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16 March - 30 April 2020

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30 Mar 10:00 GMT / 06:00 EST

In conversation with Publicis Sapient global CEO, Nigel Vaz

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Beyond smart bidding: how to make all your campaigns 'smart' in 2020

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

For those marketers that have been dabbling in paid search for more than three years, you will remember the explosion of mobile searches surpassing the number of desktop searches.

What you should also reflect back to is the hype and focus Google placed on this phenomenon before, during, and once it had happened. When considering smart bidding and strategies we can see history repeating itself except on an even bigger scale.

Let’s list out some of the signs we can see that tells us as digital marketers “if you’re not testing some form of smart campaigns or bidding you’re simply not ahead of the game”:

  1. Similarly to the growth of mobile usage, there are now a countless number of podcasts, key players and talks at events about pro-automation strategies and why digital marketers should be testing either smart bidding or smart campaigns

  2. Google itself has constructed a training program (Digital Champions) for their Partners to equip a selected few employees to be able to learn like a Google product specialist and deliver training sessions to their colleagues on ‘everything smart bidding’.

  3. When looking at smart vs standard campaign spend we see smart spend is increasing rapidly (particularly in the e-commerce space) and standard spend is remaining stagnant.

  4. The change in what is expected from a marketer or marketing agency. There is a big focus on technology and efficiency when considering how to choose an agency. If you’re in a sales or onboarding team how often in more recent years has the CFO been involved in the process compared to say twosma years ago? Clients are demanding reports on ROI and platforms like Google are encouraging bidding strategies like Target ROAS to respond to the change in the expectation of what the marketing role should deliver.

So what does this mean?

Smart bidding is not going away and it is very likely that eventually all campaigns will eventually be 'smart' or use some form of automation. Let’s consider DSA campaigns. You have no control over the keywords, little control over the entire ad copy and depending on how you set your targeting, little control over the landing page - but they work. It focuses solely on queries rather than keywords and match types, you can read a full DSA article here.

I predict (call me Nostradamus) in the near future campaign set up will consist of smart shopping campaigns, pay for conversion on the Display network, smart search campaigns for localised businesses and more use of DSA campaigns for all types of businesses. So to stay ahead you must start testing, failing quickly, re-testing and perfecting today.

Agencies and account managers might be thinking, what added value will we be bringing to the party if we adopt smart bidding?

Well, we can actually start to be the marketers and strategists we were born to be! Start tackling those lists on the project management board, that are likely to have a much bigger impact to a business than bid adjustments. As clients, you can start to move away from the thought that you employ your agency based on “bid management” and focus on year on year growth or efficiency gains.

As marketers we should spend more time on aspects outside the ecosystems of Google ads, Facebook ads manager and Microsoft ads. Paying attention to; our clients sales processes, better understanding of margins and revenue, personas and how this should lead the breakdown of the campaigns and copies, landing pages and customer touchpoints. The list is endless.

Now, remember I said “near” future. While we should absolutely embrace smart bidding and campaigns, we are (for the moment) far from moving everything to smart campaigns, especially when taking into consideration more mature accounts.

Huh? What? I’m confused

Yes, you should be testing campaigns and strategies such as target CPA, maximise clicks overlapped with DSA targeting, strategically pieced together smart shopping campaigns. However, moving the entire account to such a set up if you have data and good performance is not something we recommend.

Smart campaigns, for example, make it difficult to immediately identify or fix a drop in performance. To caveat this it is essential to have technology like our scripts that can alert account managers of peaks and drops in KPIs

To correctly test smart bidding and campaigns you should also have a fail safe account set up that you can rely on to avoid any drops in performance.

Right now at Push we are adopting and incorporating smart tests in all accounts that come through our strategy development process and have some great wins with various budgets. We look forward to growing this portfolio of case studies and sharing these with you soon.

Get in touch with Push today and one of our friendly digital marketing experts will set you on the path to pastures new and uncharted technological territory for you and your business.

Jasleen Banwaitt, head of strategy, Push Group

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