AdWords Artificial Intelligence: Because Google Said So…

By April 13, 2014AdWords Tips, Blog

Because Google Said So…

AdWords Artificial Intelligence is often used on default campaigns. It’s when users have relied on Google to make some of the most important decisions for them. Time has shown Google is quick to give the system more and more control over how an advertisers investment is spent – this in my opinion conflicts with target marketing value propositions.

The questions I often get asked when I offer to help businesses with Google AdWords are really just me being given responsibility over the most important decisions:

“Can you…”

“Shall I…”

“What if…”

The funny side is when I ask (sometimes difficult) questions and get responses which suggest a decision was never made or when a Google notification / case study is used to justify actions:

“I don’t know”

“But x told me to do it”

“Because Google said so”

The top response is ok, the second depends on x, the third one is my favourite – artificial intelligence.


AdWords Artificial Intelligence: A Few Examples

Without thinking too far outside the box, how much power do you think a receiver of your investment has when telling you how best to spend your money. Moreover – how do you feel about handing control over decisions to the machine that makes all the transactions?

I will look at some of the artificial controls advertisers give to Google without thinking twice for themselves or the investment beforehand.

Search & Display Select

adwords search and display networks

Search & Display Select is a recent addition to AdWords.  Google says (advertisers found) cost per click prices at 89% less then search and 35% lower cost per purchase after both search and display networks were combined using select. Google also refer to a business who saw a 22% increase in conversions when switching to this amazing network option. In short, it simply finds opportunities to spend your investment on display. Previous to switching, campaigns might have had out of control display targeting or the account was not spending your investment on display at all.

1) Why not keep search and display split and use CPA bidding / Display campaign optimizer instead?

2) If advertisers did start with this on a first-time campaign, how can you increase stats that started from 0?

3) When accounts use similar keywords that are competitive on search to then select display sites (possibly similar) won’t click prices go up very rapidly?


Automatic Display Placement

This method of display advertising is probably the most common. Google says it “uses contextual targeting to match your ads to relevant placements based on your keyword list, among other factors”.  Simply finds sites to spend your investment on.

1) Why is not knowing the site you are bidding to be on more valuable then picking a site?

2) Is the system better designed to pick a site and then use contextual targeting to find the best pages within a site?

3) If you think Google waits for bids to be competitive enough to appear on high quality sites, your wrong – it will show them on almost any youtube video, admob app or display site that accepts your bid. The launch of Display Select indicates automatic placement is not effective without additional thought.

Automatic Bidding

AdWords Automatic bidding

Google says “Automatic bidding allows you to put your bidding on autopilot with the goal of getting the most possible clicks within your budget.” and the same support article compares this type of bidding against managing individual keyword bids. This simply is in control of bidding higher or lower for you and not everyone starts with individual keyword bids.

1) Is the marketing goal set to getting the most clicks as opposed to conversions?

2) If the bid keeps changing to get the most clicks in-line with increasing competition – will it achieve a fixed ad rank formula/calculation result?

3) If getting the most clicks means being on the top of the first page with a new keyword, will you not pay more without having forecast or trying to achieve profitability ?


The Opportunities Tab

It’s questions in the AdWords exam related to this tab that I always struggle on (because I never click on it). Google says “The Opportunities tab looks for opportunities for you, so that you can focus on making decisions instead of conducting research.” . It simply suggests keywords, bids, negatives and more – suggestions that a good researcher just does not require.

1) If Google gave the best opportunities to all similar businesses – would it not increase competition and cost (for everyone) and how would this tab know your real goals?

2) Making decisions is based on good research – I really don’t understand what Google means in their example.

3) Adding 100s of broad match keywords is not the best idea if you don’t have the budget and ad groups to accommodate them or be found for automatically found synonyms.


Optimize Ad Rotation For Clicks or Conversions

Adwords ad rotation

This default setting is one of the worst, Google says ” The Optimized algorithm sends ads into auctions based on principles of statistical analysis.” But when selecting the best option (rotate evenly)  Google notifies advertisers their ads may not perform (below the belt).

1) If the user clicked an advert with no real interested and did not convert, with one setting Google will show this ad more then another.

2) If users had no purchase intent but used the tracked contact form to apply for a job, it will show more often with no attention paid to real life result.

3) A fair a/b split test will always need a 50/50 split over a measured period of time, artificial optimization is open to future misunderstandings as the system becomes an extraneous variables and percentage served rates are often imbalanced.

AdWords Express

Google says “AdWords Express automatically manages where and when your ads will appear in your local area. No keywords to choose, no ongoing maintenance.”. So, if you are a small local business you should let Google spend your money for you – all you do is write an ad and put the money in with 0 control over tweaks/settings.

1) If you were a local business with little or no investment – is AdWords right for you? If it is, would you not want control over every penny or cent spent?

2) When you activate the Express set-up how will you add negative keywords (people researching or looking for jobs) if the system won’t let you?

3) Have you considered how much investment is lost vs. hiring an agency? Do you really need to lose investment and have no control over improving the campaign before you realise letting the person who takes money make all your decisions might not be profitable…


Why AdWords Artificial Intelligence Makes It Difficult To Find A Good Account Manager

In short people need to get ready for what seems a quite controlled future. Google seems to be tricking everyone into using it’s newest ‘spend all your money and let us find conversions for you’ features to the extent digital agencies are being sold case studies that blind them from alternative (more controlled) settings.

  • Case studies act like marketing – if it works for one advertiser, digital agencies think it will work for everyone by magic.
  • People expect the amazing results Google’s experienced friends boast about (blind following), they start using them on new campaigns which may or may not yet have a QS set or any previous stats.
  • Advertisers understand business, agencies understand marketing but finding those who have a background in data analysis is often difficult. A combination of all three often leads to high quality management.
  • Automated Settings are all positive when used in the right situation and evidence shows it will benefit the campaign – the more control you give to the machine, the less control you have over how your investment is spent.

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