An Intro to Google Ads Auto-Applied Recommendations

12 July, 2021

In April 2021, Google announced the rollout of Auto-Applied Recommendations (AARs), a new feature of Google Ads. 

But what exactly are AARs and how will they influence your campaigns? We’ve taken a look into Google’s announcement and provided some insight…

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What are Auto-Applied Recommendations?

Google defined the AARs within an article named ‘Searching for the way forward’, the article states:

"We’ve been looking at ways for businesses to move faster — by quickly taking action based on recommendations from our real-time insights, powered by machine learning. To achieve this, we’re taking automation one step further, giving marketers an option to "opt-in" to automatically apply certain campaign and performance recommendations. This means that every time our algorithms detect an opportunity to improve a campaign, brands can implement these recommendations instantly, enabling them to be fast and helpful for their consumers and save time. 

The Netherlands-based agency Dept has been automatically applying recommendations across its client portfolio, and it’s worked — the agency has saved 20% of the time it previously spent on repetitive tasks, while increasing Google ads optimization scores by 18 points on average. Dept has also seen a positive impact on their clients’ performance — construction company BAM saw a 10% increase in conversion volume and a 20% increase in conversion rate."

A series of Google Ads Help articles were also published for Auto-Applied Recommendations, including an introduction article and an article outlining the different recommendations available.

What do Auto-Applied Recommendations do?

On paper, AARs are a time-saving feature designed to boost your account’s Optimisation Score and ensure your account is implementing Google’s Best Practices. There are 17 listed types of recommendations that are applicable. These range from adding Responsive Search Ads and Dynamic Search Ads, removing or introducing keywords, and even changing your bid strategy to a “more efficient” one.

How do I enable Auto-Applied Recommendations?

As the account manager, you get to choose which recommendation types you want auto-applied by “opting-in” via the Recommendations tab. Once on the Recommendations screen, click on the Auto-apply icon in the top right of the window.

Google Ads - Recommendation tab

Once loaded, you’ll be able to tick the individual recommendations you want to be automated or even select all, before clicking save.

The Pros

Google has already got feature reviews from partnered agencies and businesses boasting that Auto-Applied Recommendations has saved them “20% of the time it previously spent on repetitive tasks, while increasing Google ads optimization scores by 18 points on average.”

In addition, they have case studies of conversions increasing and improvements in conversion rates. These testimonials make AARs sound like a no-brainer. Save time and save money… what’s the catch?

The Cons

At Evoluted, we recommend caution when automating recommendations as it can produce unexpected or unwanted results. While it can make your Optimisation Score go up overnight, you could be unknowingly allowing changes to the account.

Within the PPC community, there is general distaste towards the Recommendations and Optimisation Score, with many accusing Google as using it to extort more money from business owners, while others simply question the reasoning behind some recommendations.

From a reporting perspective alone, Auto-Applied Recommendations will make it harder for account managers to be able to confidently contribute optimisations to changes in account performance.

Final thoughts

Auto-Applied Recommendations offer time-saving automated changes in exchange for permission to implement unsupervised changes which can change the search queries you are targeting, the ad copy you are showing and even how your campaigns bid.

While I can see benefits in having conflicting negative keywords and redundant keywords removed instantly, as someone that prefers knowing the reason behind a change and when a change was made, I won’t be opting in for Auto-Applied Recommendations.

Auto-Applied Recommendations will likely become a popular tool among business owners with limited resources for online advertising. If you’re looking for more advice and guidance on managing your Google Ads account, please get in touch.

Written by Chris

Experienced across Google, Facebook, Amazon and Bing advertising, Chris joined the Evoluted team as a Senior PPC Executive in early 2021 having made the transition from hospitality to digital marketing three years ago. Since then he's successfully managed a wide array of accounts from start-up ecommerce businesses to massive lead-gen operations with million-pound budgets.

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