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Does "set it and forget it" work?

 10:48 pm on Mar 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

I recently paused all my adwords campaigns, because we were barely selling enough using AW to cover the expense of using the system.

I think I may not have set it up well, and that is at least part of the disappointing result.

I've looked into a few managed account services, and while the start up costs seem reasonable, the monthly "maintenance" fees seem exorbitant.

For those of you without time to constantly manage your ads, what do you do?



 4:10 am on Mar 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

You can't just setup adwords account and relax. Google wants their advertisers to work on the account and improve Google's service to their users. So, you have to spend time on your campaign to organize it correctly, have good ads, have a good landing page(a lot of factors).

Google wants their users to be given good and different results when they search, so its better you spend time on your account and Google will surely reward you with low CPC and in turn low cost per conversion. :)


 8:54 am on Mar 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

"Google wants their users to be given good and different results when they search, so its better you spend time on your account and Google will surely reward you with low CPC and in turn low cost per conversion."

Well I think thee may be a lot of people out there who will disagree with you on this one.

Whilst for many Adowrds tends to tick along nicely, there are plently of people who seem to have had compaigns that have been running nicely for years, get totally wiped out with a new algo change. I think it is bad advice to even suggest that you simply set it up and do nothing.

Apart from the fact that Google tweaks its algo's every few months, user demographics change. It is important to monitor and keep on top of your adwords campaigns in order to maximise your return on investment.


 10:54 am on Mar 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

"Google wants their users to be given good and different results when they search, so its better you spend time on your account and Google will surely reward you with low CPC and in turn low cost per conversion."

With this i meant that you have to work on your campaigns to get everything in place and if you follow what Google wants on daily basis, you will be rewarded.

If a campaign is running successfully for years, it means that the campaign is looked after very well and the campaign manager is paying good attention to what Google is doing(its algo). You can't just create a campaign and it runs successfully without you spending time on the account.

And about user demographics and Google's algo, these factors are not in our control, but what we can do is that to spend time and make changes to the campaign to adjust with the external factors.


 2:25 pm on Mar 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well..if you set it and forget it... It Works..

But, it makes sense to review campaigns regulary and try to decrease CPC by taking advantage of the history and performance of the ads.

I normally cut bid prices every 2 moths by 2-5% . May not be big but over time it is a good amount of money.


 4:19 am on Mar 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hmm nice thought...

I dont feel you can optimize your ads anyhow for a longer time period....


 9:16 am on Mar 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

I dont feel you can optimize your ads anyhow for a longer time period.... "

Thats not correct. The online market is continuously changing and you have to change accordingly. Also, you can still work on getting more profit by reducing CPC and increasing CTR, this is possible only if you experiment and there is not definite period for experimentation.


 5:56 pm on Mar 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have one client who has set a rather small (in my opinion, TOO small, considering the breadth of his product line) daily budget for what he wants to spend on AdWords, and he hired me a couple years ago to fix his existing AdWords account and kind of oversee it. I added as many phrases as I felt I could within the strictures of his low budget, and then I turned the Budget Optimizer on most of his campaigns, and just let it run. He absolutely will not raise the budget, so there was a limit to what I could do with it. Once a week I go in to see if anything looks weird, and anything that has gone inactive I might have to move off to a separate campaign (that's not on Budget Optimizer) in order to raise the CPC, but that's about it. It means a lot of his positions are down in the 5-8 range, or even lower - but it probably gets him more overall clicks for the money, and all I can do is hope that when people click on the ads, if they don't buy what they're clicking on, they'll see something else they're interested in. In any case, we do get conversions, and the client seems to be fairly satisfied with it. It's not the way I prefer to do it, but it's what I could do with what was handed me.

That's the closest to auto-pilot that I can get.


 4:06 pm on Mar 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

No, with their crappy Adwords algo it's impossible to just set up and forget.


 4:21 pm on Mar 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

I suppose it could work. If you are for instance a lawyer in kalamazoo handling widgets cases, you can pretty much set up a campaign and leave it alone, occasionally tweaking bids, adding keywords and making sure algo changes don't hit you.
But, for most businesses you are in a constantly changing arena of supply prices, competition, keyword changes, algo changes, product supply and demand issues etc. that requires fairly consistent monitering. Also, nobody can set up the "perfect campaign" off the bat. It is a best guess--then testing and refining are the ways to perfect it.


 4:45 pm on Mar 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

One blog owner I came across claimed his best friend, an engineer at Google, said they were having massive problems with the Adwords system. He pointed out this was not related to the early problems with the QS roll-out but later. According to the engineer you could tell if you had the problem by upping the bids on a few keywords. This in many cases would trigger a round of price hikes if not an avalanche of hikes in some cases.

The only thing I walked away from the blog with was limiting your changes. If the accounts are less than two years old I doubt you will have that many problems. It seems when you accumulate a history is when trouble kicks in.


 5:40 pm on Mar 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have a client with a campaign I set up over 2 years ago, like netmeg's client the budget was pretty low for advertising spend, lower for ongoing maintenance. I set up about 10-12 ad groups, search network only, and turned on Budget Optimizer. It isn't a hugely competitive subject, and ROI is easy to measure.

I suppose I throw an eye over the account every 6-8 weeks, just to make sure nothing untoward is happening but I have not edited ANYTHING in 2 years. The client is completely happy, the quality of traffic from the ads has improved over time and the spend delivers a really excellent ROI.

From his point of view (and mine to be honest, given the results) there seems little point in messing with it when it's working so well.


 5:57 pm on Mar 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have to agreed. You cannot just leave adwords there. One of the first thing to do is to set up the text ads is the continous refinemet of the ads. The best is create a couple of few then compare with one another then you can slowly know type of ad writing that visitors like and adopt to it.


 6:25 pm on Mar 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

You used to be able to "set and forget"

not anymore
after all of the "google slaps" . . .

I am back to organic stuff again - it is challenging and even refreshing :)


 6:48 pm on Mar 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

To some extent you can set it and forget it but often after a fair amount of work. For high volume competitive keywords you almost always want to at least check on them weekly. Almost all businesses are seasonal so seasonality needs to be adjusted for as well.

The thing with the web and search in particular is that is is not like running ads in a newspaper. You can hire someone to manage your bids but the site has to convert the traffic. Just adjusting bids up and down or even testing out copy variations may have small changes in the performance of the camaigns but the huge jumps in performance (assuming you have a decent campaign setup) will only occur when you look at the whole system - keywords, ad text, landing page, price point, incentives to buy now, checkout process, etc... Really good PPC campaigns start with flexible site designs.

I also think that the fundamental way that most advertisers setup their keywords and creative is flawed. Think of PPC as a conversation between your ads and the consumer. When you look at it that way, it doesn't make sense to group some related but somewhat different keywords together and have them all trigger one of a few similar ads that don't really address what the person is looking for. It's like treating search as a contextual advertising program which it is not. The person is telling you exactly what they want and many (most?) advertisers run ads that do not address exactly what the conusmer says they want in the form of a search query.

Get all those things in order and take a different approach to structuring campaigns, keywords, and creative and then you can leave it on autopilot because most people don't do it that way.


 5:59 am on Mar 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

What about set and forget with an advanced bid management system?
These days they seem to be sold on the bid engine doing to smart stuff.
Does anyone have any experience with them?

I'm about to trial Omniture Search Center and essentially they are saying you can optimise on just about any variable you see fit.
Does anyone have any experience with this product or products like it? Keen to hear your take if you have.


 8:03 am on Mar 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

I agree... But you can optimize your keywords... but don't you think that in few months or max 1 year The trend changes...

I Agree that you can reduce cpc but once the CTR goes down the cost per click will be too.....

You cant just set it and forget it.. you have to look into it for better results


 8:46 am on Mar 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

I didn't intend to suggest it would work for everything or everyone. But there are markets that are not subject to trends and where nothing much changes. Sometimes with these markets, set and forget works fine.


 4:32 pm on Mar 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

But in general - most people can't set and forget their PPC campaigns, anymore than they can set and forget their business model.


 7:03 pm on Mar 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

This is the sort of discussion thread that first made me want to post in this forum, long ago.

I'd like a bunch of folks here at AdWords to see it, so I'll probably include the link in this week's AdWords Feedback Report.

Very interesting.



 8:26 pm on Mar 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think a lot of the "set-it-and-forget-it" has to do with the market that you are targeting. Something without a great deal of competition will most likely not need a lot of updating.


 12:39 am on Mar 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think a lot of the "set-it-and-forget-it" has to do with the market that you are targeting. Something without a great deal of competition will most likely not need a lot of updating.

That was the case in my tiny little niche (there are 4 of us, plus an occasional broad-match interloper), until this month. Now I'm checking daily to see which keywords have gone inactive, and which increased-bids-to-reactivate I can lower. I'm hoping that things will get back to normal soon.

I think one thing that threw my campaign off was pausing everything except a seasonal ad that I expected to have a lower CTR but higher conversion. So maybe I *should* have just set it and forgotten about it!


 3:11 am on Mar 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

it's quixotic to chase every little trend. i find that many "trends" are noise. i don't set and forget, but i do analyze a lot and change infrequently. to me, it's not tic-tac-toe, it's chess.


 7:22 am on Mar 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

As Rhinofish says..Set up the campaigns right the first time and then it is only fine tuning that is required.

Ofcourse, with the introduction of the QS, it may no longer be possible to ignore campaigns for long, but if things are running fine, I NEVER tamper with the campaigns too much. It is too risky for me.

As long as I am getting traffic which converts , I am happy.

I may increase or decrease budget allocation to various campaigns to try and maximise ROI, but this is almost the limit of my tinkering.

I am one careful and scared guy.. :-)


 9:36 am on Mar 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

Can you name few markets....

I am honestly interested to know which market actually works... so that I can get one client from that market for sure.



 5:16 pm on Mar 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

yes i had this experience in the past. You just cant create a campaign and relax. You need to constantly monitor the campaign and update it to get best result.

After all you are spending money man.


 5:52 pm on Mar 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

"Set-it-and forget it" has worked for my small business. However...I have found that it's really my free listings on Google that are making me money, not Ad Words. With both Ad Words and free listings my sales are consistent with the exception of a lull just before almost every big holiday.

Due to a death in the family I stopped my Ad Words campaign for one solid month. During this month, my free listing generated just as many sales as when using Ad Words. Now here's the odd thing, exactly one month after I stopped Ad Words, my free listing disappeared. I have been in the # 1-2-3 position for years. Sure it could be coincidental that one month after I stopped Ad Words my free ad drops to page 10, but it's rather suspect as well. This is not an isolated incident either. I've actually tested it in the past with the same results that's why I've continued to use Ad Words---I don't want my free listing to get bumped into the basement---and it hasn't as long as I've used Ad Words.

I don't know what you guys think a healthy budget is but I spend $24,000./yr on Google alone. Without the free listings to bolster my sales, my business will be hurting.
Has anyone else ever experienced this?


 7:34 pm on Mar 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think I may not have set it up well, and that is at least part of the disappointing result.

The trick here is targeting, how well are you targeting? Almost every "new" adWords user I encounter is under the impression that the more words they put in, the more clicks they get - which in a sense is true, but but this actually dilutes your results as you get clicks from people who are not looking for your specific items/products.

Most of my ads contain 3 - 5 words. MAXIMUM. Just more ads.

I think the "set it and forget it" applies if your market doesn't change, not so much the competition. If you sell blue widgets, you go through an initial phase poring over your stats, seeing which ads work, which ads don't, drop the poorly performing ones, then once you've figured out it's as good as it's going to get, you don't really need to change those. What you *do* need to do though, it throw experimental ads in, such as "large blue widgets" or "small blue widgets" to see if those pick up for you.

The biggest problem, I think is objectively determining whether or not the words you are using are truly the best. An example is several commonly typo'ed words can often bring a lot of extra traffic.


 9:35 pm on Apr 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm about to trial Omniture Search Center and essentially they are saying you can optimise on just about any variable you see fit.

They all "work" to some degree in that they adjust bids up and down based on ROI. The Omniture model that ties in analytics to the whole proces instead of just a 30-90 day cookie is the way to go.

Is there a system out there that does anything besides adjust bid prices though?

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