SEM World

Why every PPC manager needs to automate more

Recently, the BBC did an article about Amazon turning 25. Frankly, it was appalling.

It asked the question “how has the Amazon empire been built?” – and then completely failed to answer it. It listed a bunch of things: strong revenue, retail sector dominance, Amazon’s value flying high, etc. etc. Yawn.

Let’s actually answer the question, shall we?

Witty fluff about dodging tax aside, Amazon became – and will remain – a powerhouse because they innovate. In 2017 they spent $22.6 billion globally on research and development.

While that figure might be contested, there’s no doubt that Amazon has achieved dominance through spending big to stay ahead of the curve. Alphabet (Google), Intel, Microsoft and Apple were right after them. Noticing a theme?

No robot is going to take my job!

So, innovation is vital, but what’s the greatest enemy of innovation?

The fear of change.

And I am absolutely sick of hearing people complaining about change.

In this industry, the fear of automation follows a familiar but broken line of reasoning: robots are eventually going to take my job. And there’s no way in hell I’ll help them!

This is known as reducing your “value proposition”. People think that the value of the service they provide is under attack from AI. The better it gets, the more redundant they become; the smarter it gets, the less useful they are.

And, I get it. Technology has taken over 90% of the jobs people used to do. This is unpleasant for some –  particularly if you are on the frontline of industries that have experienced rapid change.

Detroit. Auto manufacture. Coal mining in the American Midwest – and, as the son of a coal miner from the British East Midlands, I feel this one keenly across the pond.

But you know what? My father, who left school with very poor grades, upskilled elsewhere. He became a police officer. He went into education. He opened up businesses. He embraced the change and took his opportunities.

Some people don’t get these opportunities and that’s a tragedy. But in marketing, they’re staring us in the face.

It’s about time people started viewing automation like this: an immensely exciting opportunity for those willing to take it. For PPC specifically, it’s a chance to get increasingly clever machines to supplement our work – not replace us.

Because with the right technology stack in place, and the right mindset about how you evaluate and improve your workflow, you can do some truly incredible things.

Fear what you don’t know

Not convinced? Research by PwC suggests that by 2030 the UK’s GDP could grow by 10% from AI alone. That’s an extra $289 billion. Globally, it’s closer to 13%.

But AI is already a big deal. 35% of Amazon’s revenue is generated by its AI recommendation engine.

Despite this, the vast majority are completely unprepared to capitalize on this opportunity.

A report from Headspring sets this out in worrying detail:

  • On average, the more senior a person is in an organization, the less familiar they are with AI. In the report, German CEOs were the worst offenders.
  • People see both themselves and their companies as unprepared to adopt AI. This was most pronounced in the UK.
  • Over half of those contacted either didn’t know or disagreed that AI would help them perform more efficiently.

But let’s think about this for a second, shall we?

The likelihood of a human being more efficient than a correctly programmed AI is close to nil.

See, with the right technology in place – and assuming we use it correctly – then important but time-consuming number-crunching becomes a thing of the past.

AI is more accurate. It’s more efficient.

Utilize it and suddenly you get more time to do stuff that actually requires a human being. High-level thinking tasks like acquiring new clients, onboarding them, upskilling in other areas and producing ludicrously good copy for ads.

Fix up, look sharp

The Headspring study is Euro-focused, but Americans don’t get off easily either. You’re just as bad as us: 70% of Americans expressed weariness or concern about a world where machines perform many of the tasks done by humans, according to Pew Research.

I say all this with love, and with genuine concern.

Because the victories of the impending future, which is coming whether we like it or not, will be had by those who embrace AI.

If you aren’t constantly on the lookout for software and technology platforms that can replace some of the work you’re doing, there is something gravely wrong. If you aren’t always looking for ways you can shave time off your task list by finding machines that can do things quicker, there’s a problem.

If you don’t seize these opportunities first, someone else will.

Assembling your stack

It’s easier than ever to build a technology stack. Big names in the blogosphere are very quick to post long lists of software and platforms for you to try. Here’s one from Neil Patel on marketing automation tools; here’s another from Hubspot (with their own software front and center, naturally). Offers, free trials, no long term contracts abound.

Quite frankly, there’s a dizzying array of platforms and software available to PPC managers. Now, I work for Adzooma, so of course, I’ll tell you they’re the best.

But this will illustrate a crucial point.

It’s your choice

Don’t trust anyone who tells you how to set up your technology stack. Any sensible “software as a service” will demo their features. For example, at Adzooma you can try the platform free. And you should be trying things out as often as possible.

While establishing a routine that works for you is great, there’s a great danger in sticking with what you know. Being comfortable. Following your toolset slavishly.

For those that don’t know: people who stick around with their banks and insurance companies get bad deals. By the same token, people who stay in the job and don’t switch firms every 2-3 years get paid worse.

We hate change; we fear it. But looking for change that benefits us works elsewhere, and it works with technology too.

Loyalty is meaningless. Always look for what works best for you. Try automation software. Whether it sucks or seems fantastic, check out their competition, too, and make your own decisions.

Marketing moves explosively fast and automation is moving even faster. Keep looking; never be satisfied. Make some time each month or quarter to review what you’re getting from your stack and if there are other opportunities knocking.

Hidden winners

With this mindset, you can suddenly become a lot more brutal about what you want from your stack. There are lots of tech startups vying for your attention in the PPC automation sector. There are subtle (and not so subtle) differences in their benefits, features and pricing.

I converted the best PPC manager I know to Adzooma because of its nifty automation tool. He liked the simple but powerful rule creator. He’s dabbled with the other features but, stubborn as a mule, he still uses his old faithful platform for little bits – and is still known for cracking out some horrifyingly complex JavaScript he swears he wrote himself.

It’s the right workflow for him. It could probably be more efficient, but he made a change for the better. The point is: try everything and see what works for you.

Another crucial thing to remember is that any sensible firm will be constantly developing their tool. At Adzooma, we created user communities where feedback is acted on rapidly. This means you have an opportunity to push for features you aren’t able to find elsewhere, or that you’re using in another tool and would prefer to have in one place.

I’ll put it plainly: I wouldn’t trust any software or platform that hasn’t created some kind of feedback portal. Automation moves so quickly that this lack of user focus is glaring and suggests trouble down the line.

Unending faith in human beings

Here’s some good news: most company bigshots trust human beings, not machines, to make the big decisions. Despite rampant fearmongering, that’s not going to change for decades.

And that’s great. Because that means that we can use automation software to supplement what we do.

There’s technology out there like Adzooma to make your workflow more efficient. We do it with reporting, one-click optimizations, and automation tools. The time you save with the platform can be used to stay smart, stay strategic and always think big picture.

But, remember, you’re always going to be in control of the key decisions. Do not fear change; capitalize on it.

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