Advertising technologies that replace manual tasks with automation have dramatically increased the efficiency of digital marketers. These technologies can be used for simple tasks like managing bids and budget, or in the case of smart campaigns, leveraging the platform to manage targeting, bids, budget, and even creative.
Automation enabled Digital Marketers to shift from having to closely monitor bids, budgets, audiences, keywords, etc. to having the time to focus more on strategy, content, and landing page experiences.
Sounds great. No question these are powerful tools that give a competitive edge to those who know how to use them. But what are the dangers?
The Risks of Automation
Automation can result in complacency, a misplaced trust in the platform, and a missed opportunity for learning about your customer.
One example of this is Google Smart Shopping campaigns where critical data, like the search queries used to trigger your ads, is hidden from the advertiser. Businesses not only lose control of how, when, and where their products are shown, they also are deprived of the data that can be used to drive improvement. This can lead to their growth engine becoming a black box, where Google holds the keys.
An alternative to Smart Shopping is to use similar technologies like Target ROAS and Target CPA bidding. These semi-automated strategies provide a blend where businesses can still leverage the power of Google’s machine learning engine, but also keep a hand on the wheel and still get the insights needed for improvement.
Another example highlighting the dangers of automation exists on Facebook. The new rage among growth agencies is to go with the broadest audiences available, and let Facebook do all the heavy lifting with machine learning. Automation is used to test and optimize different creative assets based on what is likely to generate revenue. We have seen this work exceptionally well for brands that already have a deep understanding of their customers and excellent creative assets that speak to them. Where this strategy falls short is when it comes to learning about customers, how to best communicate with them, and how to best navigate their buying journey.
A broad audience automated approach like this can lead to:
1) The illusion of highly profitable campaigns without actually driving incremental growth.
2) Bottom of the funnel, purchase or sale focused content, overtaking the majority of the ad budget.
3) Neglecting top to mid funnel brand building and awareness content.
4) Over-saturating remarketing audiences.
At Quiet Owl, we believe in using the power of machine learning tools, but not at the expense of losing insight into the customer journey. We strive to balance the power of automation with careful oversight.