Earlier this month, Google announced a beta test of a real game-changer for AdWords. It’s called AdWords Rules, and it allows you to automate certain AdWords tasks when specified criteria are met. In case you haven’t heard of it already, here’s an intro video courtesy of Google:
This is a pretty big deal, since a lot of vendors have been selling tools that do exactly this kind of thing. Why pay hundreds (or thousands) of dollars a month for a software service for bid management when you can just create an AdWords rule in a couple of minutes for free? Rules can be set for budgets, campaigns, ad groups, ads, and keywords, so there is a lot of potential for PPC managers to get creative and save a lot of work. And frankly, I think most AdWords customers are going to be better served by using this offering instead of an expensive software tool.
So what does this mean for third-party vendors in the PPC space? For one, it’s going to be a harder sell to get folks to pay for their products. But, I don’t think we’ll be seeing guys like Omniture, Marin, and Acquisio going bankrupt just yet. Just look at the web analytics space. Google has a pretty amazing free offering, but there are still a lot of companies who are making huge profits by selling an alternative. PPC software companies just need to innovate to stay ahead of Google, and beat them at their own game. It’s not good enough to just sell your software as a bid management tool any more – I can set up an AdWords rule in about five minutes that can do that job. Instead, companies will need to focus on aspects that Google can’t touch yet – things like revenue integration, split-testing of individual campaign elements, better stats reporting, and the like. Google comes up with a lot of tools for AdWords, but they’re really only good at one thing – helping people spend more money on AdWords. Despite Google’s constant encouragement to do exactly this, it’s not always the right answer for PPC. Sometimes you do need a third party to tell you where NOT to spend your money in Google. Big G would never tell you this themselves.
Ranting aside, I think this is a great new development for everyone who has ever been saddled with mundane tasks in PPC account maintenance. I used to spend a few hours a month adjusting bids. Now I can set up a couple of rules and never have to do that again. Even better, I don’t have to convince my boss or my clients to pay for a new PPC tool. It’s right there in AdWords. It’s not in every account yet, but if you don’t have it at the moment you should get it in a couple of weeks. I’ve already seen it pop up in my accounts, and I’m definitely going to be using it a lot in the coming year.