Weighing the pros and cons for auto dealers.
We’re all trying to do more with less, and Google has created a variety of tools aimed at helping businesses do just that. Within Google Ads, Recommendations and Smart Bidding are two features that use Google’s machine learning algorithms and claim to help advertisers run their campaigns more efficiently and effectively. But are they actually worth your time?
After more than a decade evaluating enhancements from Google and managing PPC campaigns for auto dealers, here are our takeaways.
In your Ads account, Google provides recommendations to help improve your ad creative and campaigns. These customized suggestions may introduce you to new features, share ways to adjust your bidding strategy and get more from your budget, or help improve your optimization score.
Implementing recommendations from Google while managing campaigns on its ad platform may seem like a safe bet, but you should think critically about each recommendation before moving forward. Accepting 100% of these recommendations could actually increase costs, limit reach, and negatively impact your overall strategy.
Your dealership has clear goals and well-defined strategies that you should weigh against Google’s recommendations. Without careful consideration, a recommendation that doesn’t align with your goals or take into account your unique targeting strategy can derail performance. Additionally, many industries and brands have advertising or compliance guidelines that prohibit the use of certain language that is otherwise relevant to your business. For instance, there are often restrictions on advertising used vehicles or fixed ops in campaigns focused on new car advertising. Guidelines like these are not taken into account when Google generates suggested headlines and descriptions.
TL;DR: Don’t accept every recommendation. Take the time to consider the pros and cons of each, and only implement recommendations that will improve performance and make your ad campaigns more competitive.
Smart Bidding uses Google’s machine learning algorithms to automatically adjust bids throughout the day with the goal of maximizing your ad spend and improving your campaign results. Automated bidding may save you time and energy, but results vary when it comes to saving money
In automotive, when your advertising goal is to generate leads who either reach out to your dealership or walk into your physical store-front, your bid strategies should focus on generating leads. We work with hundreds of car dealerships across the country and are running numerous tests to see how Smart Bidding impacts campaign performance. We assume that one day smart bidding will outperform traditional bidding for certain dealers. But today, it’s not uncommon for campaigns with Smart Bidding to spend more than campaigns with manual bidding. In fact, tests we’ve run have shown that campaigns with a ‘Maximize Conversions’ bidding type experience up to 4x higher CPC and higher Cost Per Conversion due to higher costs that do not translate into a comparable increase in conversions.
Because of cases like this, we recommend carefully reviewing your internal data and making sure automated bidding performs better before implementing across campaigns. Smart Bidding still has a ways to go before it is definitively better than manual bidding, but we are starting to see degrees of success across some accounts and testing new strategies every day.
If you need help managing your digital advertising campaigns effectively, reach out. Our team of digital advertising strategists monitors accounts and updates bids on a daily basis to ensure dealers get the most from their ad spend. We can work with you to assess ad recommendations, actively manage your accounts, and help your dealership succeed. Request a free digital analysis to learn more.