Automating Google Adwords accounts using APIs is a great way to save time and improve efficiency on large and complex accounts. However in my opinion, the success of paid search campaigns lies in understanding the marketing goals of the organisation, having an understanding of the products offered by the organisation, and having an understanding of the target market. This information acts as a guide when researching highly relevant keywords, creating ‘quality score friendly’ keyword segmentations and generating compelling ad copy that communicates the product offerings clearly and concisely, enticing users to click on an ad. I believe that these tasks are done best through human input as opposed to automated feeds.
Automation is useful if there are over a thousand product offerings and the products offered change dynamically within a twenty four hour period. Large ecommerce websites focusing on a wide range of products (such as Amazon and eBay) have such a large variety of products that it is almost impossible to make changes to their accounts manually. Therefore, XML feeds make perfect business sense in making account level, ad group level and ad level adjustments on a live campaign.
However, businesses that offer less than a thousand products and have a pricing strategy that is fairly fixed throughout the year will benefit more from manual intervention, as there would be greater control over changes made to ad copy and it would also be more customer focused. This alone would be a competitive advantage over advertisers who resort to automated paid search campaigns, as there’d most likely be disparity between the adverts and the users’ search query; this would lead to low levels of click through rates, which then lead to higher costs per click due to low quality scores.
For small to medium sized accounts, bulk changes could quite easily be done using Google Adwords Editor. Taking the extra time and effort into making sure every ad and every ad group is customised for the target user will pay more dividends through greater number of quality leads. This is an area that large ecommerce websites miss out on due to large amounts of automation, where the user’s keyword does not correspond with the ad copy and the related landing page. This would prove to be counterproductive, as leads generated would be of low quality. Furthermore, you could apply rules in order to automate bid management and use conversion optimiser wherever it is applicable. These can easily be implemented without the need for XML feeds.
Although introducing XML feeds would make account management relatively easier, I strongly believe that managing small to medium sized accounts manually will lead to better quality ads, better quality leads and will result in low overall spend – which will hopefully convert into higher return on investment.