As a new year (or decade!) turns over, it’s natural to take stock of what has changed and what is to come. It’s no secret that automation has been a disruptive industry trend over the last several years, but what will this new year bring on the automation front? We have a few predictions, and guess what? They do not include any doom-and-gloom, losing-our-jobs-to-robots type of talk! On the contrary, we look forward to working alongside our robot friends to get to deeper and better strategies than ever before.

Without further ado, here are four things you should expect out of PPC automation in 2020!

New Features to Offer Increased Control:

By now, hopefully you’ve been warming up to automation. Maybe you’ve even tested some fully automated bid strategies, campaign types like Smart Shopping, or automated ad formats in your account. Maybe you’ve seen the stellar performance that the machine learning algorithms can drive. More than likely, you’ve experienced one of the most common pieces of pushback to automation — the loss of control and insight.

With brand new features available to all or in beta at the end of 2019, it’s clear Google is attempting to address common issues that prevent advertisers from being able to leverage automation tools. One example of these tools is Seasonality Adjustments for Smart Bidding. This allows users to tell the algorithm conversion rate changes are expected so it can adjust accordingly. Most commonly, this is used for a sale or promotion period but could also be used if down performance is anticipated over holiday weekends for a B2B advertiser, for example.

In 2020, we expect more features to come to market to address common barriers so that more advertisers can drive performance via machine learning.

Data Aggregation Over Segmentation:

It used to be that we wanted as much control as possible over every aspect of our paid search accounts, which often led to highly segmented account structures. Device-specific and audience targeted campaigns were all the rage. Today, while of course we still want enough control to provide an excellent user experience for the searcher, segmentation for the sake of segmentation is out and data aggregation is in.

Why? The more data points we can provide the algorithms with to understand what users we expect to convert on what types of queries, the stronger performance we can expect. By aggregating campaigns and reverting hyper-segmentation (that was SO last year), we position the algorithms, and ourselves, for greater success.

Fewer Data Points Needed:

Speaking of data volume requirements, they actually seem to be getting looser. For example, target CPA no longer requires any conversions to launch. And while even I, a huge automation champion, was skeptical of launching a campaign on smart bidding with 0 data points, I’ve tested and have seen it work in many cases. How is this possible? Google is actually looking at account-level search term and audience data, so they aren’t starting from scratch for new campaigns. However, it’s important to note that fewer data points will always equate to a longer “learning” period.

Moving forward, we’ll expect this trend to continue, with bid strategies and smart campaign types requiring fewer data points and driving stronger performance in more limited data landscapes.

Improved Performance for Newer Features:

Target CPA is the oldest fully automated bid strategy, and not surprisingly, the first that really started generating consistently strong results over the last several years. Now, we are seeing strong results with smart campaign types as well as other bid strategies such as target ROAS and maximize conversions. Although the options are more limited, we are also seeing success with target CPA in Bing. They say computing power doubles every 18 months, and we can expect similar acceleration in PPC automation, leaving room for success among more nascent options.

In conclusion, the smart PPC marketer is diligently testing new features, finding new ways to drive value, and remaining flexible as the industry changes. While there is no longer a need to spend hours per week adjusting bids, you do need to know how to most effectively harness and interact with the automation tools available to you. Long gone are the days where we can sit back and write these technologies off as a vast conspiracy to take away our control (and our jobs!), so if you aren’t yet testing — this is your year!

Looking for a partner to help you test automation in your account? Contact our team.