When I head home to visit my parents, my mom never fails to comment that I’m getting lazier. Sadly, she’s right! Thanks to good old technology, I haven’t been to a real bank in years, I’ve cut out mall visits in favor of online shopping in the comfort of my sweats and shamefully, I Uber far more than I walk (it’s far too cold to be outdoors in New England, I swear!). Admittedly, technology has made super mundane tasks even easier and, while I definitely appreciate the convenience factor, I do recognize that we’ve gone a little too far at times. Case in point—these inventions actually DO exist:
An “Automatic Pet Petter” with possibly the best tagline I’ve ever read: “Never touch your pets again!”.
Zippy’s Battery Operated Scissors for when your hands are too weak to… cut paper?
And finally, the Fork Extender. Because sometimes you’re too tired to actually lift the fork up to your mouth (ok, I can sympathize with that).
Even Google has jumped on the laziness bandwagon and is providing more automated services for PPC advertisers. Here’s a recap of the top 4 tasks you no longer have to do manually in AdWords:
#1: Callout Extensions
Last year, Google added Callouts to the growing list of ad extensions available to paid search advertisers. These extensions give advertisers the opportunity to include an additional line of text in their ads to highlight benefits such as free shipping, price matching, discounts and more.
Although their initial setup process was fairly simple, Google recently announced that it was rolling out a fully automated version. With the new dynamic callout extensions, AdWords will pull information about your business and products directly from your site to be displayed in text ads. You get all the benefit of callouts without having to do any of the work. Total win for the lazy among us.
Not confident that a machine can do your business justice? Don’t worry, you can still create Callouts manually, which will trump the dynamic version.
#2: Countdowns in Ads
Anyone who has suffered through a semester of Psych 101 can school you on the Principle of Scarcity, which states that people are highly motivated when they fear that they may lose out on something. For decades, smart advertisers have taken advantage of our innate sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) by running limited-time-only sales promotions, seasonal products (Pumpkin Spiced Lattes anyone?) and warning of dwindling product supply.
There’s no doubt that this strategy is incredibly effective but it’s traditionally been a headache for PPC account managers to integrate into their ads, as it required regular updates as the sale period closed/product supply diminished.
Within the last year, Google released Ad Customizers, which have been a true game-changer for paid search advertisers. This feature allows you to set parameters within your ads that are replaced with dynamic text when an ad is triggered by a search, producing real-time updates automatically. Customizers can include a wide range of data—from location specific information, product details and pricing—but we’re most excited about the countdown feature that gives advertisers the opportunity to highlight days remaining in a sale or decreasing product availability. Your ad text will count down the days automatically so you don’t have to keep manually changing it!
#3: Extensions for Shopping Ads
Earlier this year, AdWords made the transition to fully automated extensions for Shopping Ads, causing many e-commerce advertisers around the globe to rejoice. While this was not a complicated task, far too many advertisers were neglecting to actually make it to that section of their to-do list.
So, AdWords took matters into their own hands and began automating extension creation, based on retailers’ feed information. The goal is to include information that potential shoppers may find useful, like free shipping or significant price drops. Take note: While this was certainly a positive change for retailers who offer regular deals, it’s likely to have a negative impact on those who do not, so make sure you have other ways to stand out on the SERP.
#4: Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs)
This is one of the most heavily automated features that AdWords offers. Unlike typical search ads, which are triggered by keyword matches, DSAs are triggered based off your site content. To do this, Google leverages its organic web-crawling technology to analyze your website. When a user searches a query that AdWords deems relevant to the site content, it will enter a dynamically produced ad in the auction.
DSA is incredibly easy for advertisers to implement and manage because Google automates the majority of the work. While this may feel like an overly hands-off approach to some PPCers, it’s certainly nothing like the widely disdained AdWords Express product. DSAs come with various levels of control. From a targeting perspective, you can choose to show ads based on your entire website or specific categories or pages. Plus, you can protect your overall spend by setting specific bids, budget restrictions and negative keywords.
Seems too good to be true, right? Well, it’s important to note that DSAs aren’t necessarily a great fit for all PPC advertisers. As always, the manual route affords advertisers more control and usually yields better results. However, these are a godsend for businesses who have an enormous inventory with consistently changing products (like seasonal lines), which can be a nightmare for advertisers to maintain manually!
Why Is Google Shifting to a More Automated Model?
Most marketing platforms subscribe to the old “if it ain’t broke down fix it” model. There was certainly nothing wrong with the original versions of these four features, so why did Google invest time and resources in automating them?
I suspect that the reasoning was two-fold. Firstly, Google strives to be a customer-centric company and, as such, aims to give searchers a great experience with both their organic AND paid listings. Features like extensions provide valuable information to these searchers, enhancing their experience. In addition, Google wants to ensure advertisers are successful on its network, so they continue to use it (and support its main revenue stream). When features Google deems valuable have low adoption rates, it takes matters into its own hands by reducing barriers or eliminating them altogether through automation.
Is Automation Leveling the Playing Field TOO Much?
Years ago, only the most advanced, well-informed advertisers were taking advantage of AdWords’ “bells and whistles” to strengthen their performance. As Google makes the setup processes for these “extras” easier and easier, they’re becoming the norm. This may be frustrating for those of us who go the extra mile to nail advanced features but, rest assured, there’s always something bigger, better and more sophisticated to give a whirl.
About the Author
Erin Sagin is a PPC Evangelist and Community Manager at WordStream. She was recently named the 3rd Most Influential PPC Expert of 2015 by PPC Hero. When she’s able to take a break from paid search, you’ll find her practicing her hula-hooping skills or planning her next trip to Latin America. You can follow Erin on Twitter and Google+.