Smart Ads Only Threaten Agencies That Don’t Deliver On Strategy
August 28, 2018 | Contributed by: Alex Porter
Is automation and machine learning eliminating the need for agencies and resellers? It’s a fair question. In Greg Sterling’s recent post, he examines it in the context of Google’s Smart Ads, which enable automated ad campaign creation, management, and optimization for small businesses. The short answer is no, automation and machine learning are not existential threats to agency services. But that’s dependent on the experience and capabilities of the individual agencies themselves.
Are Agencies Static Commodities?
The idea that has always safeguarded agencies from DIY ad solutions is that agencies aren’t static commodity services. They are active marketing experts that specialize in embracing and mastering industry changes. If an agency is simply reselling basic AdWords or Facebook capabilities, for example, then yes, automation becomes a scary thought as your “expertise” can be quickly replaced.
But if an agency is looking at AdWords and Facebook as only parts of a greater strategy that includes attribution, organic, reputation management, social media, content, and design, then automation becomes an opportunity to save time and energy on tasks that were previously done manually. More than that, that time and energy can now be focused on processes that can’t be automated (for now) – creative and strategic leadership.
How Does the Agency Survive?
Let’s say Google’s Smart Ads satisfies all expectations, automating all ad copy creation and testing, attribution analysis and adjustments, bidding strategies, and budget adjustments for SMBs. This could be considered a worst-case scenario for agencies and resellers, but only if they aren’t adjusting their service model – a reality that agencies have always dealt with.
For agencies to stay in business, they must find the sweet spot between automation and human expertise. It’s understood that technology, including some level of SaaS functionality, is required for SMBs and franchise owners to effectively scale their marketing efforts. But it’s only when combined with the best strategic direction that these efforts can reach their full potential. As agencies learn more about products like Google’s Smart Ads, they should be focused on building tools and strategies on top of these innovations, not in opposition to them.
The value of the agency has always been in strategic guidance based on an advanced understanding of the tools and technology available. If the agency is to survive, automation and machine learning shouldn’t threaten that position, but instead solidify it. As automation increases task efficiency, the agency should be able to allocate even more resources toward their lifeblood – finding innovative solutions and communicating those solutions to their partners.