Back in 2015 Dan wrote a fairly controversial article on Econsultancy entitled “You can’t do PPC if you can’t code”.

But does this still hold true in 2019 with the emergence of hundreds of PPC SaaS tools and the growing database of open source Google Ads scripts that practitioners can use?

In my opinion you can do paid search reasonably well using third party bidding tools and readily available open source Google Ads scripts.

As there are now open sourced scripts to allow you to automate most paid search management tasks from reporting, to search term report mining, to bidding and budget tracking about everything in between which were not available back in 2015.

But you can’t do paid search the best unless you can code, and what’s the point of doing something unless you’re going to do it the best you possibly can?

Let me explain…

Out of the box solutions still aren’t built just for you

Out-of-the-box bidding solutions have got better since 2015 and do serve a purpose. But as Dan argued back in 2015 they are still unlikely to do exactly what you need – these tools are still not built for everyone.

It’s like buying a suit off the shelf, you can usually find something that fits pretty well, but you’re never going to get that bespoke look of something that was tailor made for you.

Out-of-the-box solutions are especially weak when it comes to taking into consideration external data that is not within the Google Ads interface.

For example, if you know that crime rate affects the number of alarms sold in a certain postcode district, you can build your own custom bidding suite using Google Ads scripts that makes an API call to the police’s database, requests the number of burglaries in that postcode and if it’s up over the last week increases the bids in that postcode.

Off-the-shelf solutions don’t have the foresight of that data, they’re getting better at looking at external data like weather, but most simply make decisions based on historical performance.

They’re not able to react in real time to changes in supply and demand like you can with a custom solution.

The results of this can be fairly profound, at Clicteq we’ve seen custom based solutions outperform off-the-shelf solutions by as much as 30% where are there are external factors that effect supply and demand like this.

You can’t innovate with out-of-the-box solutions and if you can’t innovate, you can’t win

Being able to build your own solutions allows you to innovate and get ahead of your competition.

As more and more advertisers get access to technology through the open sourcing of Google Ads scripts and an ever growing raft to third party SaaS tools, building their own solutions is still an under-utilised frontier to compete.

There are a lot of good examples of where people have used automation to innovate and overcome limitations in Google Ads, such as adding keywords back to Google Shopping.

Advertisers with the ability to code will be able to build these solutions where their competitors will not, giving them better spend efficiency, making them more competitive.

Conclusions

In conclusion there is a lot that you can do with open sourced Google Ads scripts and off-the-shelf SaaS products that you couldn’t do back in 2015, that work well and allow you to automate a good proportion of your workload.

But if you want to be the best at paid search then you’ve got to focus on building your own automation solutions that plug that gaps that off-the-shelf products just don’t fill, as after all they have to work for everyone and were not specifically built for you.

There are several areas where building your own tools can really pay dividends. In situations where there are external factors like crime rate, call volume and forex rate for example that affect supply and demand, your own solutions are likely to significantly outperform off the shelf products.

Advertisers that can also code will be able to innovate faster than their competitors, allowing them to build solutions that overcome limitations in Google Ads platforms as well as being able to build their own solutions to automating repetitive tasks.

I’m certainly not saying that everyone in your agency should be able to code, but having a good understanding of what can and can’t be automated using Google Ads scripts and the API is essential so you can help somebody in your agencies tech department to build the application for you.

PPC Best Practice Guide