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A few years ago, marketers were keeping their distance from the majority of automations being rolled out by advertising platforms – or at least they were testing the waters slowly, as the technology was relatively un-proven. Fast-forward to 2019 and we’re putting a bit more faith in the algorithms, and Machine Learning in general.

While most marketers don’t (and shouldn’t) fully trust all the latest ‘Smart’ campaign features rolled out by the major ad platforms, there are certainly some automations that are well worth implementing for many marketing strategies. Some initial effort is required to get these automations up and running, but you’re certain to see a boost in performance and save some valuable time in the long run.

Here are three ways you can start incorporating automation into your day-to-day account management:

1. Set Automated Rules for Google & Bing

While this is a seemingly obvious automation, a surprisingly small percentage of advertisers have adopted use of automated rules. They are a powerful tool for monitoring performance, making timely status, bid, or budget adjustments, and generally for catching unusual changes quickly. Here are a few examples of effective automated rules you can implement:

  • Get email alerts for unusual or drastic account changes
  • Bid down on high-CPA (cost per action) keywords
  • Bid up on top-performing keywords
  • Automate ad status during promotions or other time-sensitive campaigns

Setting up Automated Rules in Google

At the Campaign, Ad Group, Ad, or Keyword level, filter for the appropriate items to apply the rule to, then select the items, choose ‘Edit,’ and ‘create an automated rule’. Here’s an example of what automated scheduling of a promo ad would look like:

Setting up Automated Rules in Bing

Follow the same process in Bing’s platform – select the appropriate items you’d like to automate and choose the ‘Automate’ drop-down. Here’s an example of what automated scheduling of a promo ad would look like in Bing:

Additional Tips for Automated Rules

  • Always preview the rule to see how it works before launching.
  • Elect to receive email notifications! It’s always good to QC the changes made.
  • Check all Automated Rules that are currently active and view all activity easily by navigating to ‘Manage Rules’ in either platform.
  • Re-visit rules and parameters used on a regular basis to refine them.

2. Use Dynamic Creative (Facebook / Instagram)

The Dynamic Creative feature in Facebook’s ad platform offers a unique solution for ad testing that can help inform your creative strategy on the platform. The concept is simple: the advertiser can add multiple variations of creative (image/video/carousel), headlines, post text, link descriptions, and CTAs. Facebook’s algorithm does the rest by creating every possible variation of the ad and optimizing toward the versions that drive your goal with most efficiency.

If your business is still in a learning phase and aiming to understand what elements of their ads resonate best with each audience, then this is a powerful tool, and the insights you’ll gather can help refine your creative process moving forward.

Setting up Dynamic Creative

Step 1: Enable Dynamic Creative at the ad set level

Step 2: Add Multiple Creatives, Headlines, Descriptions, Text Options, and CTAs

Step 3: Assess Performance and Adjust

Dynamic Creative can take a bit longer than usual to gain some steam during Facebook’s initial learning phase, but once this is through, the results should improve significantly. To check on performance, navigate to the Ads tab and choose ‘Breakdown’ > ‘By Dynamic Creative Asset’. Unfortunately, Facebook only allows you to analyze one element of the creative at a time, rather than showing which unique combinations under-performed; this is one significant drawback that may be fixed in the near future.

Consider swapping new elements into the mix based on pieces that under-performed or under-served.

Additional Tips & Considerations for Dynamic Creative

  • Start with Automatic Placements, then once enough impression volume is collected you can make data-driven decisions on which to remove, if any.
  • Before setting your Dynamic Creative live, preview to make sure all variations make sense and there are no unusual combinations that don’t work.
  • Consider the fact that Social Proof (likes, comments, shares) will not collect on these ads quite as well as others because each variation holds a separate Ad ID.

3. Responsive Search Ads (Google)

Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) represent yet another step toward more automated ad delivery on Google. Google’s latest ad format employs machine learning to deliver relevant messaging to your audience and has the added bonus of even more real estate on the SERPs than Expanded Text Ads.

Here’s how Responsive Search Ads work: The advertiser can create a single ad with multiple Headline and Description variations, then Google’s algorithms deliver the combinations most likely to achieve the campaign objective. Pretty simple. The advertiser obviously loses a certain level of control over ad delivery but stands to gain from the larger ad format and greater chance to compete in auctions thanks to multiple ad variations.

With RSAs, you’ll be eligible to show up to three headlines (instead of two), and up to two 90-character descriptions (instead of one 80-character description). This expanded format won’t show in all cases but will certainly add value to the ad rotation.

Setting up RSAs

Step 1: In the desired ad group, start by creating a new ad and selecting the new format (currently in beta):

Step 2: Enter URL

Step 3: Develop Headlines & Descriptions

More headlines can help increase your performance! Try to make the headlines distinct from each other, and then try re-phrasing existing headlines in different ways or creating different CTAs. Also try to get close to the 30-character limit with some headlines and try a few others in shorter length.

Add up to four distinct descriptions if possible, and remember you have a 90-character limit – use that space wisely to convey your message!

 

Step 4: Consider Pinning Headlines Only if Necessary

In some cases, the advertiser may want to ‘pin’ a headline or description in a particular position within the ad – for instance, calling out the Brand Name or a particular promotion in H1. RSAs allow you to do this, although it’s not recommended since it dramatically reduces the number of possible ad variations, thus limiting the algorithm.

Additional tips for RSAs:

  • Run Expanded Text Ads alongside RSAs to test initially.
  • Use at least 8-10 headlines, varying lengths and messages.
  • Incorporate keywords from the ad group within 2 or more of your headlines, as this is still a best practice with RSAs.
  • Over time, pull ad results to assess the possibility of replacing certain variants that under-performed or under-served.

As time passes and you get your system of QA established, you’ll get more comfortable using these rules to save time that you can put toward strategic account management. And as the platforms get better at developing automations, make sure you have a plan to keep testing features to make the most of their potential.