Automated vs. Manual PPC

04 April 2017

Automated vs. Manual_PPC

These days, companies that use pay-per-click advertising (PPC) have to answer one crucial question: who does the job best – humans or computers? The answer is rarely straight-forward, but we will look at where to start.

The case for computers

Tools for automated PPC just keep getting better and better. The range keeps growing, too, and so does your chance of finding an “off-the-peg” solution that is close to a perfect fit for your needs. They are superb for segmenting campaigns and offer massive efficiency in terms of taking care of the day-to-day spadework of PPC management, leaving humans free to use their time and skills where it really matters, e.g. on person-to-person account/relationship management or developing strategy.

Another big advantage of automated systems is that they are unfazed by complexity, so if your business has reached the stage where you need to manage large numbers of keywords (even for small businesses, this can run into hundreds and as businesses grow can soon become thousands), then you may well find that automation is the only cost-effective solution for you.

The simple reality is that if you choose to use fully manual PPC management then you really need to be prepared to dedicate significant human resources to it. In fact, even in smaller companies, managing PPC manually can easily turn into a full-time post, with all that implies financially.

The case for humans

Manual PPC management is all about control. You have complete discretion about how aggressive (or not) you want to be with your bids. It also has the advantage of speed. If there is a sudden change in your circumstances, a human will be able to react to it much more quickly than an algorithm, which needs more time to absorb the change and work out a way to deal with it.

This is also, essentially, the reason why manual bidding is generally the best option for accounts that are still working on raising their traffic and conversion volume to a respectable level. A skilled human is far better at taking “educated guesses” in this situation than an algorithm with limited data. A real person can also make changes that take effect right away, by manually syncing with the PPC platform.

The blended approach

Ideally automated PPC should be treated as a “lower effort” solution rather than a “hands off” solution. In other words, while the algorithm can be left to its own devices most of the time, it’s generally a good idea to have a human keep an eye on it. Where resources permit, this is almost always the best approach for SMEs.