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Looking Ahead: How Machine Learning and AI Will Influence PPC

By Rory Witt    |    October 2, 2017

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In the late 1950s, the link between human intelligence and machines was observed. Since its discovery, machine learning has been evolving quickly. Today, it can be applied to almost any task.

As artificial intelligence (AI) increases its applications, it becomes more and more mainstream. Chances are that you’ve heard robots even excel in PPC … Well, “excel” might be a bit of a stretch, but AI is becoming a hot topic in the PPC field—and for a good reason.

If you’d like to know more about the impact AI currently has on PPC and its future potential, read on. This article will teach you (almost) everything you need to know, from what AI really is to how AI will change PPC in the future.

What Is AI, Anyway?

Artificial Intelligence sounds a bit hoaxy, but it couldn’t be more real. Over the past decade, it’s gained so much traction that it’s now one of the most common buzzwords among marketing professionals.

In short, artificial intelligence means that a machine has the ability to think like a human. In a perfect world, AI can have abstract and creative thoughts. This type of intelligence also has amazing processing capabilities—much more than that of the average human. AI can easily process large data sets that would otherwise overwhelm people. This is why AI and Big Data are often discussed hand-in-hand.

Currently, AI is being applied in a variety of fields, from quantum physics to medicine. Although you might not know it, your daily life might even be impacted by AI. If you use a technology like Google Assist or Siri, you use an AI-powered technology.

AI and PPC Today

As sure as PPC trounces SEO, humans still trounce AI in PPC automation. Streamlining the data collection and organization processes of marketing is one thing, but a complete automation is another. And, as it turns out, complete automation isn’t realisticyet. The expertise of advertising managers is still greater than the expertise of AI when it comes to PPC.

Artificial intelligence simply isn’t advanced enough to identify things like anomalies in PPC campaigns.

A Questionable Track Record

Many experts and industry leaders agree that AI isn’t ready to tackle PPC as it now stands. However, people love to challenge convention, which is why several companies have tried to automate their online marketing campaigns with the help of artificial intelligence. 

One company wanted to automate its search query mining process, so they looked toward AI. Although they were expecting a positive outcome, they fell a bit short … 

The machine successfully added high-performing keywords to their campaign, but it made one mistake; It didn’t consider trademarks. The company was legally forbidden from using various keywords—something the machine failed to recognize. 

Other companies have tried to use automated copywriting in their online advertising campaigns, but with little success. Automated copywriting is fairly successful when it comes to adhering to sound PPC principles, but it falls short when it comes to creating emotional and creative copy. For that kind of stuff, a human touch is best.

Degree of Automation

Some companies aren’t ready for AI. If this sounds like your organization, you can still automate your business without AI.

Companies that are developed enough to take advantage of machine learning should start to test it out in their content strategies. Overall, the level of PPC automation you implement will depend on your current goals and processes.

Some companies will benefit from creating automations that monitor and alert them when issues arise. For example, a company might create a process that scans their AdWords hourly spend to look for discrepancies and potential issues.

Other businesses might decide to automate a few or their tasks. These organizations could use an automation tool that pauses a campaign as soon as it reaches a predefined limit.

Groups that are comfortable with the methods outlined above might be ready to automate related tasks. Here, a marketing company could utilize a system that’s smart enough to realize how a change in one variable can influence another. In this case, AI should understand how the variables interact, and it should be smart enough to manipulate variables based on additional information.

The last step mentioned above is where a lot of businesses stop. Without a full engineering team, it can be difficult to go any further. That being said, several large companies are attempting to use complete automation that requires no human oversight. As you can see from the examples above, these groups aren’t yet nailing total automation.

The Future of Machine Learning and PPC

The best way to picture how quickly machine learning technology will be optimized for PPC is to look at an unrelated sector—the automotive industry. In only a few short years, AI has become fairly commonplace for most car dealers.

This all started back in 2014 when Jaguar offered a car with a GPS that could plan routes according to a user’s driving style. Next up was Google with the creation of self-driving cars. It took Google nearly eight years to conduct tests of their self-driving cars, and there’s still more work to be done.

So, what does this have to do with PPC? First, it shows that the progress PPC experiences won’t be linear. At times progress may seem stagnant, and then a huge innovation may come to market. Next, it hints at the fact that more time must pass until major changes arise. AI will likely take a few years to mature to the point that it can independently carry out a company’s paid marketing pursuits.

Good news, PPC managers, you can take a big breath.

Whether you like it or not, the AI revolution is here. Algorithms become more effective at mimicking human logic every daywith no signs of slowing down.

In the future, AI and marketing will be nearly inseparable.

For now, though, people are still on top when it comes to running and managing paid advertising.

If you need help with your contemporary paid advertising campaigns, stick with a human-based team. Collaborate with people that create human-centric content and imagery in formats search engines love.

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