As I write this in winter, the weather is cold and miserable. Trees are without leaves, and grass isn’t growing like it was six months ago. There can’t be a summer without a winter. The cycle of life involves death, and often in nature, without death new life can’t come forth.
Why am I telling you this? The same is true of digital agencies. If an agency refuses to adapt old processes that are no longer necessary, it will eventually die. It will become the dodo of the digital agency world.
Within the last 12 months alone, there have been huge shifts in technology changing how tasks are tackled in paid search. More often that not, this is good I’m excited by how automation can do our ‘dirty work’ – the tasks we humans no longer need to do.
Every end has a beginning
2020 has the potential to be the beginning of the end for many things within PPC, but this needn’t be feared. Old habits do sometimes die hard, but it’s better for old habits to die hard, than for the source of the habit to die itself.
Rule number one: don’t settle.
Think about BlackBerry; their end started when Apple launched the iPhone, and companies realised you didn’t need a physical keypad on a phone. Touchscreen phones, and Blackberry’s lack of innovation on this front, was the beginning of their decline.
A similar issue is arising in PPC, one that’s both great and terrifying for agencies.
You might have built who you are on fairly solid foundations, and success may even have come quickly and with ease, but resting on laurels could be the worst thing you ever do where emerging technologies are concerned.
Future-proof your workflow
First things first, a confident prediction: paid search agencies who don’t get on-board with Smart Bidding won’t be around in five years.
You’re probably often looking for the most efficient ways of completing tasks, and getting the best results. This does not, I should stress, involve cutting corners. What it does involve is looking for ways of making inefficient practices efficient.
There are many ways you can achieve efficiency within Google Ads, as well as using external software. Firstly, here are the Google Ads wins you should be aware of:
Automating rule changes for ads/campaigns
This is one of the oldest and simplest tricks in the Google Ads book – using rules to enable or pause ads for sales, or to ensure a particular campaign goes live at an exact hour.
Using these rules means all you have to do is set them up and let Google do the rest. If that means you save a good chunk of time enabling and pausing hundreds of sale ads, why wouldn’t you do it?
Optimising Smart Bidding
Your daily task management may have changed so you now spend only half the time you previously did changing bids and tweaking adjustments across location, schedule, device and audience datasets. And so it should if you’re using Google’s Smart Bidding.
However, smart bidding still needs optimising. The captain of an aeroplane doesn’t just put the plane on auto-pilot and have a nap; they ensure it reaches its destination safely and adjusts the flight path accordingly, should there be changes needed.
The exact same has to be done with Smart Bidding. Two of the most common pitfalls are people setting up Smart Bidding and expecting it to work instantaneously, and users not optimising Smart Bidding.
The latter is especially problematic as it means you’re just leaving Google to run the Smart Bidding for you. The best way to achieve the performance you need is to manipulate and optimise individual ad group targets.
If, for example, you have a campaign using Target ROAS Smart Bidding working towards 1,000%, there will likely be ad groups within there that are both surpassing target and not hitting it. Optimising the targets of these individual ad groups is essential to rounding out the campaign’s performance.
Utilising external tech
You’re good at what you do. That’s great. But you probably have limited brain capacity. Eventually, we all hit a level where we consistently flatline our ability to do tasks that don’t require too much specialisation.
If this is the case, why not consider using external software to help efficiency? This could be something like Optmyzr, which can severely aid productivity. Where both external software and Smart Bidding are concerned, the chance to alleviate potential human error is one that shouldn’t be sniffed at and offers huge peace of mind.
Reinvesting time saved Into creative endeavours
One of the best things you can do with any time saved from utilising a smarter way of working, is using it to do the tasks you maybe didn’t get round to as often as you wanted, or even visiting new areas.
This could come in many forms: setting up dynamic remarketing for the first time, creating more innovative audiences, checking and updating your ad extensions. The time saved thanks to AI-completed tasks can mean an account gets more attention and better optimisation and results than ever before. This is a huge win-win.
A challenge to agencies
Any agency refusing to use smart bidding will lose clients clicks, revenue and return by not being able to compete with those utilising it. They’ll do too much manual work in the account, ultimately not spending their time wisely and achieving the same results, or worse, than what smart bidding could – all without being as productive as they could be.
Don’t try and reinvent the wheel when it comes to practices and patterns of work, but be mindful that previous success could in fact be your downfall if you fail to keep up with where your industry is going. This applies to a wider field than just PPC.
Ensuring you still offer value is the most important thing you can do as an agency – or freelancer – especially with more and more of the tasks you made your name for previously now being completed by AI. Building and maintaining client relationships, being at the forefront of new types of ads and campaigns, and ensuring you know how to get the best out of the AI you’re using in accounts will go some way to making sure you’re still valuable, in whatever capacity you operate.
Finally, embrace new methodology. Try new things. Experiment. If you work in Paid Search, use Smart Bidding to help shape a more efficient working day. Whatever you do, don’t relent and think that the way you’ve always done things will be the way things will always be done.
Agencies can still have a future, provided they remain client-focused and latch on to the industry’s creative shift.