Is PPC Automation the Solution or Problem?

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What Is PPC Campaign Bidding?

Whether you’re at a marketing agency or you’re a freelance contractor, you’ve probably had some experience using Google Ads Paid Search Campaigns. Of all the moving parts of any PPC campaign, the most crucial is bidding on keywords. Bidding controls your overall costs and drives metrics like cost per acquisition (CPA), cost per lead (CPL), lead (MQL & SQL) costs, and customer acquisition costs (CAC).

One option is to let Google take the wheel and decide what is best for your business. It will set up your PPC campaigns for optimal click traffic, maximum conversion volume, increasing brand awareness, etc.

Or you can uncheck this box and run the show yourself. There are many reasons to take the easy route and let Google do all the heavy lifting. Which may leave you wondering, “Why any company would ever manage campaigns manually?”


PPC Campaign Automation vs. Manual Ad Control: What’s Best for My Business?

There isn’t a perfect world situation that combines saving time with PPC automation while manually managing costs and bidding. But as a collaborative PPC ad management agency, we still want to help you make an informed decision when setting up your next campaign.

Here are some of the benefits and pitfalls associated with both types:


PPC Automation Benefits:

  • Decreases time needed by individuals to manage and maintain paid search campaigns running on Google.
  • With enough data, it can bring in the results you expect like lead generation, driving down CPA, or generating quality user traffic to your website.


PPC Automation Pitfalls:

  • You lose control of managing campaigns. So if things start to trend negatively, you need to try and course correct through more advanced managed techniques like bid modifiers, goal CPA settings, adjusting geographical targeting and bid modifications, and so on.
  • If you aren’t already generating the high volumes of traffic needed for Google’s automation algorithm, then regardless of how you set up the PPC campaigns, it will be very difficult to achieve your goals and objectives.


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Manual Paid Ad Control Benefits:

  • Since you control everything, the volume of data and site traffic is not a factor.
  • Directly controls bidding down to the individual keyword to truly drive effective results at any budget.
  • If any campaigns begin trending negatively, you can quickly make adjustments. You can avoid additional time for the automation algorithm to learn your new directives.


Manual Paid Ad Management Issues:

  • Depending on the size of your campaign, it can be a considerable time investment to manage and update.
  • You need to review your campaigns much more often. With automation, it’s almost a “set it and forget it” mentality. But with manual bidding and management of campaigns, you need to review performance and make adjustments a few times or more each week.


The Proof is in the Experience

Every campaign strategy is unique to the company. So, there is not a concrete answer to this question in the argument of either management style. Below, we outline a personal experiment that a client agreed to implement for testing:


How the PPC Campaign Strategy Started:

Initially, all campaigns were set up to launch within Google Ads Automation for various outcomes. This included not generating leads above a projected CPA (cost per acquisition), optimal site quality traffic, and maximum conversion volume.

Performance was a mixed bag. Some campaigns did well using automation right from the start, requiring little management outside of blocking irrelevant searches.

But one particular campaign was put through most automation objectives with nearly zero performance. (Literally, zero! As in a handful of ad impressions and not a single click).



What Did Our Agency Do to Course Correct this PPC Campaign?

As a proven PPC marketing agency, we know that testing doesn’t always end with the results you wanted. So, we took the following steps to get our client’s metrics back on track:

  1. We reset that particular campaign strategy by pausing the automated campaign and rebuilding it from scratch in manual mode. This allowed us full control to uncover the real reasons why this campaign was not generating any traffic, leads, or impressions.
  2. We started with very high bids to win auctions and get in front of users in an effort to collect data for future optimizations.
  3. We made constant bid adjustments to scale down our max cost exposure. After roughly 4 months, we started to stabilize lead generation and quality website traffic. We were also honing in on individual keyword bids and optimal ad group level max bids to control costs while maintaining visibility.
  4. Once we achieved a stable performance and confirmed with our client that lead quality was also on point, we were able to transition the bidding into Google’s Max Conversion Automation strategy. This moved us away from our manual process of setting up ad group bids accordingly to continue the flow of website traffic.
  5. Months later and due to our manual process providing Google with enough usable site traffic data, their automation is still holding strong. The client is consistently bringing in dozens of quality leads each month along with hundreds of site visitors.


So… What’s the Answer?

It depends. Even experienced paid ad strategists can sometimes make incorrect assumptions that require a pivot. In our case, it was one campaign that just didn’t have enough data for its automation to profitably run the campaign. But the solution is to know how to manage campaigns when the outcomes are not what your business expected or needs.

Is your business running PPC marketing campaigns and not finding much success? Reach out to Creative MMS for an initial PPC audit. It never hurts to get a second set of eyes on anything. You get another opinion on your health from doctors and medical professionals, so why not get a second opinion on your business’s health?

Jim Van HornJune 02, 2022by Jim Van Horn