The limitations of auto bidding software

Contrary to popular opinion, artificial intelligence isn’t something better resigned to the movies, it’s here already. Every day thousands of businesses are turning to automated services to improve their business processes, and drive efficiency. Innovative auto bidding software like Acquisio, an automated Adwords platform that ‘learns’ how to improve your campaigns performance have begun to change the way we manage our data.

To us the question is no longer will algorithms replace digital agencies’; it’s a matter of ‘when’. We were keen to see whether Acquisio could take the reigns of campaigns monitored by digital agencies, and live up to the hype bestowed upon it by campaign managers.

What is Acquisio?

For thousands of businesses around the world, Acquisio’s bidding software is a key provider of online campaign management, eliminating the need for a digital agency through its clever algorithm. The algorithm optimizes client’s bids to increase the number of leads generated multiple times a day.

The simplicity of its user interface has enabled marketers to track, manage and optimize their campaigns through a variety of different search engines whilst avoiding the costs of a traditional agency. Generally, managing all the data surrounding campaign can be extremely time consuming, but Acquisio enables its users to improve their campaign performance by providing data on cost per acquisition, quality score and spend.

Yet despite its reputation, Acquisio does have some considerable limitations for anyone who requires more than just daily bid management. An agency not only manages your bids, but reviews the keywords you showed for, the negatives you had in your account, the times your bidding at, as well as feedback on lead quality from the sales team.

Put simply, not all leads were created equal and sometimes-expensive leads can have higher conversion rates for a sales team that mean your overall cost per new client is lower than the alternative of churning through lots of cheap leads.

Acquisio: A Breakdown

In order to take an active look at what Acquisio has to offer, we ran a test over 4 weeks on two different client’s campaigns to get a feel for the overall system. From the outset, we were very impressed with the reports facility and the external support available. The user interface is easy to use, and you don’t need to learn Adwords or worry about altering your bids every day as the algorithm learns how best to complete that for you in your competitive environment.

Even though this was a promising start, when we delved a little deeper, a number of deficits arose that meant Acquisio went from being a full agency alternative to a solid agency support tool. For example as time went on we found that our key metrics (i.e. ad our position) dropped significantly as cheap leads took precedence over quality ones. Acquisio it seems is a great tool for getting leads but as this didn’t correlate into sales from a client point of view the increase in leads was largely irrelevant.

By going over and over our data, we’ve found that from a lead quality point of view, the best leads for these campaigns came from positions 1-3 and without the option to control ad position the resulting lead quality drop meant we actually had to disconnect Acquisio from the account in order to get lead quality back up.

Given the fact we had to end our test pretty early, we tried bolting Acquisio into a niche market which was a little less competitive (and where position didn’t matter as much) only to be confronted by a new problem. In the niche market, Acquisio actually got us less leads regardless of the volume by bidding so low that the one or two leads that were out there got snapped up by the competition. There simply wasn’t enough volume in that market for the algorithm to learn how best to compete!

Is Acquisio a Campaign Staple? Our Verdict

Ultimately, Acquisio is a great tool for new comers looking to run a simple Adwords campaign in an averagely competitive environment, but it is far from a digital agency replacement tool. While altering bids is one thing that Acquisio does really well (better than an agency could given the frequency it changes bids) what it doesn’t do is look at the bigger picture, and that’s where an agency adds real value.

At Report Central we are largely critical of traditional agencies that set up campaigns and then let them run themselves, so for these Acquisio is definitely an overdue replacement, but for me Acquisio isn’t quite as clever as it needs to be to replace a great agency. As such the problem with Acquisio isn’t its ability to control an Adwords campaign, it’s ‘how’ it decides to control that campaign that doesn’t live up to expectation for me. Unfortunately for Acquisio to me the ‘how’ is the most important bit.

Good for Newcomers, Bad for Campaign Veterans

Compared to an agency, Acquisio can’t pick keywords or find new ones and neither can it figure out the difference between good quality and bad quality leads so for me this resigns Acquisio to the rank of a good support tool rather than a full-fledged standalone package.

As an agency, once we solve the bid position issue, Acquisio offers the opportunity to reduce the man-hours taken to adjust bids, enabling PPC Managers to focus more on data management. Informed data management decisions help to differentiate an average campaign from a great one. Getting the ‘how’ spot on helps to bridge the gap between expectations and results.

For now then the algorithm Acquisio is built on is certainly a step forward, and for that it deserves credit. I am almost certain in future it will only get better, and the fact that it already puts poor agencies who do little to justify their monthly fees to shame will undoubtedly win it loyal fans amongst those disillusioned by years of poor service.

Yet until Acquisio solves the problem of collating and analyzing data produced by a campaign in terms of lead quality, along with spotting new opportunities, Acquisio leaves a lot to be desired in terms of its billing as an agency replacement.

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Comment 1

  1. Vita Martin March 19, 2018 at 11:47 am

    Very informative article. Thanks!

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