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Performance Marketing January 22, 2021

Deepening investment in clients by boosting performance with auto-apply recommendations


We are happy to announce that we are the first agency in the EMEA region that’s featured in a Google case study about Auto Apply Recommendations. Dept has extensively and efficiently been using Google AAR for various clients, boosting their performance. Here you can read the whole story, which soon can be found on Google’s success stories page.

The challenge

Dept strives to help clients thrive in a digital world, and the agency plays an integral role in digital transformations for brand success in an online era. While the agency is known for quality, account performance can sometimes vary due to the sheer volume of manual Google Ads account optimizations required. “To deliver the highest value to all of our clients,” says Veenvliet, “we knew we needed to work more efficiently and spend more time listening to our clients, instead of on the repetitive work required in setting up and monitoring campaigns.”

The approach

“Auto-apply recommendations is the optimal combination of quality and time savings.” —Peter Veenvliet, Head of Search, Dept

In April 2020, Dept began applying recommendations automatically on a subset of its portfolio, starting with hygiene recommendations like the removal of conflicting keywords, and then adding more impactful recommendations, such as Smart Bidding. As positive results began coming in, Dept also added accounts to its test. “Our strategy is to gradually adopt and test the features that Google Ads auto-apply recommendations provide, and evaluate each step before moving to the next level of automation,” says Veenvliet.

While Dept increases its use of auto-apply recommendations, the agency understands the important role the marketer plays in the campaign optimization process. “There is an equilibrium between time efficiency, control, and performance,” says Veenvliet. “We want to automate as much as possible, but it should never come at a cost of losing the feel on the account.”

The results

By September 2020, 80 percent of Dept’s accounts were opted into autoapply recommendations and the company is opting in more accounts each week. The average optimization score of these accounts increased by 18 points, resulting in higher overall campaign quality and increased account performance.

As an example, Dept was working with a construction company, BAM, who wanted to attract and hire more employees. Dept opted BAM into auto-apply recommendations, which ran automated optimizations and used keyword exclusion to get rid of irrelevant keywords. BAM quickly saw a 10 percent increase in conversion volume and a 20 percent increase in conversion rate— in part attributable to automatically applying recommendations—and this translated into an increasingly-targeted candidate pool for BAM’s job listings.

Along with a boost in campaign performance, applying recommendations automatically has also freed up the time Dept spends on repetitive tasks by 20 percent. “Auto-apply recommendations is the optimal combination of quality and time savings,” says Veenvliet. “Agencies strive to add the most value for clients, and that value is not in manual repetitive tasks—it’s in understanding the business and translating that knowledge into actionable plans towards digital.”

Currently, the tool is in beta, as of the end of Q1 it will be available for all Google users.

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