The last six months or so has provided a shake up like none other for the online marketing industry. The emergence of AI models such as ChatGPT and Google Bard has electrified the digital marketing sector, with everyone scrambling to figure out their stance and how best they can leverage this giant kraken that has risen from the deep. Can it be used to gobble up basic tasks or will it turn round and guzzle you and your job up in one swooping bite? Let’s explore.
For me, the rise of AI has been surprising. More so in the speed of its deployment than the product itself. Seemingly every week a new update, version or capability launches, with countless use cases being shown by SEO and PPC communities on Twitter.
It somewhat reminds me, in an almost disrespectful way, of the rise of Cryptocurrencies and NFTs around 12-18 months ago. Mainly in the form of the enormous swell of attention that makes one feel like they either jump on the bandwagon or get left behind.
“This is the future” everyone cries. ‘AI Experts’ come crawling from the depths of the internet, mostly on Twitter. While the majority of marketers and the general public are thus far content to use ChatGPT to write humorous prompts, stories and songs…
(‘A relevant meme on the current state of Twitter’ Credit Laura Wendel)
And while Cryptocurrency and NFTs could still be the future of money/art respectively, AI models feel more inevitable in terms of their future. We have the ability to reject adoption of a new digital currency and art format. In theory, these tools don’t necessarily provide an obvious benefit or clear use case to the masses, other than to try and trade for profit. But with AI models it would seem much more difficult over the medium to long term to ignore the seemingly copious ‘real life’ use cases and capabilities of this beast.
AI models have the propensity to enhance or replace a wide range of different marketing roles. Just off the top of my head, the roles below are all within the Kraken’s reach and may experience some form of change, however severe, in the following months/years.
In reality, the impact of AI models warrant a blog on each of these areas, all with their own unique takes on how the technology will influence that space. However, in this particular blog we are going to focus specifically on the impact that it might have for paid advertising.
Will Paid Advertising Be Completely Automated?
This is the question that is making some pay per click agencies and executives rather nervous. The emergence of AI only adds to those anxieties.
Five plus years ago Google Ads was heavily manual oriented with executives and agencies carrying out the vast majority of all tasks with limited options for automation from Google. As the years tick by, Google’s focus has turned to persuading advertisers to use their automated features. From using the likes of ‘Maximise Conversions’ as an automated bidding strategy to the latest ‘Performance Max’ campaign that blends search with display, the days of Manual CPC feel like they are coming to a close.
With AI models such as ChatGPT and Google Bard shaking up the search engine experience, many wonder just what impact this will have on paid search advertising. And right now, it’s not entirely clear.
But the clues we have so far do allow us to make assumptions and gaze into our crystal ball. Earlier in May, Google unveiled its Search Generative Experience (SGE) and how this might look to replace existing search snippets. An initial result that has been doing the rounds is shown below.
The main takeaway from this snippet is the level of detail used in the search query. Running this query through a typical Google search today wouldn’t typically yield results aligned with the level of detail initially inputted.
However, as you can see, the new search experience is much more intricate, visual and informative. But the one thing this example lacks is ads! And that’s the purpose of this blog after all. So back to ads.
I once stumbled across an incredible stat that really blew me away. Did you know that incredibly over 80% of Google searches do not include an advert? It really makes you think. But then when you do, it starts to make sense. An overwhelming majority of searches in Google are information based.
“What is my IP address”
“Spaghetti Bolognese recipe”
“Parma FC fixtures”
In all of the instances listed above, there would be no need for an advert to show. No businesses want to pay to show you the weather or how to find your IP address. Now this is where AI models want to add value. They want to be everything that Ask Jeeves promised us, but failed to deliver, back in 2004. And that’s OK from a paid advertising perspective.
Where I see paid search moving to is a much more visual and interactive space. Google makes 56% of its revenue from search advertising alone. They won’t want to jeopardise this, and will ensure that even though the search experience might be more detailed and engaging that ultimately adverts are given space to breathe and generate engagement.
If you want to search for the ‘best Ljubljana hotels’ I imagine Google will want to prioritise adverts that have excellent imagery, videos, reviews and showcase the most complete listing information and selling points possible. Ultimately this will work best in its more visual and compelling search engine snippets.
Since Signify began, we have always found Google to give priority to those that ‘stay ahead’ and are ‘proactive’ as marketers. This sounds obvious, but by their frequent updates to Google Ads and SEO parameters they keep advertisers and marketers on their toes and don’t allow what worked yesterday to work forever.
I am sure many will currently be grinding their way through the migration to GA4 and also have the badge of honour from moving to the new Google Ads interface that launched around 18 months ago, for example.
Now, while I could ramble on around my predictions for paid search and AI, I’ll keep my summary and thoughts nice and brief.
Future Of Paid Advertising (Google Ads) Predictions:
Paid search is here to stay.
Paid search will become even more visual, with it being vital to have a strong brand and excellent brand assets (videos, images etc)
Paid search will continue to become more and more automated.
Google may try to shift advertisers towards using their account managers to promote the new automated features, rather than promoting using Google Partners to manage campaigns. (Be very wary of this)
Manual CPC will become defunct by the autumn of 2024.
Google will continue to leverage more visual adverts across its display network and search partners to drive revenue.
ChatGPT won’t be taking your PPC job… for the time being.
There is a possibility that AI may be the judge of which adverts should be displayed based on relevance of landing pages and advert copy compared with the search query.
So in summary, while changes are coming to Google Ads from the Krakens of ChatGPT and Google Bard, as well as others, I anticipate it being slower treading that people currently believe. Both search advertising and organic search will evolve. And it’s probably about time, as the search engine as we know it hasn’t changed too much over the last decade in terms of its appearance and usability. However, whilst the shift to automation is likely to continue for PPC, I wouldn’t anticipate AI taking over management or visibility of campaigns for the short to medium term.
Hopefully this is not a ‘freezing cold take’ in less than 12 months time… !