I know the editorial statements of guest contributors are not the opinions of Search Engine Land but someone should have read this one first. Bid management software is a money sink? Come on guys.
Nick Abramovic, the column writer, posts "With these bidding systems being rules-based, they require account managers to make customizations". Of course, and those customizatiions take time and effort, but they save massive amounts of time - just from a report basis to begin with. But they also provide an interface where you can pull information to the keyword level for all engines into the same spread sheet. Something anyone who has done extensive keyword management knows takes hours and pivot tables.
When you have a set price for an item - or at least what you are willing to pay for the conversion you have a maximum you should be spending. Making sure keywords or ads are turned off if they are hitting overspends is a basic. It is like investing without putting in stop orders.
Even at the portfolio level bid management is essential. True, people need eyes on it as well but their views can be more focused if some of the basics are covered. You can then test lowering prices as well, based on new ads and keyword coupling along with landing pages. This can all be done with multivariable testing inside customized bid management.
I agree there is work to be done, but ultimately these tools are an essential growth in proper maintenance.
Condemning software on the basis of users miss using it is really not fair to the programs. Say agencies may be motivated by a percentage of spend and "may" not be on top of conversion costs, but a good agency will have a combined minimum Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) along with spend numbers in their payment structure.
"Even the "advanced" agencies are not very sophisticated - they will use rules-based bidding that works half the time because they still require humans to double-check if they actually care about their client's bottom-line," Abramovic suggests.
His argument against automated bid management supposes the work would be too much - or that the management could be set to high or too low and have a losing impact. True, as he mentions C level people generally are not statisticians - but the people doing the analytics should have some experience in the area and learn from the companies how best to use and implement methods.
Mate, a little too quick to suggest "So whenever you hear a sales pitch from an agency with "proprietary technology" and are ROI-focused do what I do and say "K, thanks, bye!".
I would be asking how good is your training and how many other companies doing large keyword bid management campaigns are using the software. Talk to some of them and see how many people in support they have.