The ABC’s of Google Ads Mistakes, Part 3: Automation

google ads mistakes part 3

Google Ads can seem pretty daunting at first. For inexperienced marketers or business owners, it is often quite intimidating.  As Google Ads experts, we’ve been reviewing the most common or “ABCs” of Google Ads mistakes.

In case you missed our last two articles, the ABCs of Google Ads mistakes are:

  • A – Automation
  • B – Broad Keywords
  • C – Conversion Tracking

“C” refers to your conversion tracking. Your conversion setup and tracking are critical and should form the basis for all accounts. To succeed in Google Ads, you must measure your performance.

The “B” stands for broad keywords. Understanding match types and broad keywords is crucial in managing your Google ads account. Improper use of broad keywords can waste your money on useless search terms

Now, this might seem backwards, but we’ve finally arrived at the “A” in Google Ads. The “A” in Google ads stands for “automation,” and this is vitally important.

Understanding and using automation appropriately in Google Ads will save you money and launch your campaigns and account to the next level. Automation, when properly used, is an extremely powerful ally. But if used improperly, can eat away at your marketing budget.

Within Google Ads, automation is used on many different levels. There are automated bidding strategies, automated creatives, automated keyword matching, and even fully automated campaigns.

To use these effectively, one must have a solid foundation of Google Ads and PPC (pay-per-click) marketing knowledge. Although effective, Google’s automated tools will not magically make your business money. Proper use of automation requires the rest of the account to be optimized.

Think of the automated tools as the last piece of the puzzle to help bring your account to the next level. In fact, it’s often best to start with more manual based campaigns and then slowly transition the management to automated.

In this article, we will go over how best to leverage Google’s tools, review the details of all the automated options and finally look at some of the most common mistakes.

Types of Automation in Google Ads

As mentioned, there are many automated options in Google Ads. In this section will will review each type and give a quick summary.

Smart Bidding Strategies or “Automated Bidding”

Bidding refers to the amount you are willing to pay for each click. In search campaigns, this means how much you are willing to pay for each keyword.

A quick example of how bidding on keywords works:

  • Say you are selling dog food and you’ll pay $2 for the term “buy dog food,” then you set your keyword bid at $2
  • When a user types “buy dog food” into Google’s search engine, your ad will show (depending on the bids of other companies)
  • If the user clicks on your ad, you will pay up to, but no more than $2

In a Google Ads campaign, you could have hundreds or sometimes even thousands of different keywords. If you are setting each bid more than every keyword, this is referred to as “manual bidding.”

For a significant amount of time, manual bidding was the only option in Google Ads. And up until recently, this was the preferred method for most account managers. Managers and business owners would set their keywords and adjust appropriately based upon their KPIs.

But as you can imagine, with thousands of keywords, this can become overwhelming.

Smart bidding is based on Google’s machine learning algorithms and will set the bid for each keyword based on your account’s available data. With smart bidding, you no longer need to select the bid for every induvial keyword. Instead, you set goals on the campaign or ad group level, and Google will act accordingly.

There are multiple types of automated bid strategies. The exact dynamic of each bidding strategy is outside the scope of this introductory article.

The automated bid strategies include:

  • Target CPA
  • Target ROAS
  • Maximize Conversions
  • Maximize Conversion Value
  • Maximize Clicks
  • Target Impression Share

Once you set up the bidding strategy, make sure to review performance and continually test the ads. Although you will not be manually setting bids, make sure to adjust the goals appropriately.

Automated Ads

With automated ads, we are referring to those where Google optimizes your ad copy or images without manual input. There are different levels to this, from simply rotating the headlines to fully automated ad copy.

Responsive Search Ads

For this ad type, you input multiple headlines, descriptions, and other ad items. Google will rotate your headlines and descriptions to find the optimal combinations. There isn’t much room for customization, and Google will determine what the best combination is.

The exception to the lack of customization is you can pin certain headlines in positions. An example is running a brand ad and always want your company name to be in the top position.

There are advantages to responsive search ads. If your account has ample data, Google will be able to find the winning combinations. This makes ad testing more straightforward and less time-consuming.

A limitation of responsive search ads is you do not see the data on specific headline or description combinations. Google will find the best combination, but you will never really learn what text works well with your brand.

Dynamic Search Ads

Dynamic search ads are almost entirely automated ads. You simply input your target URLs, and Google will create headlines based on the pages. You will still need to add a description to the ads, but you will be good to go after that.

With Dynamic Search Ads (commonly referred to as DSAs), you will not even be able to see the headlines. And you won’t even be required to put in keywords. Google will simply match you to keywords based on the URLs you use to create the ad.

DSAs can be a great tool in your Google Ads toolbox. When used appropriately, DSAs can be used to find new opportunities or create campaigns that need little maintenance. But alternatively, when not monitored carefully, these can eat away at your marketing budget.

Responsive Display Ads

Just as it sounds, responsive display ads are like responsive search ads but used in the display network. You add multiple images, headlines, and descriptions. Google will then rotate these assets to come up with the best combination.

These ad types are great for businesses or companies that cannot afford to hire a graphic designer to create custom display ads.

Smart or Fully Automated Campaigns

These campaign types have the least manual input. Some might even require little to no maintenance. When creating the campaigns, you will input your goals, and then Google will leverage its machine learning capabilities to optimize.

There are different types of smart campaigns based on the network, and we will go over the types below.

Smart Shopping

Smart shopping requires creating a shopping feed, which is a quick process on many modern websites. I will assume you know how to make a feed or have one already, as the instruction on how to create this is too much for this article.

Once you have the feed, you will simply create a smart shopping campaign and choose what products you want to advertise. Then Google will start to run your product ads.

One limitation of a smart shopping campaigns to keep in mind is instead of selecting bids for each product or group, smart shopping manages all this for you. This can be great if you only have a few products, but with more products this becomes more difficult.

Smart Display

With Smart display ads, you will create a Display ad, pick your locations, bid strategy, and budget.  Then, once these are selected, Google will do the rest. There is no need to worry about placements or bid adjustments. Google will use its machine learning algorithms to find the best website and audiences to place your ads.

Smart Campaigns

For smart campaigns, you create the ads and pick a few target keyword themes. Unlike standard search campaigns, you will not need to create extensive keyword lists or ad groups. Simply make the ad, pick a few keywords, and Google will match you to the relevant searches.

Common Mistakes with Google Ads Automation

The automation in Google Ads is extremely powerful, but not quite at the “set it and forget it” level. Whether you are using automated bids, ads, or campaigns, you must monitor these weekly or even daily to make sure it is reaching your goals.

Beyond daily or weekly monitoring, there are a few common mistakes to look out for.

Automated bidding will override the bid adjustments you make

Google Ads allows you to set bid adjustments on a variety of different items. These include devices, locations, or even demographics. When you switch from manual to automated bid, Google will reset your bid adjustments. For many automated bid strategies, you will be unable to make any bid adjustments; Google will do this for you. One exception to this is Target CPA, where device adjustments will be considered.

Inactive keywords in your campaigns that were bid low

When using manual bidding, you can set bids at the keyword level. But once switched to automated, these keyword bids will be reset and set by Google’s machine learning algorithm. This means that if a keyword has a low bid, it can start to get traffic again. This is particularly common with pure broad keywords that linger in campaigns as these can bring in a high volume of traffic.

Moving to automated bidding or campaigns without enough data

Automation can be incredibly useful. But Google does need a large amount of data to optimize your campaigns properly. This means that starting with smart bidding or smart campaigns for a new account typically does not work as well. Our preferred method is to start new campaigns manually, then transition over to automated bidding. This will give Google enough data on the campaign to make logical adjustments.

Relying too much on automation 

As mentioned earlier in the article, automated campaigns, bidding, or ads, still require maintenance. Many users overlook this and do not monitor performance. You must establish performance baselines for your business and continually type is helping to reach your goals.


At some level, every Google ads account will use a certain level of automation. But how much you rely on this depends on the specific dynamics of your account. With automation, you will sacrifice control of your campaigns. And for many business owners, this is scary. But given the proper amount of data and monitoring your campaigns effectively, automation can be a powerful tool in your Google Ads toolbelt.

As you gain more experience with Google Ads, you will find the proper amount of automation to use in your account. Some marketers are more comfortable with automation than others, but your business’s results are all that matters at the end of the day.

That ends our series on the ABCs of Google Ads mistakes. Hopefully, this will not only save your marketing budget but launch your campaigns to the next level!

Image: Depositphotos

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Lior Krolewicz Lior Krolewicz is the CEO of Yael Consulting, an online marketing consultancy. An ex-Special Ops turned Google Ads expert, he helps eCommerce and lead generation businesses grow profitably. With experience managing budgets of $1 million per month, Lior applies his proven Fortune-500 marketing techniques to small businesses worldwide.

5 Reactions
  1. If you absolutely need bid modifiers to work for things like demographics or location, then Maximize Clicks is your only option that will still respect those. Target CPA will respect device modifiers only. Otherwise, for automated bidding you’re handing over the keys entirely.

    • Hello again, and thanks again, Robert! Automated bidding is quite tricky. I sometimes see advertisers use Target CPA for Brand campaigns, setting it to a much higher CPA than they can get. Google happily gets you the higher CPA, but with Brand campaigns manual bidding will give you the control you need to get the most from your spend.

      Another common error is advertisers setting the campaign to “Maximize Conversions” but they don’t have any conversion tracking – so Google has nothing to really Maximize… so it just spends.

      “Automated bidding” sounds fancy and amazing, but it more often falls short when misused.

  2. Some good info in your article. Thank you, Lior for sharing such helpful content! Regards

  3. It was very informational post. You have covered all major parts of Google Ads Mistakes. Thanks a lottt for that. If you want to read more on Business Technology as well then click on the link.