Originally published on July 18, 2019, updated January 17, 2020
In this guest post, Andrew Maff of Seller's Choice discusses the pros and cons associated with automated eCommerce ad campaigns.
By 2022, an estimated 80% of the advertising process will be automated. eCommerce advertising is big business, and while advertising spend continues to grow, a shift toward automation should not be overlooked. As an eCommerce seller, automated ad tools are a potentially effective method of optimizing campaigns, collecting customer analytics, scaling successful campaigns and more. While automated advertising is still relatively new, tools can allow you to automate many different parts of your advertising strategy, freeing up valuable time and resources for higher ROI activities.
Of course, there is a time and place for ad automation, and if executed poorly, it can be detrimental to your sales strategy and prove utterly ineffective. Many high volume eCommerce sellers choose not to use automated ad tools simply because they don’t know when (and when not) to automate. It’s important to understand both why sellers don’t automate, and best practices for those who do employ automated ad strategies.
For your benefit, we’ve compiled some of the top reasons high-volume eCommerce sellers shy away from using automated ad tools and how to navigate those challenges. We’ve also included a list of automated ad strategies eCommerce sellers can use to run more profitable online businesses. So, let’s dive in!
Personalization in advertising is becoming more important as consumers demand customized, unique journeys. In fact, 94% of businesses stated that personalization is critical to current and future success. At first glance, automated ad strategies can give an impersonal impression due to their generic and mechanical nature. As a result, some eCommerce sellers avoid automated ads and ad tools altogether.
Although an automated advertising process seems to be the way of the future, it’s predicted that by 2022, a significant portion of the advertising process will be focused on brand value and storytelling. These marketing components require a humanized, personal touch. Within email marketing campaigns, for example, putting extra emphasis on humanizing the ad design and targeting the correct audience before using automated ad tools is one way to strike the balance.
While difficult, integrating efficient automation tools into your ad strategy while staying true to personalization of the customer’s journey is sure to pay dividends going forward; balancing the efficiency of automation with human-centric personalization is key.
Attempting to scale an under-performing ad campaign via automation isn’t a viable strategy. Using ad automation tools on a campaign that may have other issues altogether (copy, creative, etc.) is a frustrating approach that won’t offer significant conversions or helpful data collection. Many eCommerce sellers stop short of using automated ad tools simply because they don’t have existing marketing campaigns with successful enough track records.
This is a good choice, as automation probably won’t help a seller with no successful advertising track record. Sellers are better off first ensuring that all other ad components (copy, creative, target audience, campaign timing, possible marketing trends, etc.) are optimized and proven via conversions. Automation can best help scale these proven campaigns and generate positive results once other ad variables are taken care of.
In some cases, high volume eCommerce sellers avoid automation tools for one simple reason: automated ad tools can’t replace human intuition and applied knowledge. Some advertising questions and problems just aren’t inherently addressable via rules-based automation, and can even hurt your marketing strategy by accident. High volume eCommerce sellers are wary of this and sometimes opt out of automated ad tools altogether to avoid mishaps.
For example, some algorithms increase keyword bid prices and aim to generate a particular number of clicks. If keywords reach the click target without converting, a simple rule-based automation tool can mistakenly deem the keyword a “negative keyword”, all due to what is potentially a random anomaly or a “slow week.”
Human experience and judgment can’t be replaced by automation tools (yet) and some eCommerce sellers decide to opt out of related ad tools entirely as a result. Automated ad tools should be closely monitored in this regard to be sure the algorithm isn’t working against ad strategy goals all because of a simple rule mishap.
Amazon PPC campaigns require you to monitor keywords to track what’s working and what should be changed, based on consumer data. From this point, sellers are typically left to manually optimize CPC bids and aim for profitable Amazon ads. Automated keyword bids can streamline this process of PPC management and help eCommerce sellers earn more advertising revenue and save more time.
A high volume Amazon seller’s goal is to track the majority of automation needs for all ad groups via keyword bid rules. You have basically three rules that will serve this purpose:
Basically, your set rules define bid parameters, and you let the algorithm do the work. Simple! A more detailed guide on how to set these rules can be found here, and a great PPC management tool can be found here.
Facebook automated rules help eCommerce sellers optimize Facebook ads based on chosen metrics. Automated rules can be used to monitor campaign performance, ad sets, ads and automatically carry out a pre-determined action. Ad automation tools are available for Facebook ads as well, but you’ll probably want to first build successful and proven ad campaigns before diving into the realm of tools.
With automated Facebook ads, an eCommerce seller’s goals are to save time, manage costs and scale best-performing ads effectively via three-part automated rules:
Essentially, a Facebook advertiser can automate ad performance improvement using this feature by setting predefined parameters and success metrics; if X condition occurs, take Y action on Z asset.
If used correctly, Facebook automated rules can help eCommerce sellers scale successful Facebook ad campaigns with reduced time and costs. Automation can cover tedious manual work, but is still no substitute for human touch and personalization when developing the ads themselves.
More details on how to automate Facebook campaigns can be found here.
Google’s Ad Strength tool could be a game-changer as machine learning techniques begin to be implemented in automated advertising and sellers benefit via greater insight on the inbound effectiveness of their strategies.
The new indicator weighs relevance, quantity and diversity of ad copy before providing advertisers with an ad effectiveness measurement before the campaign goes live. Sellers can preview ad combinations as they’re being created, enabling new stats reporting on top combinations, descriptions and headlines.
High volume eCommerce sellers should note these developments and begin exploring potential applications of Ad Strength before their competition does. While Google Ad Strength automation tools have yet to emerge, the automated advertising landscape will continue to evolve and preparing for the future is never a bad idea.
Originally published on July 18, 2019, updated January 17, 2020
This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.