Google’s Smart Bidding system is one of many automated ad bidding strategies that use machine learning to help optimize ads for conversions. It makes it easier for marketers to increase sales, leads, and profits by deploying the most effective ads at scale.
However, this advanced advertising technology doesn’t negate marketers’ responsibility for crafting rich, engaging ad copy. In fact, Smart Bidding requires even more input from qualified professionals.
“I still feel that there’s a degree of autonomy that requires us to make those choices,” said Ashley Fletcher, VP of marketing at Adthena, in a recent webinar. “AI is at its best when it gives you those choices.”
“The world of search marketing is built around AI,” he added, and marketers need to know how to write ad copy that gives the Smart Bidding system the best options to choose from.
Here are five tips Fletcher says can help marketers create ad copy that converts in a Smart Bidding system.
Use a variety of ad copy options with Smart Bidding
“[Smart bidding] is very much an ecosystem that’s affecting many digital marketers these days,” said Fletcher. “But we have to go on this journey of adoption.”
He describes Smart Bidding adoption as a progression of strategies marketers use to fine-tune their advertising. The stages are as follows:
- Click-based bidding: Using click-based strategies when not tracking conversions.
- Volume bidding: Driving performance goals with Target CPA and Maximize conversions strategies.
- Assigned values: Identifying conversion events and tracking their trajectory.
- Value bidding: Employing Target/ROAS and automated campaigns.
Fletcher says noting the trade-off — and finding a balance — between automated ad copy management and manual ad creation can make this process more seamless: “You don’t have to be all-in on all of these, but make sure you’re seeing both sides of the coin.”
Benchmark ad copy performance alongside competitors
“While it’s best practice to benchmark [against competitors], be wary that embracing Performance Max diminishes any CTR benchmarks you have in each segment,” Fletcher said.
Despite the AI capabilities of Smart Bidding, it’s still important for marketers to keep a close eye on their competitors’ strategies. Yet, as Fletcher noted, it’s difficult to benchmark your ad copy performance while racing to beat the competition in bidding battles. Marketers using Performance Max campaigns must find a way to balance insight gathering efforts (benchmarking) with campaign velocity.
Fletcher used the tortoise and the hare tale as an analogy for balancing benchmarketing with campaign momentum. He highlights how marketers often choose either a high-speed approach (the hare) or a slower, more methodical strategy (the tortoise), noting how the former is less effective in the long run.
“If you’re the hare in this instance, then you’re going to be out of the gate pretty quickly — you’re going to be checking all those boxes pretty quickly,” he said. “But, if you’re the tortoise — asking yourself how this is going to affect your strategy — you’ll want to segment and look for clearer data.”
He added, “If you’re heads-down — [like] the hare — you’ll likely miss nuances in your landscape.”
Choose the proper messaging for each segment
Analyzing which types of messages resonate best with each audience segment is key to succeeding with Smart Bidding. Fletcher used his own brand’s platform as an example of a tool that can consolidate these ad messages and the segments they resonate with.
“If you’re firing DSAs, RSAs — whatever it might be — and you’re not sure which is converting, then this [dashboard] gives you full clarity,” he said.
This is an area where AI and ad messaging work together well. AI bidding dashboards can pull out keywords and phrases that resonate well with audiences, then provide data on how they correlated with ad clicks, impressions, and conversions.
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Evaluate ad copy for local markets
“User behavior is becoming far more localized as people move away from cities, which is a natural change in habits,” Fletcher said. “Google is putting more effort into SMBs — better maps and business listings — and many auctions are happening away from city hubs.”
Local market ad auctions look much different than those in their more populated counterparts. So, marketers need to adjust how their ad copy resonates with these smaller groups. Evaluating local market dashboards (shown below) can show variances based on region and help inform bidding strategies.
“[Local] dashboards can guide whole teams on search marketing strategies — not just the search teams, but the branding to the SEO as well — to see where rankings and click-share can be improved by these terms,” said Fletcher.
Write ad copy with Share of Search in mind
“Search is seen as the ‘holy grail,’ as far as conversions,” said Fletcher. “It’s going drive through clicks to your brand; how people interpret your brand in the SERP is key.”
“Ad copy plays a big part in Share of Search,” he added.
Share of Search is a metric first formulated by Les Binet, head of effectiveness at adam&eveDDB, that measures what percentage of market share a brand maintains in the search results. Fletcher says paying attention to this data can help marketers see what ad copy is resonating best on the SERPs.
“It’s about predicting better outcomes using [search] data as the key data point,” said Fletcher.
Leveraging Share of Search data has the potential to better guide your brand through the Smart Bidding landscape. It can help marketers predict which ad types will resonate with specific audiences, improve channel confidence, and better align stakeholders.
“This will drive synergies across your entire digital business,” Fletcher said. “It’ll force you to understand how and why ad copy is performing well.”