Google’s AI-Driven Ad Units Preview the Future of Digital Marketing

Yesterday Google introduced “Auto Ads” for publishers. This is an AdSense ad unit — not an ad for automobiles — that is largely automated, hence “auto.”

Publishers make some basic decisions of the types of ads they’d like to run on their sites and Google uses machine learning to substantially automate the rest. Here’s the pitch:

Auto ads use machine learning to make smart placement and monetization decisions on your behalf, saving you time. Place one piece of code just once to all of your pages, and let Google take care of the rest.

This is the future. This type of ad automation is also on display with Google’s Universal App Campaigns:

Unlike most AdWords campaigns, you don’t design individual ads for Universal App campaigns. Instead, we’ll use your ad text ideas and assets from your app’s store listing to design a variety of ads across several formats and networks. All you need to do is provide some text, a starting bid and budget, and let us know the languages and locations for your ads. Our systems will test different combinations and show ads that are performing the best more often, with no extra work needed from you.

Universal App Campaigns use existing content and assets to create and optimize ads across multiple channels on behalf of the advertiser-developer. This is also a version of what’s happening with AdWords Express, which has reportedly improved significantly in the recent past, with the benefit of improvements in back end optimization.

Google Analytics’ “automated insights” is another machine-learning powered development (launched in 2016) that points to a future in which human account reps and marketers do less or different things than they do today.

Facebook is equally doing a great deal with machine learning and AI around advertising. Its “objective based” advertising approach relies heavily on these technologies to optimize ads. And there are more examples.

The term “AI” may still be aspirational to some degree (vs. “machine learning”) but technology is changing and will continue to change digital marketing, perhaps radically. Will it help agencies and marketing companies that serve SMBs become more efficient and profitable? Or will most marketing jobs now performed by people be managed by machine, eliminating the need for those roles? And will more accessible and reliable SMB self-service in some form create less reliance on marketing providers and agencies?

How should local marketing service providers prepare now for the AI-ads future? We’ll be discussing all the implications with speakers from Microsoft, Google and others at LSA18. This will be a critical session people won’t want to miss. 

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