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Automation is a scary idea for many industries, because it seems to signal that many jobs will vanish. Especially in marketing, a business of largely analytical tasks for a high payout. Experienced marketers rely on automated reports, culling data that is automatically tracked. But automation can’t do everything, and it’s not a single solution to every problem your campaign faces. Anyone who uses Google AdWords knows that you can typically outperform the ad optimizer if you know even a little bit about display advertising. As your skills grow, you’ll find automation can’t keep up with you. There are some things that humans do better.

Anticipating Behavior

Machines can only report data and read what’s on the page. They will tell you which pages are most effective, but there is an entirely different dimension to reporting that gets lost along the way. Machines can’t tell you which demographics, for example, are converting best for your ads. Only you can find that by crunching the data you have into something actionable. That’s where machines fall short. They can tell you what you need to know, but not as yet how to react to that knowledge.

Deploying Campaigns

Machines and automation can make the process of deploying campaigns much easier, but they don’t do the job in its entirety. Machines can even offer you suggestions on what to bid on, and offer you some data on how those placements might perform. What machines can’t do is separate campaigns and perform testing. They can’t figure out why testing is needed in the first place, nor can they offer hunches on where to begin. You can use automation to find this data, usually through reporting, but it’s up to you to figure out how it applies to your campaigns.

Media Buying

Automation is what makes the banner advertising process possible. What machines can’t do is judge the quality of the traffic you’re receiving, and make decisions on how to further scale your campaigns. Machines can tell you how your campaigns are performing, but you are capable of making decisions on where your traffic comes from based on those results.


Automation is a benefit, not a deal breaker. You’ll need to automate some of your tasks just to stay afloat in the world of marketing, but we are long past the days of set and forget campaigns. Identify some menial tasks that automation can solve and focus on doing your own work more effectively.