Does "Set It & Forget It" Still Work In The PPC Game?

Mar 27, 2007 • 8:11 am | comments (5) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Pay Per Click Engines
 

In the old days of the Pay Per Click management days, you used to hear the phrase - "set it and forget it." Meaning, you set up your pay per click campaign in Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing and others. Then you watch it for a couple weeks, make some tweaks and when things are running smoothly, you just walk away and let it run itself.

A WebmasterWorld thread asks if the "set it and forget it" practice still works? With Google AdWords changing their algorithms every 6 months or so. With Yahoo! recently upgrading to a new algorithm in Panama. With adCenter launching with more features to shake a stick at... Does the "set it and forget it" methodology still apply?

It appears not.

Everyone in the thread seems to agree that for the most part, that concept is long gone. You at least have to check in weekly for even the smallest campaigns. I like netmeg's response:

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.

Would love to hear more on this from others.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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Comments:

Rick Whittington

03/27/2007 02:06 pm

"Set it and forget it" is definitely dead. In my opinion, it's not so much that algorithms change, it's that search engine marketing is a popular advertising vehicle, and competitors are always entering your space. Also, I can't fathom running a campaign and not testing ad copy on a continual basis. It's my experience that companies that continually optimize their campaigns get better results than those that don't.

Barry Schwartz

03/27/2007 03:00 pm

You are right, I should of added the competitive landscape aspect. Thanks for noting that.

Jon Kelly

03/27/2007 03:56 pm

I agree with Rick's points and conclusion -- set it and forget it is dead (if it ever made sense). Two other reasons: 1) Google is following Yahoo's lead and increasing the 3rd party distribution of AdWords. I expect that we'll see more of the uneven quality we've seen in Yahoo as a result. 2) For our category (financial services), seasonality is a big issue. Conversion from click to action changes greatly over the year.

Richard Ball

03/27/2007 05:14 pm

Another factor to consider is Google's expanded matching feature. Since all broad matches are actually expanded matches, it's not unusual to see spikes in clicks/impressions. Set it and forget it is definitely no longer possible.

Tech Mentat

03/27/2007 06:38 pm

I agree with Rick - couldn't imagine why you would not use your PPC to constantly test messaging, landing page, etc. Though, I will say that if you play your bids close to KW min CPC then continually making changes to ad creative and landing pages DOES cause a problem as the system has to reevaluate landing page quality and, occasionally, your min CPC will bloat.

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