AIIn terms of search engine advertising (SEA), Google already offers many features that include automation and machine learning, and the potentials of AI are stunning. But how much is AI really changing marketing and does it make human marketers obsolete?

Anja Heinrich, Head of SEA of the digital marketing agency ad agents doesn’t believe that, instead claiming that only the tasks are shifting. According to her, AI makes the results better, but by no means human account managers superfluous, and her train of thought is the following:

The dream of customized advertising

The triumphal procession of intelligent systems is unstoppable and promises scenarios that marketers have hardly dared to dream of: a tailor-made and thus perfect customer approach based on a wealth of information. This data includes 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, and geographic references. All this information is used anonymously to calculate the likelihood of success of advertising.

On the one hand, this development towards user-centered marketing is driven by the fact that more and more data is pervading the ether available for processing: at the same time, advances in artificial intelligence are helping machines to better process and use that data than ever before.

On the one hand, data driven marketing promises to optimize the timing of an advertisement: 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.

Data is the gold of the digital world

Starting point is the possession of user information that has become a central asset of digital advertising. Google is one of the players who benefits from this situation, because the search engine giant has more user information than any other player on the market. In order to optimize advertising, Google considers "exclusive signals" such as information about the user's operating system, the browser or language setting, and of course the search query itself.

People are no longer able to process the huge amounts of data retrieved and are certainly not able to create manually, based on the information, an individual ad for each target person. In order to not only collect big data, but also be able to process and use it profitably, Google invests heavily in the areas of automation and machine learning.

Machine Learning in Google Ads

In its core business, search engine advertising, 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 for given goals, such as conversions, by automatically changing bids.

According to Google, millions of signals are considered in the context of a user. For example, the end device, the browser or the day of the week are used at the moment of a search query to calculate the purchase probability of a particular user. If the conversion probability is considered high, due to the context signals, the bids are raised automatically, and lowered with a low probability.

Automated content creation

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), Google crawls web sites during a search query and creates the appropriate headline, on the basis of a deposited dummy ad. As an addition to the existing product campaigns, dynamic search ads make sense, especially for resellers with many products. If the assortment changes quickly, DSA can ensure that all products are mapped in the campaign.

For content creation, Google has recently been offering ad suggestions. This campaign type uses texts deposited by the account manager to generate additional ads, and the different messages compete against each other in doing so. Depending on the goal set by the account manager, Google selects the most successful as the crown of the advertising material creation. For some campaign types, Google even handles the entire process: from ad creation to bid creation, targeting, and delivery time.

Human tasks are shifting

So, smart technologies and campaign types are partly taking over operational activities that were previously performed by account managers. However, the use of AI and automation creates new tasks that people still need to work on, like the strategic decisions that underlie an advertising campaign that are in fact becoming ever more complex. The mass of campaign types and features in the Google world has exploded in recent years. When does which type of campaign make sense, what objectives do I specify, how do I react to incidents and occurring problems? Only those who use the right technology in the right place can unleash the power of AI.

Hence, the operational SEA craftsmanship is not obsolete. 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 into the marketing skills of the future. The fact is that if AI is used properly, it will definitely make search engine advertising better in the future.

By Daniela La Marca