PPC Automation Demystified: the Ultimate Guide

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Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is an effective marketing practice for businesses looking to attract and convert customers with high intent. In this era of intense digital competition, manual PPC campaign management is not only time-consuming but also inefficient. To maximize your ROI and stay ahead of the competition, turn to automated PPC management solutions.

According to recent studies, up to 65% of all high-intent searches lead to a click on a PPC ad, making it a valuable tool for businesses looking to increase their ROI. Businesses require a comprehensive understanding of how to run effective PPC campaigns, including analysis of campaign performance and how to implement best practices for improvement. 

Jack Hall at Lunio recently covered some of the benefits of PPC automation when he wrote:

"Maybe you’re at a point with your business where you’re ready to grow rapidly. To double your spend and run more ads. PPC automation allows you to tap into economies of scale and leverage historic conversion data to expand campaigns almost instantly. Simply select your automated bidding strategy, your target return on ad spend, and let the algorithm do the rest."

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In this article, we will explore the benefits of PPC campaign automation and discuss how businesses can use artificial intelligence and automation to gain an edge over their competition. Additionally, we'll discuss why it's essential to measure the performance of your campaigns through metrics such as click-through rate, conversion rate and cost-per-click. You'll learn how you can use optimized targeting, ad copy and landing pages to improve upon these metrics.

By the time you finish reading this article, you will have a deep understanding of how to use PPC campaign automation to drive highly targeted and qualified traffic, maximize campaign performance, and gain an edge in the marketplace. Through the use of machine learning-driven techniques, businesses can save countless hours of manual labor while achieving better results with their advertising. Additionally, advertisers can utilize data-driven insights to further refine the best channels, campaign types, and content.

What is PPC Automation?

PPC automation refers to the use of software and algorithms to automate various aspects of PPC campaigns. PPC automation tools work by using AI to analyze data and make decisions based on predefined rules. For example, an automation tool can adjust bids based on the performance of keywords, or create ad copy variants based on existing ads. 

PPC automation can help businesses save time, reduce costs, and increase ROI. By automating various aspects of PPC campaigns, businesses can focus on more strategic activities, such as audience targeting and messaging. However, with so many PPC automation tools available in the market, it can be challenging for businesses to know which tool to choose and how to implement it successfully. Read on to get a better sense of the different types of PPC automation, learn tips to choose the right tool for you, and have strategies in your pocket to make your transition to more automated paid media management seamless.

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Types of PPC Automation

There are several types of PPC automation, including:

  1. Bid management automation: This involves automatically adjusting bids based on the performance of keywords or ad groups.
  2. Ad copy automation: This involves automatically generating ad copy based on predefined rules or data.
  3. Keyword research automation: This involves using algorithms to identify relevant keywords based on search volume, competition, and other factors.
  4. Performance monitoring automation: This involves automatically monitoring campaign performance and making adjustments.
  5. Landing page automation: This involves automatically optimizing landing pages based on user behavior or predefined rules.

Bid Management Automation

PPC bid management is the process of strategically lowering or increasing keyword bids, ensuring you're getting the highest placement on SERPs possible while keeping an eye on costs. When handled properly, this process can help businesses achieve maximum visibility at a reasonable price.

In the SERP auction system, the more you bid for a certain keyword, the higher your ranking will be. Placing your ad in the top three positions ensures remarkable visibility and massive click-throughs. As nearly half of all clicks are driven by just these top ads, having one of them secured will result in the greatest growth potential for your business.

This isn't always the most cost-effective approach of course because a high CPC (cost per click) also leads to a higher CPA (cost per acquisition). A smart bidding strategy helps you balance your CPC, get clicks and conversions in good numbers, and also conserve budget to gain more conversion opportunities. This way, you can achieve a strong CPC and CPA value.

Automating bid management is the solution to this problem. Bidding automation is a good way to be responsive in advertising without having to constantly monitor bids.

Ad Copy Automation

AI copywriters have far more capabilities than just writing blog posts and proofreading. They have been trained on a large amount of online information, much of which is centered around marketing. Consequently, they are now able to generate content with high conversion potential, and their effectiveness in simplifying ad copy generation is no exception.

PPC marketers in particular are drawn to the advantages of AI writing assistants. Crafting persuasive copy that can capture the attention of an increasingly short-attention-spanned online audience is time consuming and difficult.

With the help of AI writers, you can quickly create copy for any advertising campaign. Whether it's the Problem-Agitate-Solution (PAS) or classic Attention, Interest, Desire, Action (AIDA) models, or even the Before-After-Bridge framework - you can find out which one works best for your audience in just a few minutes.

Figuring out which framework will be most effective for your target audience and lead to more conversions can be a tricky task. Fortunately, there are many resources available that can help you make the right decision.

A/B testing is a great way to evaluate the efficiency of two versions of an advertisement. Variant testing has been used for years to maximize conversion rates in all areas of digital marketing and it can apply to optimizing machine-learning-generated content as well.

AI-powered A/B testing tools have revolutionized the optimization process. Unbounce's Smart Traffic was one of the pioneering tools in this domain and several others have since joined the bandwagon. These tools not only make ad copywriting cheaper, faster and more efficient, but also allow you to get better results, like AdoreMe did in this example shared by RIS.

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Keyword Research and Analysis Automation

Keywords form the crux of search engine marketing and they need to be regularly analyzed to ensure you’re always targeting the best keywords for your industry and customer personas. This process isn't easy and can require significant time and effort.

Keyword research automation tools have been designed to help you get the most out of keyword analysis without needing much time. By working with AI-powered technology, you can automate tedious and repetitive tasks related to keyword analysis and capitalize on the latest keyword data more quickly.

For many tools available, this automation is perpetual and dynamic, so that you can be sure your keyword optimization is always as up-to-date as possible. Here are a few of the tactics automated keyword analysis tools use to achieve this ongoing optimization:

  • Automating keyword grouping takes a keyword, assesses its visits and popularity, then provides relevant segmentation recommendations. This not only increases the Quality Score of your ads but also helps optimize your time spent on exploring the important keywords you’ve already uncovered.
  • Many keyword automation tools can view all terms that lead users to your site and add those keywords to a database for further analysis. This analysis helps marketers identify who their target audience is and which keywords are most effective for them based on previous performance. Each day, keyword discovery and analysis occur automatically, allowing your keyword list to continuously expand and update itself while you are away.
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  • New keyword searches that are found in this automatic analysis can help you gain insights into different markets and identify popular trends which apply to various aspects of your business. With this technique, you can continuously enhance your list of long-tail keywords as well and find less competitive search terms with higher conversion rates.
  • Source-level keyword analysis provides valuable data to make informed decisions. You can opt for paid, organic, or suggested keywords and analyze their associated traffic estimates or look at all your keywords together. This will give you a better understanding of the performance of each keyword and help you decide on the best course of action.
  • Incorporating negative keywords in your campaigns is essential to maximize the efficiency of your ad expenditure and ultimately, increase the return on investment. There are various tools on the market that scour through your website data to identify areas where a negative keyword can be beneficial and enhance campaign performance. By using AI assistance, bots are able to quickly find and integrate negative words into your search campaigns. Moreover, when carrying out searches, any negative terms that come up are filtered out automatically so you only get the best results.

Performance Monitoring Automation

With performance monitoring automation, the answer to “are we on track with our advertising goals?” can be determined quickly and easily. No more late nights spent researching or manually composing reports—all it takes is a few clicks to integrate your publisher platforms with Marin and you’ll have the composited data you need to analyze progress toward organizational objectives.

With MarinOne, you can now access all your performance data from different advertising platforms in one place. By utilizing MarinOne Insights, you can accurately and precisely assess the success of any given campaign against the other campaigns you’re running.

Gain complete visibility into the performance of your various social media platforms with one login and one dashboard. Monitor and manage activity for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other walled garden networks without any hassle.

Automating your campaign performance monitoring also helps you to make informed adjustments to your advertising strategy on an ongoing basis. Disable ads that don't deliver as expected, and focus on those that are doing well automatically with pre-defined parameters.

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Landing Page Optimization and Automation

Landing page optimization is an essential process to identify and overcome any issues with the page. It involves strategic experimentation to determine how different changes affect the conversion rate.

Streamlining your landing page build process removes friction for internal teams, and reduces the need to perform manual tasks such as data entry, placing contacts into specific workflows, and segmenting contacts or tagging them one by one.

Landing page automation refers to the individual users’ personalized journey, and creating a responsive backend of your website that identifies how a user has already engaged with your content. Then artificial intelligence technology can dynamically generate a customized, individual LP according to your pre-authorized specifications.

A successful personalization approach should target the customer directly—we can now do better than just a simple "Hi [Name]!". To maximize returns, it's essential to incorporate individualized offers and CTAs, a straightforward user interface and 1-on-1 contact via chat tools and personal followup messaging.

To start, ensure your forms automatically fill in all of your customers' details, including their name, address, and job position. This alone will significantly increase conversion rates, as “work” for the user has been removed from the process. Remember, the more effort required from the user = fewer conversions.

Running A/B testing with small cohorts will help you determine how the audience reacts to different elements of your marketing strategy. Optimize a "sandbox" landing page till it surpasses expectations. Minor changes such as position, font size, and headlines can have a huge effect on consumer behavior.

Here are a few other ways you can personalize dynamically generated landing pages:

  • With every visit, welcome customers with a tailored greeting.
  • Present them with products or services related to their previous searches or purchases.
  • Populate content recommendations based on their past activity also available for them to explore.
  • Include any individual information you can. From accounts and lists to on-site browsing history.
  • For B2C particularly, ensure billing, orders, delivery address, returns, and everything logistics related is centralized to one location. This also will contribute positively to AOV (Average Order Value) and CTV (Customer Lifetime Value) as users can buy repeat products again quickly and easily.

Generating personalized marketing campaigns is a gradual process, where the ultimate goal is to get customers to reach the landing page. Every step of this journey needs to be carefully crafted in order to entice, engage and encourage customers - ultimately letting them know that you understand their needs and care about their opinion.

By gently pushing users to take your desired action with a highly-personalized approach, you can strengthen the bond and gain their trust. This is a great way to build loyalty with your customers and increase brand equity for many years to come.

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Choosing the Right PPC Automation Tool

When selecting the right Pay-Per-Click (PPC) automation tool, there are several crucial factors to consider. Firstly, you should focus on its AI capabilities and how much work it will ultimately take off your plate, or at least streamline. Second, consider how easily it can be integrated into your existing marketing infrastructure. It should be able to handle your campaigns efficiently while providing paths to scale your advertising investment. Next, consider its user-friendliness. A tool with a steep learning curve may not be the best choice, especially if your team isn't well-versed in PPC management. Pricing is another essential factor. Compare different tools and see which one offers the best value for its cost. Last but not least, customer support can play a vital role, especially when you encounter difficulties or require assistance with the tool.

There are several popular PPC automation tools available in the market. There are some direct publisher options of course…like Google Ads and Microsoft Ads. The benefit with these is that the tools are free to use aside from the cost of advertising itself. Google Ads of course is a major player in this space, offering a wide array of features and interesting automation options. Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads) is another excellent tool with broad reach and comparative advantages in certain demographics. 

However third-party platforms like MarinOne, WordStream, and Optmyzr are well worth the cost for having advanced features and capabilities. If you're using publisher tools alone, it's quite likely that you are overpaying on cost per acquisition or cost per engagement, while spending too much time optimizing manually. Third party tools have a cost to use the software itself of course, but you'll save exponentially in your team's time and your return on advertising investment as the campaigns you're running become far more efficient. This offsets the cost of a third party tool significantly.

Let's go through each of these examples briefly, to give you a lay of the PPC automation landscape. Like any other technology, each tool comes with its own pros and cons. Google Ads, being the most popular search engine, has a vast reach and offers highly sophisticated targeting and bidding options. However, it can be complex and intimidating for beginners. Microsoft Advertising can reach demographics not adequately covered by Google, and it has a less competitive environment. But, its overall reach is considerably less than Google's. 

At Marin Software we are known for our cross-channel advertising capabilities, completely AI-driven budget optimization tools, and our powerful reporting dashboards…although our platform might be too sophisticated for newer advertisers. WordStream provides a simplified interface and 20-minute work week feature, but doesn't offer much for paid social ads. Finally, Optmyzr provides granular control over PPC management, but we've heard many concerns regarding their bidding and budget management tools(or lack thereof). Therefore, choosing the right PPC automation tool depends on your business needs, budget, and the skill level of your marketing team. Read our related blog on choosing a PPC automation tool for you to get more guidance in the process.

Implementing PPC Automation

The process of implementing PPC automation can significantly enhance your digital marketing campaign effectiveness over time, but it requires a systematic approach. The first step towards achieving the goal of nearly hands-off digital advertising is clearly defining your business objectives. What do you aim to achieve with automation? It could be increasing click-through rates, enhancing return on investment, or improving customer engagement. These goals will guide the selection of your automation tool and the parameters within which it operates. The second step is to choose an appropriate automation tool, as discussed previously. Consider factors such as the tool's automation capabilities, ease of use, pricing, and customer support. Lastly, the rules for automation must be defined. These rules are guidelines that dictate how the tool behaves in response to certain triggers or conditions. They could relate to bidding strategies, ad placements, or budget management, among others.

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One common challenge faced during the implementation of PPC automation is data integration issues. Your automation tool needs access to accurate and relevant data to perform effectively. If the tool cannot integrate smoothly with your existing data sources or if the data is inaccurate or incomplete, the automation efforts may not yield the desired results. 

A thorough audit of your data sources and their compatibility with the chosen automation tool is recommended to mitigate data integration issues. You could consult with data analysts or the tool's support team to ensure the data is complete. 

Defining the rules for automation requires a good understanding of your marketing objectives and the tool's capabilities. It's often a good idea to start with simpler rules and gradually increase their complexity as you become more familiar with the tool. Testing is an essential practice for successful implementation. Instead of setting the automation tool to work on all campaigns right away, start by applying it to a single campaign or a subset of your campaigns. This will allow you to monitor its performance closely and make necessary adjustments before scaling up.

Lastly, continuous monitoring and tweaking are critical once the automation is in place. This is because market conditions, customer behaviors, and business objectives can change over time. Therefore, your automation tactics should adapt to these changes. Regular performance reviews will help you identify areas of improvement and optimize your PPC automation for better results.

To determine the right tasks to automate in your advertising campaign management, Frederick Vallaeys said the following in Search Engine Journal:

"Draw a grid where the x-axis shows how time consuming a task is and the y-axis shows how often you do a task. Then add your PPC work onto the grid to help you figure out what to prioritize for automation. The longer it takes and the more you do it, the bigger the benefit from automating it."

Optimizing PPC Automation

In the realm of digital marketing, optimizing campaigns while utilzing PPC automation operates much like an orchestra conductor. You are there to lead and guide automation tools, like various musicians in an orchestra, but you must have the know-how and understanding of each tool to keep the complex symphony of advertising components moving in harmony. When you've developed your skills within the platform you're using, you'll effectively drive the audience—your potential customers—towards the intended crescendo—conversion. 

Sophisticated marketers should pay attention to the subtleties of different indicators, such as quality score, conversion rate, and ROI. These metrics should be examined not just in isolation, but also in relation to each other, with a keen eye on the specific goals that have been initially outlined for the campaign. 

There's a propensity for some marketers to lean excessively on automation, like a novice musician over-relying on sheet music. This can potentially stifle creativity and overlook the intuitive insights that experienced human marketers can offer. In the same vein, failing to revise automation rules can diminish the relevance and efficacy of your campaign. And an absence of human oversight might allow mistakes to go unaddressed, thereby negatively affecting overall performance.

In short, automation, while invaluable for its efficiency and consistency, should complement and not supplant human acumen. Regular revisions of automation rules and a clear understanding of "how the machine is working" are a necessity, allowing you to keep in stride with the ever-changing tempo of market trends and shifting campaign goals. 

Advanced PPC Automation Strategies

In the following section we'll go through a few advanced PPC automation tactics you can start to employ, including predictive analytics, audience segmentation, AI-powered optimization recommendations, and automated bidding. These strategies can help businesses improve targeting and optimize bidding. Let's break down each of these to help you determine which strategy might be best for your organization.

Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics sits at the nexus of advanced PPC automation strategies, functioning as the crystal ball of the digital marketing world. It utilizes powerful AI algorithms to analyze historical data and forecast future user behaviors, trends, and outcomes. This can provide businesses with critical insights that can inform ad campaign strategies and bidding decisions. For instance, by predicting periods of increased search volume or user engagement, businesses can strategically allocate their advertising budget to capitalize on these high-activity phases. Simultaneously, predictive analytics can warn marketers about potential periods of decreased engagement, allowing them to minimize wasted ad spend.

Keep in mind that feeding automation the right data is critical to ensure the outputs you receive are accurate and performing as well as possible. Karthik Kashyap of Spiceworks said this regarding automation data. 

"For automation to work correctly, your tools and platforms need the correct data so that they can make the right decisions. For example, you can set up smart campaigns if you have data from existing campaigns. Your smart tools can learn from the existing data. As you run more iterations, your automation tools can learn from them."

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Audience Segmentation

Audience segmentation enables businesses to dissect their broad customer base into more specific, manageable groups based on shared characteristics like demographics, browsing behavior, purchase history, and more. By creating tailored advertisements that resonate with each segment's unique preferences and needs, businesses can achieve more significant engagement and conversion rates. Moreover, audience segmentation can also be used in conjunction with predictive analytics to further refine targeting strategies, thereby maximizing the effectiveness of ad campaigns.

Pro tip: Technographic audience segmentation is often overlooked and can have really interesting applications, especially for anyone in SaaS, technology, or B2B industries. Technographics use technology data to split audiences into specific groups based on their tech usage. This includes factors like device type, software usage, CRM, and online service subscriptions. 

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You can use this information to create a more seamless experience for potential customers. Content for mobile users, for instance, can be tailored for consumption on the move, with interactive elements like fast surveys or likable images to maintain interest. 

AI-powered Optimization Recommendations

AI-powered optimization recommendations have emerged as a game-changer in the PPC landscape. By leveraging the capabilities of artificial intelligence, businesses can automate complex tasks such as keyword research, bid management, and ad changes over time. AI can process vast amounts of data at a rapid pace and make informed decisions based on intricate patterns and trends that human marketers might overlook. 

Pro tip: Machine learning algorithms can counter ad fraud in PPC advertising by constantly analyzing real-time data to identify fraudulent clicks. Through AI, genuine user interactions can be distinguished from fake activity by examining various data points, thus saving time and ad spend for advertisers.

Automated Bidding

Automated bidding is the final strategy in this comprehensive suite of advanced PPC automation techniques. Instead of manually setting bids for each ad or keyword, businesses can delegate this task to an automated system. This system uses machine learning to analyze numerous factors, like time of day, device type, and location, and then adjusts bids in real time to maximize results based on the advertiser's objectives. Whether it's driving more conversions or achieving a higher click-through rate, automated bidding can optimize ad spend to meet these goals, freeing up valuable time for businesses to focus on other strategic aspects of their campaigns.

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PPC Automation and Marketing ROI

PPC automation can significantly impact a business's marketing ROI. One way to calculate ROI from PPC automation is to compare the performance of automated campaigns to non-automated campaigns. 

Another approach is to look at efficiency and productivity. Time saved amongst teams can be a huge value add to company leadership. Put together a spreadsheet of all the hours that used to be spent on mindless, iterative tasks that can now be done with artificial intelligence. Multiply these hours by the average hourly wage in your industry, and you have some quick and powerful estimates on how much fiscal investment this new process is saving your company in overhead costs. Or better yet, use this data to make your case for a new business initiative or support program that fills existing gaps in your organization. You'll be viewed as the genius that saved money and improved processes in one foul swoop.

Pro tip: In addition to advertising, AI can assist in automating all kinds of other marketing tasks. Statistically, marketers' least favorite tasks include data entry, lead management, and project tracking; so it's quite common for these professionals to assign that work to computers, saving valuable human time. Suitable tasks for automation are those that are repetitive, occur on a schedule, and involve information transfer between apps.

In data tracking, generate customer profiles automatically and prepare reports. In lead management, automate everything from the initial contact to team handoff. For task management, automate logistics and task creation from emails. 

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PPC Automation and the Future of Digital Marketing

Here are some emerging trends we expect to see in PPC automation and how they will shape the future of digital marketing:

  1. Goodbye, Keywords: Google, Bing, and other search engines are shifting away from the traditional keyword-centric model to focusing more on user intent as automation increases. This change, driven by factors like close match variants and broad match, necessitates a greater focus on individual searchers. While keywords remain useful, about 15% of Google's daily searches are unique, lacking prior ad data, making ad and resource allocation challenging.
  2. Economic instability has advertisers diversifying their media mix: Global economic instability is prompting optimized ad budget allocation across all channels. Factors like persistent COVID-19 related product shortages, the EU energy crisis, rising interest rates, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict are affecting online advertising. Countries are differentially impacted, with some facing severe product shortages. For online sellers, this uncertainty means tighter budgets and higher expectations for returns on ad spend. To meet these targets, they must optimize advertising strategies, leveraging insights from current advertising trends.
  3. Customer-centric Marketing: As algorithms, AI, and machine learning evolve, a pivotal shift is needed in PPC campaigns–focusing content more on the audience's needs and buyer's journey rather than solely pleasing algorithms. To compete, marketers must prioritize customer-centric content that enhances audience experience and offers rewards, garnering more attention and clicks. This could be achieved through gamification, introducing playful elements into non-gaming business contexts to enrich customer experience and foster loyalty. Nike Run Club, which allows athletes to track progress, earn rewards, and share victories, serves as an example.
  4. Voice search optimization: With the rise of voice assistants like Siri and Alexa, businesses will need to optimize their PPC campaigns for voice search. This will require using long-tail keywords and natural language, as well as leveraging automation tools to optimize bidding and targeting for voice search.
  5. SEO and PPC becoming one: The integration of SEO and PPC is proving beneficial for organizations, leading to improved content quality through effective ad copy analysis, better rates through long-tail keywords, and successful bidding strategies. Looking ahead, this synergy will facilitate the discovery of competitive keywords through detailed reporting, enhancing efficiency and audience impact.
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Where PPC Marketers Go From Here

In this guide, we've covered the basics of PPC automation, the different types of automation, how to choose the right automation tool, and how to successfully implement and optimize automation tactics. 

Here's a quick recap of the key takeaways from the guide:

  • PPC automation can save businesses time and reduce costs by automating various aspects of PPC campaigns.
  • There are several types of PPC automation, including bid management, ad copy creation, and landing page optimization.
  • When choosing a PPC automation tool, businesses should consider the features of the tool, the cost, and the ease of use.
  • Implementing PPC automation involves setting goals, selecting an automation tool, and defining rules for automation.
  • PPC automation can significantly impact a business's marketing ROI by improving efficiency, increasing conversions, and reducing overhead costs.
  • Emerging trends in PPC automation include saying goodbye to keywords, diversifying media mix due to economic instability, customer-centric marketing, voice search optimization, and the merger of SEO and PPC.

Diana-Alina Aldea of Creatopy said, "Before, being a stellar performer was enough to excel as a PPC specialist. Now you are also required to be a great strategist, and automation helps you with that. So don’t get bogged down in manual tasks, embrace the possibilities of automation and direct your energy towards creativity, A/B testing, optimization, and data analysis."

So, the crux of it is really this: PPC automation isn't just an optional accessory; it's the secret rocket fuel powering businesses to zoom ahead in the electrifying race of digital marketing. PPC automation is like your super-human Ironman suit that will take the strategic, creative individual inside and amplify them with bells and whistles and doo-dads. 

With proper execution of PPC automation tools, businesses can blast away time constraints, vaporize unnecessary costs, supercharge ROI, and streak light-years ahead of the competition. Now, that's what we call a winning strategy! Contact a representative from MarinOne to get your PPC automation plan underway.