How Much Automation is TOO Much in Google Ads?

It is no secret that the entire world is moving towards a more automated way of life. There are now cars that can parallel park themselves, grocery stores with no cashiers, and apps that can use AI to make Elvis sing Taylor Swift songs. The same shift is happening across the digital marketing world with Google becoming more aggressive in pushing their automated recommendations across their advertising platform. While some strategies, like smart bidding can save an advertiser time, others can create an even larger headache leading to unexplained increases in spend, irrelevant asset creation, and unqualified lead generation.

Auto Applied Recommendations:

Google Ads Automation

Google provides an array of standard recommendations that will be automatically applied to your account if you do not opt out of settings. These settings can drastically impact your account performance, account spend, and efficiency. Below includes several settings that we recommend opting out of.

Add Broad Match Keywords:

Perhaps one of Google’s biggest pushes of 2023 is implementing broad match keywords. This will allow keywords to match out to more variations, leading to higher traffic volume and growth. However, the drawback is that many of the queries will likely be irrelevant to your business and they could dominate the budget. For example, if you are running on the keyword “luxury watches” in broad match, you can likely match out to all kinds of jewelry related iterations even “wedding rings.” It is important when launching new accounts or optimizing existing accounts to be weary of Google’s push for broad match and to ensure you have unselected this setting in the recommendations tab before testing.  If you do consider testing broad match, we recommend considering the following before implementing an A/B test.

  • Ensure that you have the budget available to test this expansion.
  • Expansive negatives to account for broader queries coming through.
    • We also recommend keeping a close eye on search term performance daily.
  • Broad match campaign should use automated bidding to work best.
  • CPA should be efficient to begin with as conversion rates will likely be lower.

Add Responsive Search Ads:

While it is a no brainer that everyone should be fully using Responsive Search Ads, we want to avoid Google creating and launching their own ads based on your performance. Not only will this cause issues with unapproved content running, but it also can generate lower quality recommendations. In the past, Google’s headline and description recommendations have included assets with no CTAs, irrelevant content, and very low character counts. We recommend testing and creating all iterations of ad assets without opting into Google’s auto recommendations. With standard RSAs we recommend pinning at least 3 keyword-specific, similar headlines to position 1, so that Google can still use its algorithms to showcase the ad most likely to generate the highest click-through-rate while ensuring your headline is highly relevant to the search term.

Use Display Expansion:

If you are consistently not meeting your search budget, Google might automatically opt your search campaigns into the display network. This means that Google will create ads based on your search ads to run on placements within the display network. Text ads, lacking imagery, across display often result in spam traffic and unqualified lead volume because the targeting is far broader than search. Therefore, to utilize unused budget across the display network, we recommend creating separate display campaigns, with their own responsive display ads. Also, we recommend applying additional layers of targeting onto the campaigns in terms of audiences, custom segments, and placement targeting.

Optimized Targeting in Display:

Optimized targeting is automatically applied to all display, discovery, and video campaigns. Optimized targeting allows Google to expand your audience beyond your targeted reach. The goal of this setting is to broaden your campaign’s reach to similar users based on your targeting settings. However, this setting can have some negative consequences. For example, if you were running a retargeting campaign across display but were opted into optimized targeting, Google would also show ads to users they deem “similar” but have not previously visited your site before. We have seen these audiences eat up the entirety of budgets in display campaigns with minimal conversion volume. When starting out in display, we highly recommend opting out of this setting if able to generate decent traffic volume.

Google’s best practices are not necessarily the best practice designed for your account’s specific goals. This can be the case when it comes to automation. Our ultimate take on automation is that some strategies can be beneficial like automated bidding, however we strongly recommend opting out of the above auto applied recommendations that will mostly lead to increased spend and poor efficiency. It is important to know your account goals and what options make sense for you. Google is constantly changing their platform and the auto apply settings. We recommended reviewing the settings on a monthly cadence and opting out of any option that does not make sense for your business goals. If you have any questions regarding automation best practices, please contact us by email at to talk through your Google Ads optimizing needs.