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Automation is the least favored aspect of PPC, According to Search marketers

PPC is an element of digital marketing that isn’t going away anytime soon, whether you like it or not. I’ve worked in PPC for more than ten years and have seen it all. To mention a few of the most recent innovations, there are ETAs, RSAs, and cost-per-touch? (Looking at you, Apple), broad match modifiers (RIP), and attribution.

We asked you earlier this month, “What is your least favorite aspect of PPC?”

We received a deluge of responses, ranging from Google support to agencies (no offense intended) to customers with unreasonable demands. However, one response stood out: Google automation.

Let’s get started.

Automation may either be your best friend or your worst enemy. Many marketers have been thinking about how to navigate and strike a balance between machine learning and manual management recently. (Did you see Brad Geddes’ keynote on SMX Advanced Day 2?).

What you stated was as follows

  • “Google’s journey toward AI and machine learning, which is robbing marketers of their decision-making and control.” While increased automation may make sense for certain marketers, there is a compelling case to be made for those who have the desire, skills, and resources to continue with manual account orchestration and intervention. With the match-type upgrades and introduction of RSAs, we’ve already seen fewer desired results in our research. It appears that Google’s actions are motivated by their desire to raise advertisement expenditure.”
  • “Having control of what we’re doing constantly stripped away by automation.”
  • “Everything is getting more automated, including wide targeting, data understanding, and total campaign control.”
  • “Over the years, there has been a gradual loss of control over targeting. Changes to search engines that visibly degrade performance are being sold to marketers as “upgrades.”
  • “Giving Google all control through smart bidding, dynamic advertisements, and a lack of reporting, all while watching costs rise year after year!”
  • “Those of us who don’t want automation are being forced to accept it by Google.”
  • “The constant push to transfer control of performance to platforms by adding automated tools and extending our targeting is my biggest aggravation.”
  • “I am a firm believer in algorithms.” But the concept that we should just start fresh campaigns with wide match keywords, an automated bidding strategy, and ad text written by a computer and believe it will work is ridiculous and patently wrong based on the tiny amount of search term data we have. It’s hard to believe anything Google says, and it’s much harder to believe the people who are compensated depending on automated feature acceptance rates. Our role is to give the system data, double-check that it’s the appropriate data, and then let the algorithms unearth extra value that we can’t see based on what we say is valuable to us.”
  • “Automatic bidding is all or nothing – I want to employ automated bidding while still turning off specific targeting.” But I can’t, and SA360 hasn’t figured out how to tell when a targeting option isn’t doing well in my account. Instead of having to resort to manual bidding, I should be able to turn off devices or pick dayparting/DOW targeting and have it function from there.”
  • “These days, forced automation is my least favorite aspect of PPC.” It’s made for high-volume accounts, especially e-commerce, and it doesn’t operate the same way for low-conversion-volume accounts. It’s quite annoying to have fewer and fewer alternatives for properly managing these sorts of accounts. Automation also results in a reduction in data access, which is inconvenient. Platforms are displaying less information and relying on consumers to “simply trust the machine learning.” Well, I’ve seen the query reports (with the data we can still access!), and based on what I’ve seen there, I don’t have much faith in machine learning.”
  • “Google and Bing salespeople’ continual push for automation. I understand; it is their responsibility to increase money for Google and Microsoft. We’ve tried automatic bidding, and it works for a while…until it starts to eat away at itself, and we have to resort to human bidding to get things back on track.”
  • “Every account is being forced to use Google’s automation.” Some of it is beneficial, while others just do not function in certain situations and are a source of revenue for them.”
  • “The never-ending push for automated bidding.” I exclusively do lead generation for local firms, and the advice I provide them is rarely useful. They talk to the consumer who doesn’t understand instead of going via the agency, which continuously undermines me.”

Google is on your side. Many of the responses we got particularly mentioned Google support as weak in terms of assisting. They usually miss the mark, no matter how hard they try.

  • “Google personnel who just advise you to apply everything from the Recommendations page without providing any extra insight or help.” I don’t need a call to remind me to look at the Recommendations page, and I’ll follow any recommendations that are relevant, not merely to boost a fictitious account score.”
  • “The Google Representatives that phone you even in the middle of the night is my least favorite aspect of PPC.” Although their advice might be useful at times, most of the time it will simply drain your account. To be honest, they’re somewhat obnoxious. On Facebook Groups, I get more sensible advice than their Representatives.”
  • “The continuous calls from Google personnel providing remedies that always impair the performance of my campaign.” The phone calls and emails are never-ending. It’s borderline harassment, and even though I’m in Europe and can generally use privacy rules to prohibit this type of thing, Google appears to be above the law and continues to do so despite my requests.”
  • “Representatives from Google Ads. “Wrong counsel.”
  • “Google reps bugging me to use the auto-recommendations feature.”
  • “Working with Google representatives who are more interested in expanding Google’s profit line than with improving your results.”