Pay per click advertising (PPC) can be a fantastic solution to getting your site seen, and it allows smaller companies with smaller budgets to compete with the big boys by going after niche keywords. The downsides are that if you don’t know what you're doing, PPC can be a merciless mistress, who'll swallow up your monthly budget quicker than you can say 'whoopsie'.
One solution is to get yourself an Adwords account manager; someone qualified to take care of your campaign for a percentage of your budget. They will care and nurture your campaign through all its hiccups, its failures and successes. The other way is to get reading, start small and build up your own knowledge. This may involve a lot of trial and error, a lot of blown budgets and poor click through rates until you really wrap your head around it.
But now there's a third way – let Google do it for you.
With the release of some new Adwords tools, we see Google moving its PPC advertising towards automation. The aim of the Display Campaign Optimiser is to automatically manage targeting and bidding for adverts on the display network. All Google needs is your CPA (cost per acquisition), creatives (your written ads) and your budget, and it's ready to do all the leg work for you. This means not only finding the right places for your ads, but then monitoring and automatically adjusting them to get the most out of them for your budget as it learns what works and what doesn't. The Optimiser is only available for larger campaigns and only available on the Content Network.
For everyone else with a newer campaign, there's the new contextual targeting tool, a tool designed to gather and automate keyword lists for your campaign. It can build tightly themed ad groups in no time at all, and we're not talking single ad groups here, but hundreds of ad groups, all incredibly relevant to your initial keyword group. Again, this is only available for use on the content network.
With the Search Network still untouched by automation, there's still plenty of life left in the campaign management game, but don't be surprised to see Google developing more and more of these automated tools. After all, ads that work well, are highly relevant and result in good sales are as important to Google as they are to you – don't forget that they're getting paid every time someone clicks on your ad, so it's in their favour to help you make a success of your campaign.
So does this mean the end of PPC managers? Thankfully for those of us in the business, the answer is not quite yet, but for how long?