The future is here! Actually, it’s been here for a while, and you’ve probably heard about it already. The word “automation” has been floating around for some time now, not only in the digital marketing world but in nearly all facets of life. Often, the theory of automation is followed by a disgruntled or frustrated person saying, “Robots are taking our jobs.” This isn’t an unrealistic conclusion to come by, as what we can accomplish with automation has proven to be astronomical.
We’ve seen the world of PPC slowly shift to becoming more automated in the past few years; these days, it feels like there’s little we can’t do with it. With everything from automatic bidding strategies, keyword opportunities, negative keywords, and even ad testing, it feels we’re removing the necessity of PPC experts and putting our faith into a machine’s carefully calculated results.
Where does this all leave us? Some may believe that it leaves us at “Robots are taking our jobs.” This isn’t quite true though; there is still a number of things that automation in PPC hasn’t quite perfected. There are some things about our ability to gauge and make decisions based on distinctly human considerations — and automation can’t take that away from us. What this means for us is a shift in our focus, bringing our attention away from mundane tasks and allowing us to perfect the things that automation cannot yet understand.
The Human Touch
A computer won’t understand the nuances of your business or client goals, both of which are critical when making decisions that affect advertising.
A computer won’t understand emotions or display empathy, both of which are critical when building client relationships.
A computer won’t understand certain scenarios where the human touch is absolutely necessary.
There are many examples of when the human touch trumps automation in PPC. Brad Geddes, Co-Founder of AdAlysis makes some compelling arguments with certain scenarios that require a human behind the machine. In his first example, he points out how machines are unable to distinguish an ad with an “uncompelling offer” and will instead suggest more variants of the same uncompelling offer. A person, however, would be able to take a look at the same ad and understand that the bigger picture needs to be changed in order to improve performance.
The second scenario he mentions is when a landing page is broken, a machine cannot identify this as a reason behind the decline in Return On Ad Spend (ROAS) and instead, will continue to lower bids. Even if a person comes along to fix the landing page, the machine can’t recognize this, making it critical that a person manually raises the bid again so that the results can return to the front page, and ROAS can resume increasing.
The third scenario that Geddes provides shows the importance of human audits. Using common sense, a human would be quick to note that a holiday campaign was not paused in time, whereas a machine would not notice this information until much later when it has the data to confirm that the holiday ads are no longer performing.
These three are just some of the many scenarios that represent that human touch is absolutely necessary to ensure paid ad campaigns are running smoothly. However, just because the human aspect is necessary, it doesn’t mean the position isn’t evolving. We’re now in this incredibly unique position where people must work together with automation for the ultimate PPC success.
The Role of Agencies
Optmyzr co-founder Fred Vallaeys notes that the role of PPC agencies will change to focus on four roles once automation takes over. He believes agencies are still necessary to teach the machines; years of manual campaign management provide the data needed to show the machines what to look for. Furthermore, he claims that agencies will have the creativity that machines lack. He credits humans to being “good at creative strategy,” providing the machines with variables.
Arguably even more important, Vallaeys notes that “agencies will be the pilot who averts disaster.” He compares the situation to how self-driving cars are not the same as driverless cars. There is still a person in the pilot seat to monitor the machine. Much like the driver of the self-driving cars, an agency can act as a monitor for the more critical areas of automation in PPC.
Finally, he draws attention to the fact that machines do not have the empathy that humans do. Even our best computers cannot build that uniquely human connection with clients like an agency can. With the right automation in place, agencies can now focus on that human connection and ensuring the correct automation is being utilized for each client.
Both of these industry professionals understand that while automation is making huge advancements at a rapid pace, it is not here to replace the PPC expert. Instead, automation is another tool that the experts must harness and understand how to use appropriately, and eventually better for the future. Automation is here, but it still has a long way to go before the role of PPC expert is under scrutiny. The machines are great, but at the end of the day, the people behind them are a necessity.
In 2019, it is guaranteed that automation and robots are not taking our jobs; instead, they’re making their own. They are changing the digital marketing landscape, and our roles are changing right along with it. As we embrace automation in PPC moving forward and learn to cooperate with these tools, it will be thrilling to see how our roles will continue to change and adapt to work alongside these systems in the coming years. 2019 is definitely looking up in terms of PPC trends!
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