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Google Ads & Recommendations: Think Before You Implement

Automation is at the core of Google’s vision and planning for the web.

Be that in the evolution of AI as a helpful assistant for search queries or in Google Home’s understanding of your morning routine simply by greeting it ‘good morning’, its presence as an overarching theme is felt everywhere.

Its advertising functionality is not ignored by this trend either. Anyone who has logged into Google Ads over the past few years may have noticed the push towards ‘Recommendations’ - either through the navigation item or in the notifications bell. Clicking either will take you to a page which lists recommendations suggested by Google to improve your account in addition to a percentage ‘optimisation score' it has calculated.

It’s very easy to apply the recommendations Google has listed, you just click the big blue ‘Apply’ button and it’s sorted, and why wouldn’t you apply recommendations the platform has suggested? They must know what they are talking about, right? Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Google - how well do you know me?

The issue is context. Like everything in life, context is key. Google’s ad recommendations may be driven by best practice and may well be effective for a good proportion of the accounts it suggests the recommendation to. However, it might not be right for you.

An example: Google recommends you switch your bidding strategy from ‘maximise clicks’ to ‘maximise conversions’. Great, everyone wants more conversions. Well, yes, but this switch might not necessarily lead to more conversions. What is also advised (but doesn’t seem to play a part in its decision to push this recommendation) is you should have at least 30 conversions recorded in the past 30 days to get the most from the 'maximise conversions' bidding strategy type. Otherwise Google isn’t very clear about what a ‘converting user’ looks like for your particular campaign due to a lack of data and therefore might perform suboptimally by getting your ads in front of the wrong types of users. A human Google Ads strategist might in this instance suggest retaining a ‘maximise clicks’ strategy on a temporary basis until the levels of conversions have been increased enough to make ‘maximise conversions’ a better bidding strategy option.

It is in these differences between what an automated recommendation might suggest versus what a human strategist might suggest which means we would strongly recommend all recommendations are reviewed with a definite amount of thought before implementation.

Manual or auto?

Stronger still is our recommendation that great care is taken with auto apply recommendations. Having recommendations apply automatically is potentially very dangerous to the performance of your account - with instances we’ve seen first hand where clients have used auto apply recommendations and activity has ground to a complete halt in their campaigns because Google has set a Target CPA in their bidding strategy which was highly unrealistic and meant they were ineligible for almost all ad auctions. This occurred without the client being aware this was happening as they had simply set the account to auto apply and left it to run.

Simply put we’re still some way off Google being able to automatically understand the nuances of what your unique marketing plan might be and fundamentally who you are as a business. 

Don’t ignore but do take care

Now we’re definitely not deriding recommendations as a concept. Certainly for business owners who manage their own account it can be very useful in prompting changes you might not have thought of or introducing new Google features you may have been unaware of. 

But approach them maybe a bit more as you would when dealing with a salesman rather than a policeman!

Of course if you do feel you'd benefit from help in sorting the wheat from the chaff when it comes to Google Ads recommendations, we'd be delighted to lend a hand.