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Should You Let Google Ads Apply Recommendations Automatically?

Not long ago, Google announced that in addition to the new Insights page, advertisers would now be able to automatically apply the platform’s customized campaign performance recommendations with the click of a button. This is in an effort to help businesses move faster, save time, and be helpful to their consumers.

But truth be told, my initial post about these expanded recommendations was filled with frustration. You’ll notice I’m so irritated with the changes Google has made that I actually offer money to anyone who can figure out what they’re trying to do. (That offer still stands.)

But as with all jarring experiences, a little time and distance has helped me take a step back and reevaluate how these changes can impact a range of accounts.

So today, I plan to offer (a little) redemption on the auto-applied recommendations front.

As with all offerings in every advertising channel (not just Google), not everything is the right fit for all accounts. But there nearly always IS an account that something is good for.

With that said, I want to give a quick overview of the expanded list of auto-applied recommendations Google has rolled out and then give some direction on how you can make a call on whether they’re right for your account or not.

What’s available for auto-application?

Back in 2018, Google announced it would be using auto-applied ads to help advertisers get more variants added to their accounts, and rolled out a new Opportunities tab right within the interface to give suggestions on how to get more out of your account.

If I’m being totally honest, I believe that the new auto-applied recommendations features stem from frustration that more users aren’t applying the suggestions in the now renamed Recommendations tab. This is just a guess, so who really knows.

Either way, if you’ve paid much attention to your Recommendations tab and you’re now reading this post, you’ll notice that many of the auto-apply options will look familiar.

Here is a screenshot of the different actions Google lets you opt into for this new feature:

list of google ads auto applied recommendations

This is a lot of options, but it’s clear the main areas they’re focusing on are bidding, keywords, and ad copy.

Ok, now that you have the run-through of the options and how we got here, let’s talk pros and cons.

Pros of Google Ads auto-applied recommendations

There are some good reasons for leveraging auto-applied suggestions in your accounts:

  1. Some are “no-brainers:” Despite some preconceived notions, the changes on this list aren’t only in Google’s best interest. They could also be in yours. The first option is to opt your campaigns into data-driven attribution where possible. This, in my mind, is a no-brainer. There’s rarely variance between the attribution models and this will give more credit to your top-of-funnel/mid-funnel campaigns where necessary.
  2. Can work for a hands-off management approach: If you’re not in the accounts all day every day like a full-time manager, some of these changes could help you keep things fresh in your account. Having new keywords, negatives, and ad variants added in could keep things moving and keep your account dynamic if you’re not already doing that yourself.  
  3. Optimization Score: Regardless of your thoughts on Optimization Score, I guarantee you that opting into these auto-applied recommendations will help improve your account score.
pros and cons of google ads auto applied recommendations

Cons of Google Ads auto-applied recommendations

These are likely a little more clear, especially if you read the original post I shared in the intro.

  • These focus on “best practices:” If you’ve run Google Ads for very long, you know that best practices aren’t always best. There are going to be times you don’t want phrase or broad match keywords running in your account. Maybe your lead generation strategy is sophisticated to where setting target CPAs isn’t going to make sense. For most accounts, many of these suggestions simply aren’t a good fit.
  • You have to regularly check the changes: Without monitoring, you can waste a lot of money on things that aren’t a good fit for you. By opting into these automated changes, you’re consenting to be reactionary to their impacts rather than approving things before they go live. 

Related reading: Should You Use the New Google Ads Insights Page? [Pros and Cons]

Best practices for auto-applied recommendations

Since there are both pros and cons to these features, it’s important that each advertiser makes their own determinations about what’s right for them. It’s a bit tough to give blanket advice to a group of people in this situation, so instead, I’ll give high level best practices for how to deal with this new feature:

  1. Review each option individually: Each option has its own set of implications. Just because you want to opt into one bidding automation doesn’t mean that all of them are right for you.
  2. Monitor changes closely at first: As soon as you turn on any feature in your account, be sure to check in very regularly, if not daily, to see what adjustments Google is making on your behalf. Don’t just set it and forget it or else you could log in a month later to realize you’ve been running campaigns that aren’t in your best interest.
  3. Adopt a long-term “trust but verify” approach: After you’ve kept a close eye on the initial changes these automations make, you can back off and give them a little breathing room. But just like all other automation options, that doesn’t mean you should leave them alone forever. Check back in every other day, every other week, or monthly to make sure the changes are still in your best interest. If nothing else, set a calendar reminder to check in every 30 days so you can easily undo any changes you don’t like right from the Change History tab.

Should you use Google Ads auto-applied recommendations?

Just like with all other features, these new auto-applied options from Google Ads are not inherently good or bad. Depending on your account goals and management style, they could be a great fit for you or they could be disastrous. Either way, I encourage you to review the areas of your account you can automate, determine if it’s right for you, then make sure you monitor any changes it makes closely. No automation is perfect, so human interaction is necessary.

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