looks like the click would be more likely to lead to a sale, your manual bid gets raised. If it looks less likely, then your manual bid gets lowered. Google Ad’s system looks at factors like browser, location, and time of day and compares it to historical data to determine this.
Hindsight is 20/20 and using Smart Bidding strategies takes the past data needed to make accurate predictions for the future.
Bid strategy reports
You won’t be left in the dark to what’s going on with your campaigns if you set up Smart Bidding. In fact, you’ll be able to access thorough reports tailored to the strategy you picked. This will let you know what’s working (or not) and how to move forward with adjustments.
To access your bid strategy report:
- Log into your Google Ads account
- Go to your campaigns
- Each campaign will have its own row – find the one you want
- Find the “Bid strategy type” column
- The link there will lead you to your report
Dynamic Search Ads
If you have a large inventory and a detailed website then Dynamic Ads could be an ace in your hand. But they do require some know how in order to get it just right.
The key benefits here are that it could potentially be a big time saver and that your ads will show specifically what the searcher is looking for.
How do DSA’s work?
If you use Dynamic Search Ads, you’ll ditch the use of keywords. Instead, Google’s system will comb through your website or product feed to dynamically create your titles and headlines. It may sound scary to give Google complete control over what shoppers see. But if you put your trust in their machine learning, Google will tailor ads to what they’re looking for. All you have to do is optimise your bidding, and description and products feeds.
Rather than bidding on keywords, you pay for Dynamic Search Ads by setting bids at the auto-target level. This means that you tell Google which pages of your website it should get product information from and then you can set a bid for each one.
It’s also possible to bid manually or by using one of the Smart Bidding Strategies.
When not to use dynamic search ads
Running campaigns would be a breeze if you could pass all the heavy lifting to Google 100% of the time. Unfortunately, there are some instances when Dynamic Search ads aren’t a good idea.
- If you want to have complete control over all aspects of your campaign such as your descriptions, titles and images like with Google Shopping.
- If your ads fall under the restricted content category
- If your website doesn’t work with http:// at the the beginning (for example, if it only works with https://)
- If your website is comprised mostly of Flash content and images
- If your site requires signing in to access your content
If any of these apply to you, it’s best to find another method.
Responsive Search Ads
What are responsive search ads and how do they work?
If you’d like a bit more control than what Dynamic Ads can give you, then Responsive Search Ads might be the way to go. This is because they take A/B testing to a whole new level.
For each responsive search ad you can give Google up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions. From those, up to 3 headlines and 2 descriptions will be picked each time and shown in different combinations. Over time, Google’s machine learning will discover the most optimal combinations for your ad’s performance as well as which combinations perform best for certain queries.
RSA best practices
- Provide as many headlines and descriptions as you can for each ad. The more options Google has to work with, the better job it can do at determining what’s best. Google suggests at least 8-10 headlines and at least 2 unique descriptions.
- Make each headline and description as unique as possible as this will give the most clear results.
- Include keywords in your headlines (Google suggests adding them to at least 2)
- If you already have well-performing ads then it’s a good idea to reuse this copy since its effectiveness has already been proven.
Google’s responsive search support page gives examples of good and bad uses:
In this case, the bad example could have been avoided by making the copy unique for each headline, breaking them down into smaller pieces and adding more in general.
Automating campaign rules
When it comes to upkeep and maintenance of your campaigns, there are many automatic rules you can set in place. The are a series of “if/then” sequences you create to trigger a certain action if something specific occurs.
It takes a bit of thought and planning, but if you know what you want, you can make it happen. You can schedule ads and bids, control your budget, and pause ads or keywords that are low-performing.
To begin, it’s a good idea to think about the actions you’re commonly performing. To make it easy, you can log into your Google Ads account and make a run-through while noting all the steps you take. After that, you’ll have your plan put together for the automatic rules you want to set up.
Here are some of the rules you can focus on if you need some inspiration:
As your ads run, you’ll find that certain keywords aren’t performing like you had wanted them to. So to optimize the performance of your keywords you can set up perimeters. If a keyword falls below your desired performance, they’ll automatically be paused. That way you’re not wasting your ad spend on them.
1. Select Keywords
2. Click on the 3 dots and then choose ‘Create an automated rule’
3. Type of rule > Pause Keywords
4. Choose which keywords you’d like this rule applied to
5. Set up the rule based on Conversion and Cost.
For example: if cost is > $x and has > x Conversions then pause that keyword
6 . Choose how frequently you want this rule to run (Frequency) and how far back you want the data to be checked each time.
You can set a rule to keep an eye out for keywords that are performing well and also have a low cost per conversion. In this case, the rule would automatically increase the bid for these keywords. It’s a good idea to set a maximum bid to put a limit on this.
It’s also possible to set up the rule so that it decreases the bid for keywords that aren’t performing well and have a high cost per conversion.
Target specific page positions
Top positions on Google’s results page are valuable real estate. If you’re striving for your ads to reach a certain position, you can create rules to adjust your bids and reach this goal more easily.
Activate/Pause ads on specific days
It’s common to have special ads for promotions, especially for holidays where sales are common. Rather than worrying if you’ve activated and paused them at the right times, you can create a rule that schedules them.
You can do this for one time dates or on a recurring basis, like if you provide a discount every Friday for example. It’s also possible for single ads or a group of them.
Keeping your budget in check
Here are some of the best ways to keep your budget in order:
- If you’re setting up a daily rule, then just use data from the previous day
- Keep a careful watch on your automatic rules, especially if they involve increasing or decreasing your budget
- Make sure none of your rules are contradicting each other
- If you want to manage certain keywords manually, you can exclude them from your rules
Setting up email notifications
One of the great parts about automating is when it can save you from stressing and worrying. Have you ever found yourself checking on your ads at all hours of the night? Setting up email notifications could really help give you peace of mind.
The two best instances for when to set up email notifications are when something really good or bad happens. This also saves you time by not having to constantly check things yourself.
For any rule you set up, you can create an email alert based on what’s important to you.
You can also set up an email to update you on how your budget spend is going for the day. If you set it up for around lunchtime, it will give you a good idea on how quickly you’re going through your budget and if anything needs to be adjusted.
The main benefits of using scripts are:
- Being able to make broad changes to more than one account using the manager account
- Saving time by making changes to your account across the board
Luckily, there are some pre-made scripts ready for you to use. Google even put together a well-organized library of scripts that you can browse through and see if the solution you’re looking for is there.
If you’re looking to be more hands-on, you can write your own scripts. Once they’ve been created you can apply them by:
- Clicking on the tool icon at the top of the screen
- Choose ‘Scripts’ and click the blue + button
- Enter a name for your script
- Click Save or Preview if you’re not quite ready to push it live
- Once everything looks good, click Authorize Now on the pop-up window
- Grant Access > Run script now
- Access all your scripts in the ‘Logs’ section. This is where you can pause them in the future if you need.
When it comes to automating your text ads, more isn’t always better. It all comes down to figuring out what works for you and your ads. With some planning (and inevitable trial and error) you can create an automation strategy that saves you time and brings balance to your campaigns.
About the author:
Marvin Flores is the Global Regional Manager at DataFeedWatch, the easiest solution to create, optimise, and manage product feeds for more than 1000+ shopping channels and marketplaces in over 50 countries. He has helped countless agencies and merchants to build robust and profitable feeds so they get the most out of their online advertising efforts.