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How To Use Automation with Microsoft Ads

June 1, 2020
Will Haswell
written by Will Haswell
Digital Acquisition

Learn how to use automation with all features of Microsoft Ads including automated rules and bids, ad extensions, and scripts.

How many times have you heard about automation in online advertising? You might have asked yourself what exactly is being automated or wondered what the benefit is to you as an advertiser. If you’ve started an account, you might have questioned the effectiveness of Microsoft Advertising and where automation fits in with your strategy.

In this guide, I will be detailing how to use to automate all kinds of tasks with Microsoft Ads because toiling through campaign management wastes time you could be spending on client acquisition or building your business. Automation does the long, boring stuff so you can focus your skills where it matters the most.

Microsoft Advertising automated rules

Let’s start with the basics. Microsoft Advertising automated rules speed up the process of managing your ad campaigns by only acting at certain times and/or in certain situations. For example, you can use automated rules and bids to automate keyword bid changes, or start and stop a campaign at specific times. You can also use an automated rule to set up notifications by email to let you know when certain criteria have been met.

How is this helpful? If you need a campaign to stop at midnight, you need the power of automation to help you. Nobody is going to set an alarm to wake up in the middle of the night to stop a campaign when it can be done automatically.

When should you use automated bidding?

Not two campaigns are ever the same and that means not using every feature for every occasion. So when should you use automated bidding? Here are some instances where automation is appropriate:

  1. If manual bidding has proved unsuccessful in previous campaigns
  2. If you’re looking to experiment with your campaigns
  3. As part of a split test
  4. To maximise your clicks and conversions
  5. If you don’t have the time and resources to manage the bids yourself
  6. If you have the time to allow your automated bidding strategy to run and build up enough data to bid optimally

We would suggest not using automated bidding as your sole strategy if you’ve heard they guarantee better performance. That isn’t the case as increased performance is never guaranteed in PPC!

How to create an automated rule

  1. Go into one of the following tabs: Campaigns, Ad Groups, Ads or Keywords
  2. Click Automate which will display all the rules you can set
  3. Select from the following options:
    • Change budget when…
    • Pause campaign when…
    • Enable campaigns when…
    • Notify me when…
    • Create rule for ad groups
    • Create rule for keywords
    • Create rule for ads
    • Manage rules
  4. Once you’ve set your automated rule, click Save.
How to create an automated rule

Automated bids

As your keyword lists grow, so do your options for targeting (and retargeting). That means bid management becomes more important and more difficult to maintain. Using Microsoft’s automated bid strategies, you can make this work a lot easier which saves time and money.

How is this helpful? Automated bids can also improve your ad performance. Having control of your budget means you can put it towards even better ads and maximise your profit. You can choose how you want to focus your automatic bidding strategy.

Here are a couple of tangible examples of what automated bidding can do for your campaigns:

Improve conversions

Want to maximise your conversions? Then target users with informative data from your campaigns. Microsoft Advertising can use that data and automatically set your bids in real-time to get as many conversions as possible within your budget.

Reach your target cost per acquisition (CPA)

Microsoft Ads can also work with your cost per acquisition so it stays is in line with your target.

To reap the benefits of using automation on bid strategies, you’ll need an appropriate timeline of 4-6 weeks. This will give the platform time to get used to your campaign. Find out about more ways that Microsoft Ads can expand your impact and boost your sales.

Automated bidding strategies

Microsoft Ads offers automated bidding strategies in the same way as Google Ads, where you can manage your bids automatically and remain within your budget.

The following strategies are available:

  • Enhanced CPC – the default bid strategy when you create a new campaign. Set your bids at ad group and keyword level, and Microsoft Ads adjusts your bids in real-time to boost your chances for a conversion.
  • Maximize Clicks – similar to ECPC except you don’t have to set your ad group/keyword bids as Microsoft Ads will set your bids to get as many clicks as possible.
  • Maximize Conversions – much like ECPC and Maximize Clicks, you don’t have to set your ad group/keyword bids as Microsoft Ads will set your bids to get as many conversions as possible.
  • Target CPA – Set your budget and your target 30-day average CPA, and Microsoft Ads sets your bids to help you reach that average.
  • Target ROAS – Set your budget and your target 30-day average ROAS, and Microsoft Ads sets your bids to help you reach that average. (Note: Target ROAS isn’t available to everyone so keep an eye out if you can’t use it yet!)
  • Manual – As the name suggests, you set all your bids manually
Bidding strategyAutomated bid settingThird-party tool availabilityConversion trackingSupported campaign types
Enhanced CPCNo, you set your bids yourselfYesNot requiredSearch, dynamic search ad, and shopping
Maximize ClicksYesNoNot requiredSearch, dynamic search ad, and shopping
Maximize ConversionsYesNoRequiredSearch and dynamic search ad
Target CPAYesNoRequiredSearch and dynamic search ad
Target ROASYesNoRequiredSearch, dynamic search ad, and shopping
ManualNo, you set your bids yourselfYesNot requiredSearch, dynamic search ad, and shopping

Automated Extensions

When you publish an ad, you want it to be seen and the more space you can over on a SERP, the better. That’s why ad extensions are so important and with Automated Extensions (formerly known as annotations), you can increase the visibility and performance of your ads.

We’ve written about ad extensions for Google Ads and their benefits and they work in much the same way for Microsoft Ads. They display additional information about your business, which is both helpful to the user and more SERP real estate to click on. For Automated Extensions, they are added automatically to your ads based on Microsoft Advertising’s AI and whether they think an extension would improve performance.

Note: while using Automated Extensions can save time and potentially improve ad performance, there will be cases where you want to use them and they aren’t recommended. Use your best judgement based on your own PPC data.

Automated Extensions use the following sources to populate:

  • Ad landing pages
  • Ad copy
  • Reviews (available from third-party providers).

Automated Extensions types

Here are a few different types of Automated Extensions:

  • Dynamic structured snippets – these give a short description of your business with things like a list of your products or services.
  • Dynamic sitelinks – Officially named Dynamic ESL Description Extensions, they automatically turn your Sitelink Extensions into enhanced Sitelink Extensions, with descriptive text under each sitelink. This adds context and can improve CTR when written well.
  • Brand Information Extensions – these help with brand awareness and attract more clicks due to the perception of reliability. These extensions are part of a group known as Dynamic Partner Data Enhancement.

Note: While Automated Extensions are available to all advertisers, they aren’t guaranteed to show up. Ads with “greater expected impact from ad extensions” will get a higher ad position if two opposing ads have the same bid and quality.

How is this helpful? The AI finds patterns, makes predictions, and learns how to target the right audience. Automated Extensions are therefore much more personalised, and effective. This also saves you time from doing all the guesswork yourself, automated extensions work for you as a marketing tool.

Automation scripts

Automation scripts allow you to make hundreds or thousands of changes across your ad campaign at once. You can use automation advertising scripts to perform tasks including:

Scripts are a little more complicated to create than automated rules, but they work in a similar way. They are essentially lines of JavaScript code you create to add, delete, or change things in your account based on criteria you set.

How is this helpful? Automated Scripts can cover many scenarios in campaign management as described above and are also compatible with Google Ads. If it seems a little bit complicated at first don’t worry, learn more about them by reading the official documentation.

Summary

With Microsoft Advertising automation, you can improve the efficacy of your PPC strategy. Making adjustments are no longer a chore with automated scripts, and Automated Extensions offer ways to boost CTR and conversions using Microsoft Ad’s powerful AI which learns from your history and can make predictions to improve your performance.

With this technology, you can manage your campaign more competitively. Automation not only saves you time but improves the overall performance of your ad campaign.

Connect your Microsoft Ads account with Adzooma today and see just how much time and money you could save.

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Author
Will Haswell

With 10 years’ experience in paid search, Will is Adzooma's Head of Digitial Acquisition and has worked across multiple industries for brands including Dixons Carphone, Argos and Shop Direct Group. Having delivered both agency and client-side, his focus is on how automation and AI can enhance paid search performance.
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