We audited Google Ad recommendations: What we learned will surprise you

My Post - 2019-09-06T153810.062The analysis revealed adding sitelinks to ads and replacing trademark terms can help but optimization scores of ad copy might not. In the end, a human-led strategy is still critical for success.

Google rolled out its “Recommendations” page, formerly known as “Opportunities,” in 2018. The page features an optimization score, which measures how well your Google Ads account is set up to perform. The higher the score, the fewer the recommendations Google has to offer.

It may seem appealing to implement recommendations from Google, given the search giant’s huge swath of search behavior data. But often, these recommendations don’t take into account retailers’ unique business goals. In some cases, the advice could increase costs or disrupt a sophisticated strategy.

My fellow analysts and I audited several recommendations appearing in various retailers’ accounts. Some recommendations, particularly those that point out missing ad components or suggest new keywords, were helpful. Other recommendations that change budgets or promote Google’s automated bidding solutions like target ROAS, can cause serious complications.

Be cautious when applying these recommendations. With a single click, you can significantly disrupt performance and lose ground in a highly competitive channel.

Worse, some recommendations are applied automatically. If you see “Auto Apply” on an ad recommendation, Google will apply the change within 14 days if it isn’t rejected. That means a campaign can shift without your explicit consent, and those changes may not always drive positive performance.

Following are a few Google Ad recommendations we uncovered as well as our assessment of their effectiveness.

Automated bidding recommendations

Google frequently suggests applying a smart bidding solution, like target ROAS, target CPA and maximize conversions. While automated bidding can save time and energy if you don’t have enough bandwidth or expertise to manage campaigns, it limits your ability to set granular bids and learn from bid adjustments. Google provides little transparency into how it sets bids when a smart bidding tool is applied. – Read more

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