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Using automation to free your creativity

Adult male inside using Microsoft Modern USB Headset and Surface Pro

“No one hired you to be a button pusher.”

It’s a simple but wonderful expression of what modern marketers face. Marketing roles are constantly adapting, but one thing that is clear is that the role of a search engine marketing professional no longer resides in manual optimisation of keywords, bids and budgets. The button pushing days are gone. Humans are not built to enjoy repetitive tasks; they get bored and seek other stimulation. Algorithms on the other hand relish repetitive tasks and can process them faster and more effectively than humans can.

Microsoft Advertising recently spoke with Dan Lezcano, Head of Paid Search at Infoserve, on the importance of automation for his business. Infoserve thrives on the scalability that automation affords and embraces it as a good thing.
We rely on technology to automate what we can. These days there’s no human brain that can beat an algorithm!

Dan Lezcano, Infoserve

Take Responsive Search Ads (RSA) as an example. The key benefit of this product is that the marketer can put up to 15 different headlines and 4 different descriptions into a campaign. The Microsoft artificial intelligence will then test 40,000 possible ad permutations to see which ones work best with your target audience. No human has the capacity to test that many ad combinations, but with RSA it’s something anyone can do. It’s a product that worked incredibly well for British Gas who saw a 44% higher click-through-rate for RSA than standard search campaigns. Importantly, RSA was also an incredible time saver for the agency team at Mediacom who were optimising British Gas campaigns. They saved over 2 hours a week from manual optimisation which could be reinvested into more meaningful digital strategies.

In fact, saving time consistently comes up as one of the biggest reasons to implement automated solutions. Claudia Ziegenbein, Mediacom’s Head of Search said:  
Search teams are generally time-poor, so anything that we can automate to not only make our lives easier but that improves our campaigns’ performance is a win for us.

Picking up on a similar theme, PPC Team Manager at Mabo, Phoebe Holford spoke about the benefits of smart shopping to build campaigns quickly and easily. Smart shopping requires less time to implement than standard shopping campaigns. “Typically, we would separate campaigns by product which can be a lot of effort to roll out, but we know that best practices for the smart algorithms is to make things less granular, so we opted to put the entire inventory into a single ad group. We were up and running in minutes and let the machine learning do its business.”

One of the best practices of automated bid strategies is to give the algorithms time to learn. As Ambre Savidan, Digital Acquisition Manager at Lesfurets explained: 
The key factor here is patience. You cannot make radical changes if the machine learning period is not over. But the results are worth the wait.

Lesfurets implemented target CPA and eCPC and saw a massive 187% increase in clicks and 182% increase in conversions year-on-year because of these products.

What’s interesting is that according to a recent article in Harvard Business Review, just 12.6% of companies are conducting randomised control trials, or simple A/B testing with ad experimentation. “In our sample, an advertiser that ran 15 experiments (versus none) in a given year sees about a 30% higher ad performance that year.” So, ad experiments are clearly impactful but are also critically underused. The article cites several reasons for this including organisational inertia, holdout aversion, requirement of inter-company alignment and entrenched legacy decision support tools. What this means is that most companies (the other 87.4%) are not making time to experiment and try new things. Automated solutions like dynamic search ads, responsive search ads and bidding strategies like max conversions or target CPA give you time back to be able to test new products.

This is exactly what Laura Kunisch, Paid Media Consultant at morefire GmbH did. Having seen the benefit of using automated solutions like max conversions and target CPA, she gained the opportunity to test products unique to Microsoft Advertising. “There are so many product differentiators for Microsoft Advertising now that it’s really worth spending the time to optimise specifically to the platform. We’ve tried LinkedIn Profile targeting, niche in-market audience segments, image extensions and the native inventory of the audience network. These are all things we can’t get on competitor platforms but really work for the client. It’s the perfect example of what you can achieve if you invest a little effort into Microsoft Advertising and don’t just import your campaigns and forget about them.”

Time is our most precious currency, there are now tools available to make better use of your time. “No one hired you to be a button pusher,” so let automated solutions handle that. Follow the lead of the above clients mentioned in this blog, and free your time to do something creative and impactful. For more great customer stories, see our insights page.