PPC Automation: 3 Emerging Trends You Can’t Afford to Miss

March 15th, 2023

PPC automation is revolutionising digital advertising. 

With the introduction of Google’s Performance Max and Facebook’s Advantage+, automation tools are already disrupting the PPC status quo, forcing advertisers to adapt to new technologies. 

Automation is now widely used in all aspects of marketing, from task management to social media scheduling. In fact, according to Hubspot, marketing is the largest business area leveraging automation, using it 76% more than sales teams and 139% more than finance teams. 

43% of marketers agree that automation and AI are the most effective trends for business growth. So PPC automation has always been a matter of when, not if. Now it’s here, PPC marketers need to embrace it. As PPC specialist Miles McNair says:

It’s clear this is the new direction for PPC. And there’s no point trying to fight the system. None of my concerns are going to alter Google’s course. So you need to learn how to leverage the new system to get the best results.

Miles McNair

Google Ads Specialist & Founder of PPC Mastery

This article features a round-up of three emerging trends all PPC marketers can expect to see in the near future. We’ll discuss:

  • The keywordless future of PPC ad campaigns
  • How “automation layering” can protect your ad budget
  • How to use ChatGPT to rapidly speed up PPC campaign creation 

Ready to get ahead of the PPC automation curve? Let’s go. 

Why PPC Automation Won’t Replace PPC Specialists

As automation becomes more prevalent in marketing, it’s natural to wonder about the future of your role. But PPC automation doesn’t signal the end of PPC jobs. It’s just a shift in focus.

Performance Max and other automated campaign types lower the barrier to entry for PPC. No specialist knowledge is needed — just set up your campaign goals and let the ad networks handle the rest. A complete novice should be able to set things up and get reasonable results (in theory). 

But this ease of use comes at the expense of control. Google and other ad platforms are gaining far more power over what goes on behind the scenes of your campaigns, putting your ad spend efficiency risk. So PPC specialists are still very much needed to maintain high levels of profitability.

With the right preparation and tools, you’ll be able to:

  • Prioritise your business goals over the goals of ad networks 
  • Optimise automated PPC campaigns for sales, leads, and revenue generation
  • Create the best possible assets to feed your automated campaigns
  • Maximise results while keeping your ad spend under control

PPC managers aren’t going anywhere – it’s not easy to maximise efficiency and profitability when using automated campaign types. So by beginning to prepare for these emerging PPC automation trends, you be able to add even more value in your role as a PPC pro.

1. The Keywordless Future of Paid Search

Keywords have always been a mainstay of PPC advertising. But Google is already moving away from the keyword model. And as automation becomes more prevalent, keywords are only going to become less important. In our webinar on optimising PMax campaigns, Miles explained:

We’ve already lost the original iteration of keywords because of things like close match variants and broad match. Exact keywords are not exact anymore. And that means we need to put more focus on the actual person behind the search.

Miles McNair

Google Ads Specialist & Founder of PPC Mastery

Keywords are still very useful for helping Google serve relevant ads to each individual search. But 15% of Google searches are completely new.

Google processes around 5.6 billion searches every day. That means there are approximately 840 million searches every day that Google doesn’t have any previous ad data for. That makes it harder to determine which ads will best serve these queries, or which resources will be most valuable to the searcher. 

Gradually moving away from keywords towards other sources of user intent is helping Google capitalise on these unique searches. It means they can offer more useful content and ads to these users. And they’re already integrating these new intent signals into their Paid and Organic Search algorithms. 

Projecting a few years ahead into the future, this might eventually mean no more keyword research, no more reviewing search terms, and no more adding negative keywords. But it could also mean you won’t receive any keyword data at all. In other words, you’ll have a lot less control and visibility over your Search campaigns.

Not only that, but Google may hide ad spend inefficiencies in your campaigns behind their walled garden of automation. Because you can’t see what’s happening behind the scenes, you don’t really know how your budget is being spent.

How Performance Max Removed Keyword-Targeting

Performance Max isn’t limited to Search. It delivers ads across the entire Google Network including Shopping, Gmail, YouTube, Maps, Discovery, and Display. 

But because it incorporates Search, it represents Google’s first major step away from keywords – giving an indication of what the future of dedicated Paid Search might look like. 

PMax is goal-based rather than keyword-based. This means the algorithm decides where and when to serve your ads based on inputs other than keywords. Those include:

  • Campaign objectives — Select the goal you want to achieve, such as boosting sales, generating leads, or increasing brand awareness.
  • Audience signals — Suggest audiences you think are most likely to convert to steer your campaign in the right direction.
  • Creative assets — Update your ad copy, images, and videos to attract your target audience and show your product in its best light.
  • Conversion goals — Add high-value conversion goals that relate directly to your campaign objectives.
  • Safety settings — Specify where you don’t want your ads to run.

Ultimately, Google aims to deliver better campaign results with less effort required from the end user. And PMax delivers on that promise to some extent by completely eliminating the time-consuming keyword management process. 

But the above inputs still need careful consideration and monitoring. You can’t simply set-and-forget a PMax campaign just because keywords are no longer involved in the targeting process.  

How Will Paid Search Work Without Keywords?

Paid Search is the most lucrative of Google’s ad formats, with search ads expected to generate $58.5 billion in revenue in 2023. But Paid Search has used a keyword-based model since its inception — so how will it work without keywords?

Search ads are still central to Google’s advertising strategy. But as AI and PPC automation tools improve, we expect to see a shift from keyword targeting to content-based targeting.

Landing pages are likely to become even more important as Google uses them to determine which search queries your ad is shown for. That means you should start to focus more on:

  • Improving on-page targeting — Ensure your landing page makes it clear what your product is and who it’s for.
  • Aligning goals — Make sure your PPC campaign goal aligns with your landing page conversion goal.
  • Optimising UX — A better landing page experience will improve your ad’s chances of being shown.

By analysing landing page content against campaign goals and Google’s historical search data, Google will effectively be able to run paid search ads without the need for keywords. 

As an advertiser, all you’ll need to do is input your landing page, campaign goal, and budget. The machines will take it from there, somewhat similar to how PMax currently works. 

Note: These changes aren’t happening soon, so don’t ditch your keyword planner just yet! But over the next three to five years, we expect Google to roll out a fully keywordless, dedicated Paid Search campaign type.

How to Prepare for a Keywordless Future

Forward-looking PPC pros are already considering how PPC advertising platforms will work when keywords are a thing of the past. 

Kasim Aslam, Founder of Solutions 8, believes keywords will still matter — advertisers just won’t be able to harness them in the same way they do now.

Our ability to use keywords on the front end, inside the Google Ads platform, is going to shift. And it’s going to shift to something more akin to SEO.

Kasim Aslam

Founder of Solutions 8

That means advertisers won’t be able to actively target keywords like they do now. Instead, they’ll need to use keywords consciously in their Paid Search landing pages. 

On-page keyword placement will help Google understand what your page is for and who should see it, just like with organic search. In this video, Kasim explains more about preparing for a keywordless future:

Here are five tips to help you prepare for this shift in using keywords:

  • Establish your business goals from the start — Goal-based campaigns aren’t going anywhere, so your team needs to be on the same page about what your paid ad campaigns are designed to achieve.
  • Optimise your whole website, not just your landing pagesInclude keywords related to your core product throughout your website to make it easy for Google to discover your site and understand what you want to advertise.
  • Get creative with your ad copy — Set yourself apart from other businesses with creative ad copy and high quality assets.
  • Learn everything you can about Performance Max — Google’s automated PPC campaigns will evolve, but building an in-depth understanding of PMax will ensure you’re prepared for the coming changes. 
  • Control what you can — Automation reduces advertisers’ control over their campaigns, but there are still factors you can adjust (such as bid management strategies and audience signals).

PPC automation is here to stay. That’s why it’s more important than ever to proactively eliminate fake ad engagements, invalid traffic, and junk leads from your campaigns (all of which inflate profit margins for ad networks). 

Lunio helps maximise the efficiency of automated campaigns (including PMax) in multiple ways: 

  • Eliminate fake and zero-value traffic before it hits your site
  • Achieve more sales within your target ROAS
  • Boost lead quality by blocking fake form submissions
  • Gain more transparency over traffic sources
  • Minimise data discrepancies between Google Analytics and your CRM

See how Lunio converts wasted ad spend into revenue.

2. PPC Automation Layering

Automation can also be used to your advantage. Automation layering involves using additional automated programs to protect your PPC campaigns from wasted ad spend.

Frederick Vallaeys, CEO at Optmyzr, explains why automation layering is useful:

Automation layering came in because we realised there’s quite a bit of work for humans to do manually when it comes to controlling and monitoring these algorithms… Basically, we put our own automations on top of what Google’s doing so that we stay in control.

Frederick Vallaeys

CEO of Optmyzer

Here’s what you need to know about PPC automation layering in a nutshell:

  • Automation layering involves implementing an automated third-party platform to act as a failsafe and keep your automated PPC campaigns performing as they should.
  • If your campaign starts to veer off track (in terms of bids or targeting), the automation layer will stop the campaign and alert you to the problem.
  • You can then make the necessary changes to ensure your PPC campaigns are fully optimised for results.

Without automation layering, it can be hours (or even days) before you realise an ineffective campaign is draining your ad budget. Third party automation layering tools like Optmyzr prevent this by alerting you to any undesirable PPC activity so you can make changes quickly.

Importantly, you control these additional layers. You can configure them to your campaigns, so they prioritise your needs — not Google’s bottom line.

Getting Started With Automation Layering

  • Use third party automation tools — Out-of-the-box solutions include built-in controls that allow you to configure your automation layer for your needs.
  • Set thresholds for financial metrics — For example, set a threshold so you know when your average CPC or CPA goes up.
  • Set spending limits — Use rules to automatically pause ads, ad groups, or campaigns when they’ve used a certain amount of your budget
  • Monitor your layers — Check your automation layers haven’t compromised PPC campaign performance by unexpectedly pausing certain campaign
  • Don’t set and forget — Even with automation layering in place, you should still manually monitor your campaigns to avoid overspending.

Interested in learning more about the ins and outs of automation layering? Check out the Optmyzer webinar below: Automation Layering: How to Stay in Control in a World of PPC Automation

3. The Rise of ChatGPT

ChatGPT is a massive trend right now. It gained a million users within just 5 days — 1,500% faster than Instagram (which took 2.5 months). And AI programs like these are only going to become more popular.

ChatGPT can help you automate the ad creation process. This is especially useful if you want to get multiple PPC campaigns off the ground quickly. But you shouldn’t rely on it to do all the hard work for you. Ahmed Chopdat at Circus PPC says:

As the saying goes, there are two sides to every story. One the one side, ChatGPT and other AI tools will absolutely become beneficial when it comes to monotonous, time-consuming tasks. On the other hand, access to, and total reliance on, these tools, will highlight ‘lazy PPC’ through usually avoidable and clumsy mistakes.

Ahmed Chopdat

Commercial Director at Circus PPC

Here are some of the pros and cons of using ChatGPT for PPC:

Benefits Risks
Makes campaign creation more efficientLack of originality
Creates a great starting point for your ad campaignsProne to factual errors
Makes keyword research quick and easyTone and messaging may not be right
Creates audience personas based on your product copyChatGPT can be repetitive when talking a lot about a similar topic
May not comply with ad regulations or legal requirements

Read our full article on using ChatGPT for PPC to find out more about putting PPC automation software into practice. We’ve created a 7-step framework to fully automated ad campaign creation across Search and Social.

Regain Control of Your Ad Spend

Each of these trends is already having a significant impact on online advertising. 

Keywords are already far less important than they used to be, and this is only going to continue as we head towards a keywordless future. Meanwhile, ChatGPT and other automated tools will help advertisers stay in control of their campaigns as ad networks become less and less transparent. 

Lunio can also help you stay in control of your ad budget. By stopping fake users from clicking your ads, you can protect and reallocate up to 25% of your ad spend. 

Ready to see it in action on your own campaigns? Get a Demo.

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