Automation With Heart – Why Algorithms Are My New Frienemy
Back in the olden days, when I was new to paid search, and to search marketing in general, there were a lot of things I didn’t know. This is pretty common when you first start out at something new – certain things aren’t second nature or common sense yet, and that’s okay. The unknown aspects of paid search were terrifying to me. In hindsight it seems both reasonable and embarrassing, given the amount of client confidence that is instilled in us on a daily basis to conservatively and responsibly manage their marketing budgets.
Most notably, I was intimidated by and steered very clear of campaign automations and tools that did the work for me because A) I didn’t know how they worked, and B) I thought it meant that I didn’t know how to do my job if I had to rely on a tool to do it for me. And Miss Judge-y McJudgerson (that would be me) looked down her nose at anyone that used automation as a fallback for all their client campaigns.
Now that I have all these years of paid search under my belt and hundreds of client campaigns managed, my opinion of custom automation and algorithms has shifted. My new and improved opinion, nicely wrapped in sterilized plastic is that I think you need a balance of Automation and Heart to make a client campaign a success.
Why would you need automation?
Well, because at the end of the day you are human and there are only so many things that your eyes and brain can ingest in a day. For clients with 50+ campaigns targeting thousands of different keywords, locations, demographics, and whatnot, it’s nearly impossible for one person to effectively manage every bid manually. Creating a custom algorithm to catch things you may miss is what I like to call responsible management, and if you, like my younger self, look down your nose at that then you clearly don’t see the bigger picture. I currently have a national client that has 71 active campaigns, which means over 330,000 keywords that need to be touched on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Doing this manually, which I attempted to do for nearly a year, was practically impossible and didn’t get me anywhere near the ROI goals the client set out for me. Creating custom algorithms was the only way that I could get into the nooks and crannies of the account, trim the fat, and knock the ROI out of the park.
When is a good time to use automation?
– When you need to clean up an overwhelming account
– When you need to meet specific ROI or spend goals
– When you want to experiment with bidding models,
but the scale is too large to efficiently run a Google Experiment
– When position isn’t as important as traffic, or vise versa.
Do I think you should ONLY automate bids?
Absolutely not. Some campaigns need a human touch. For all the data we collect on a daily basis, some optimization and management moves are made with your gut, and as you gain experience in this industry you are more and more comfortable making those moves as you learn about human behavior. Also, clients need a human connection to help them deal with the fact that they are willingly parting with cash and they don’t physically get to touch or control it as it leaves their accounts. As an account manager, you are there to grease the wheels, answer questions about strategy, and explain the idiosyncrasies of Google’s updates and quirks. As an account manager, you are the heart of the campaign and it is important to not downplay your role by relying fully on algorithms and automation. Like all things in life, moderation is key. Find a balance that works for you, your client, and your workload.