• http://www.swydo.com/ jeroen maljers

    Great article and I agree, but have 2 remarks: 1. there are many businesses out there advertising on Google that do not have a feed nor ever will have one. The lawyers, consultants and other service providers still have to write compelling ads and choose keywords. 2. In the feed/PLA space there’s alway’s room for a countermovement. Maybe there are advertisers that should abandon the long tail and re-start advertising like ” we sell really good shoes” instead of the Nike xyz now for Y$.

  • Sarah

    Just because lots of people are crap at paid doesn’t meant that it’s dead or dying, nor does it mean that people who do paid campaigns should write irrelevant ads. And for the love of all things holy, can we stop playing the “seo/marketing is dead” card every time an opportunity or challenge presents itself? This right here. This surplus of auto-generated drivel is an opportunity to actually do great things for your clients in paid search.

  • http://www.simplyclicks.com/ David Burdon

    Vic,
    I sympathise with your perspective. And love the comparison with toilet paper. However, hotels presents an extreme example. The major hotel consolidators have expert based yield management systems that target the key terms with precision. Keyword automation is just a function of the scale of their operations. At least in the case the brand owner appeared first. (It would be interesting to see the organic/maps results for this search). In many case the brand owners are driven away by the lack of investment.

  • Vero Tabares

    Good point — as a marketer, you would decide which audience to target and which is worth more to you per advertising spend. If you market your service/product based on your true value proposition/differential rather than price, you’ll reach a more in-tune and possibly more profitable client at the expense of volume (in my experience). “Always be testing”

  • Pat Grady

    I wish the automatons would run out of money before they spoil the whole barrel of apples, but they won’t. Meanwhile, picking narrow areas to compete against the machines, is a great opportunity. So let me correct myself, I wish they’d all become automatons.

  • Nate Schrader

    Vic, I definitely feel where you’re coming from. It’s frustrating when you write creative, humanistic ad copy and the incentives ad wins out. But the purpose of search is to be found. The user usually has the intent to buy; they’re beyond the discovery phase, just like the yellow pages. Otherwise the searcher would click an organic content-based listing. So most searchers are looking for the best deal that they can trust, which is at times tough to differentiate yourself from the JoeSchmo.com’s. BUT Sarah’s comment rings true: if the SERP is irrelevant or bland, it’s your opportunity to be that creative marketer you wish for and succeed. Paid search’s purpose isn’t flashy like top-funnel marketing, but those who don’t seize the opportunities you speak of eventually will be the ones killed off in the SERP space by the marketers who do.

  • siliconallstar

    Thanks for the comment Sarah. To be clear, I am not saying search is dead, but I am saying that because so much of paid search specifically is being automated, and thus all being made very vanilla/generic, that the true “marketing” side tends to be lacking more and more. And to your point, this does force true “marketers” to become more creative – although it will likely be in a channel other than paid search.

  • Kohki Yamaguchi

    No matter how much paid search becomes automated, it will never become an operating expense as you suggest, because it is not fixed cost. Intelligent management of paid search campaigns require dynamic budget allocation based on inventory, competition, sales capacity, economic conditions, and a myriad of other factors.

  • Chris Angus

    There will always be people that are better than others and have an “Edge”. PPC is much like stock trading, the people with the edge win. Perhaps your analogy with art is true and we won’t need to write adverts so the creative writing side of things may cease. However, being creative to gain an edge and make more money than the next guy will live for eternety.

  • cmarius

    In the 14 years our company has managed paid search campaigns I don’t think all that much has changed. Paid search ads were always akin to the Yellow Pages.

  • Keith K

    I believe the key to a paid search account in the long run comes from a quote similar to one said in Glen Garry Glen Ross.

    ABT – Always Be Testing.

    I’ve noticed that if you keep your account automated and if your not in the data everyday making changes/testing you might see good results in the short term. However, you will never maximize the potential order/revenue/spend volume in your SEM account.

  • DoNoEvil

    Refreshingly honest article, and whilst there’s always exceptions, I couldn’t agree more. The most frustrating aspect to me is updates motivated by ‘improved exp’ which are superseded by accommodating a poor exp… if it turns a profit. Ask.com (as you pointed out) being a great example, which still baffles me!

  • http://suebrady5.wordpress.com/ Sue Brady

    Interesting article. I disagree though on one point. The increased used of automation in paid search will make marketers stand out more. If, as a marketer, you put strategic thought (ie, apply art and science) into your campaigns, you will do better than any automated system can. I refuse to believe the art of search marketing is dead!!

  • Vic

    I love your passion and there is still a small ember of “paid search is art” left in me somewhere too. I think my issue is everyone automates so much of everything, that everything looks the same at this point. I primarily work in travel and retail and if you search for any major destination or brand, almost all ads look identical at this point. Hopefully, somewhere, people are willing to test more engaging messaging just to keep things interesting.

  • Vic

    Always exceptions! Totally agree. Baffles me that Ask.com is still even a site. Remember when you could buy paid search directly from them and it was a somewhat viable option????

  • Vic

    Agree it might not be as much of a cost of doing business as say your rent, but at this point you have no option but to buy your brand terms, pay whatever Google makes you pay, and you have little say over it (e.g. you can’t go somewhere else and get cheaper CPCs like you possibly could for rent). So agree not a traditional cost of doing business, but in many ways, it is a requirement for you and your website.

  • Vic

    I love this post and I WANT to believe what you are saying. But then again, i am constantly competing with the non-creative Ask.com (et al) of the world that use no creativity, leverage my brand, and make my marketing more expensive every day. Somehow, none of these folks have been killed off yet and in reality, have it easier now due to more lax restrictions on trademark usage, what is deemed relevant content, etc.

  • Vic

    Agree hotels are tough. But try any established brand that sells both direct and wholesale. Tory Burch, Stuart Weitzman, Oscar de la Renta,..the list goes on. I am sure there are areas where this doesn’t exist, but hotels and fashion/retail seem to be overwhelmed with junk listings.

  • Peter Van Zelst

    Excellent article, Vic. A lot of advertisers/agencies have tried to automate the process so much that they’ve missed the point and lost the real value in paid search. Google are helping this as it allows them to grow their revenues, e.g. dynamic search, but the advertiser loses control.

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  • http://www.LeadDiscovery.com/ Jerry Nordstrom

    I understand where your passion on this issue comes from, but I disagree with the premise that the “Art” of PPC is gone.

    The number of inexperienced PPC marketers pushing out poorly thought out campaigns has increased dramatically over the years. This can certainly give off the image that PPC is a generic mass of automated ads. And yes there are big marketers with deep pockets that think they can automate their way to complete success.

    This all ignores the fact that a successful PPC marketer conducts the analysis of their market and develops an all encompassing, intent driven campaign that entices a finely targeted audience. The creativity needed to craft these campaigns to produce a visitor behavior that hits your goals is an art form. Its a fantastic blend of creative vision and technical prowess. Yes, there are thousands of levers to toggle off and on, and this is what has been automated to a large degree. This should not suggest that you can dismiss the art of pulling all these elements together to focus on and achieve your goals. If you take that route then you will be an orchestrator swinging your arms in the trombone section.

  • Jake Shelton

    It is true that Google is offering businesses the option to automate their advertisements but you are wrong in saying that this is killing real marketing. Google is offering this option so that small enterprises can compete in the same space as their competitors, even if they do not have the budgets to hire professional marketers. Sure Google benefits from the increased competition for search terms but their aim is to bring relevant search results to users. As a professional marketer I have seen that the need for marketing has increased, not decreased, due to this automation. The increased ease of advertising on Google has caused us to have to go above and beyond to be better than the competition. No algorithm, regardless of how advanced it is, can give perfect results across every industry or target market, so there will always be the need for “the art” of marketing. The automation of paid search is to benefit small enterprises, it’s not there for the marketers of global brands to take a back seat and let a computer do their job for them.