Supposedly, Google started the trend of using Artificial Intelligence (AI) in search a few years ago, using it to optimize its algorithm and RankBrain. Today, digital marketers are making use of AI with a focus on process automation and personalized search results. Marketing dazzling AI pullulates since then, impressing with breath-taking potentials.

In terms of search engine advertising, Google already offers many features that include automation and machine learning, but how much is AI really changing marketing? Well, let me anticipate that AI makes the search result better, but human beings by no means expendable.

The dream of customized advertising

It currently seems like the triumphant advance of intelligent systems is unstoppable, promising scenarios that marketers have hardly dared to dream of, namely a tailor-made and thus perfect customer approach based on a wealth of information: data include socio-demographic information such as gender or age, interests, day of the week and time of day, behavior on a website, browser and device information, as well as geographic references. All such information is used anonymously to calculate the likelihood of success of an ad.

This development towards user-centered marketing is clearly driven by the fact that there is more and more data available for processing. At the same time, advances in artificial intelligence are making it constantly easier for machines to process and use this data. Data-driven marketing is born that promises to know the perfect time for spreading advertisement. And since algorithms can generate content that is precisely tailored to the respective target person, the data-driven marketing dream is about confronting the right person with the right ad at the right time.

It all starts with the collection and evaluation of user information, making data the central asset of digital advertising. Google is one of the players who benefits the most due to its huge data pool. The search engine giant has undoubtedly more user information than any other market player and manages with the help of AI to understand the consumer needs at its deepest level. Evolution in the world of digital marketing will be driven by data research and tools like machine learning, since digital marketers realized that each data input can bring change. Just keep in mind that Google considers "exclusive signals" such as information about the user's operating system, browser, language setting and of course the search query itself, to optimize the advertising impact and to stand out from the competition.

Machine learning and automated content creation

In its core business, which is search engine advertising (SEA), Google already offers several technologies that use machine learning through its recently renamed Google Ads platform (formerly AdWords). One is the ‘Smart Bidding’, where Google optimizes a campaign according to given goals, such as conversions, by automatically changing bids. Millions of signals are considered in an auction, Google states, e.g., the end device, the browser or the day of the week, are currently being used for a search query to calculate the purchase probability of a specific user. If the conversion probability is considered high due to the context signals, the bids are raised automatically, and lowered with a low probability.

While Smart Bidding controls the delivery of advertising, some functions are dedicated to the automated creation of advertising material.

For the creation of so-called Dynamic Search Ads (DSA), for instance, Google is crawling a search query and creates the appropriate headline based on a dummy ad. In addition to the existing product campaigns, dynamic search ads especially make sense for resellers with a huge number of products. If the assortment changes quickly, DSA can ensure that all products are mapped in the campaign.

For content creation, Google started to offer ad suggestions, too. This campaign type uses texts, deposited by the account manager, to generate additional ads. The different ads compete against each other. Depending on the goal set by the account manager, Google selects the most successful, quasi the best of the creative creation. For some campaign types, Google even handles the entire process - from creating the ad to bidding, targeting and the time of the playout.

Human tasks are shifting

Quite obviously, smart technologies and campaign types are taking over operational activities that were previously performed by account managers, right? Well, that’s just partly true. Although AI can handle and analyze big data and deliver personalized reports based on it, helping digital marketers to stay up-to-the-minute and easing their workload, the use of AI and automation has given rise to new tasks that still need people. Strategic decision making, the basis of any advertising campaign, are getting more complex and demanding and ultimately needs to be done by human beings.

Although the number of campaign types and features in the Google world has exploded in recent years, there are still critical questions to be answered: When does which campaign type make sense, what objectives do I specify and how do I react to incidents and problems that occur? Only those who use the right technology at the right place can unleash the power of AI. The operational SEA craftsmanship is still required, especially certain moral concepts and business ethics. Not to mention that after a smart setup, automated campaigns need to be monitored and handled with great flair.

The know-how about new technologies and the operative experience and expertise merge in the marketing of the future. Marketers with know-how to use AI properly make SEA better and SEO more effective.

By Daniela La Marca