How to Prepare for Artificial Intelligence in Advertising with Google Smart Creatives

How to prepare for AI in advertising with Google Smart Creatives

How to Prepare for AI in Advertising – Part One

This is part one of our two-part series discussing how to prepare for artificial intelligence in advertising. Keep reading or skip ahead to part two and learn about Google Smart Bidding straight-away.


To use a dachshund analogy…

Your ears either prick up with interest and attention as soon as you hear the AI acronym or they flatten down in fear and submission at the mere mention of artificial intelligence.

Either way, and whether you realise it’s happening or not, artificial intelligence is going to play an increasing role in your personal and professional life over the coming years.

As advertisers, marketing managers and business owners we’ll find that being adequately prepared for this change could make the difference between phenomenal success or a spectacular failure. Our most important tool in surviving and thriving in an artificial intelligence enhanced workplace is knowledge.

To blindly accept artificial intelligence as a blanket positive without understanding how to effectively implement it we are opening ourselves up to a disaster. Similarly to ignore this seismic shift and keep going with ‘tried and trusted’ techniques then we’re not only giving competitors an unnecessary advantage but we’re also ignoring our customers’ changing needs.

Artificial Intelligence in Google Ads

Google owns the internet! Ok, that might be an exaggeration 😉

Many companies own significant chunks of the internet and we as users of these chunks are arguably the ultimate stakeholders. However, there’s no denying that Google properties do account for a very large share of internet activity. Activity which is being converted into data and data that is being correlated and presented as knowledge.

Google has seven core properties from which it can gather data including Google Search, YouTube, Gmail, the Play Store, Chrome, Google Drive and Maps.

With over one billion users these properties are always collecting information. Google uses machine learning to convert this information into buyer intent signals which they believe can allow them to show the right ad to the right user at the right time.

Google Machine Learning

There are four factors which advertisers give Google to leverage machine learning:

  • Audience – who you are advertising to
  • Creative – the message you show your audience
  • Attribution – how you measure performance
  • Bidding – how much you are willing to pay

Google now provides two Smart Solutions which use machine learning to enhance the creative and bidding elements of advertising. These Smart Creatives and Smart Bidding are designed to save time and improve campaign performance.

This blog will examine Smart Creatives with a future blog to follow on Smart Bidding.

Google Smart Creatives

Responsive Display Ads

In September 2018 Google rolled out Responsive Display ads.

With traditional Google display ads, you created about five to twenty different-sized versions of a static or rich media image ad before uploading it to Google. These ads then showed up across the Google Display Network of websites depending on the targeting.

Responsive Display Ads are different.

With responsive display, you upload up to 15 images and logos plus 5 headlines and 20 different text descriptions. Google then selects which images and text to combine for the given audience, in their given Google Display Network location, at that precise time.

Google is selecting and automatically resizing your images which means that your ads are now eligible to appear in up to 1,500 more ad slots than was previously available to them. In addition, rather than having to A/B test your ads Google is now doing the testing for you, all the while reducing your reliance on in-demand graphic designers.

Overall Google Display Ads offer a massive opportunity over traditional display – however, that doesn’t mean that this is the option you should always go for.

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Perhaps you’re running a campaign across different platforms and would like to keep your creative style consistent. Or perhaps you just want to do something creative that really makes you stand out from the competition.

When you do decide to go for responsive display ensure you add the full quota of the highest quality images and texts eligible to give the machine the most to work with. Also, opt for the custom colour branding options to ensure your brand identity remains true.

Responsive Search Ads

Responsive search ads have not yet been officially launched to all Google advertisers.

In 2018 responsive search was rolled out in a beta testing phase for some advertisers and all going well is likely to be launched to all advertiser in late 2019. Essentially these work the same way as responsive display ads. You give Google a selection of up to 15 headlines and four descriptions and then Google decides which to show and in what order.

To a degree, Google is already doing this with expanded text search ads which first came out in 2016. Since then Google has further expanded the length of search ads, however unlike with the old ads you can no longer be certain that all your text will be shown.

The advantage again with responsive search is that Google is doing the A/B testing for you – thus saving you time. However, unlike with responsive display, with search, you don’t have the added advantage of visibility to vastly more people in vastly more places. Your ads will still appear in the same place and pretty much as often as they did before.

Overall, at Dachshund Digital we have found that responsive search ads do not have any clear advantage over expanded text ads in their current format. But like all automation, this is a space to watch particularly when used in conjunction with Smart Bidding.

Dynamic Search Ads

Dynamic Search Ads take automation several steps further.

With this search ad format, Google scans your website pages and analyses the search queries to create the ad text dynamically – with no direct input from you. Google then selects the ad landing page that it feels is most relevant to the search query.

This concept is probably enough to send most content marketers screaming for the hills. However, if your website content is on-point and your brand is right for it, then Dynamic Search Ads might not be such a crazy idea.

With Dynamic Search, keywords, the underpinning concept of Google’s search engine, are taken out of the picture. Your ad can appear for more search terms. If you were to fully trust the machine your ad can appear for more relevant searches too.

We would advise most advertisers to stay away from Dynamic Search Ads.

With Dynamic Search Ads the risks of sub-par copy, inappropriate targeting and overspend far outweigh any potential benefits. However, some experienced advertisers might find value in running dynamic ads on a limited basis alongside their regular search campaigns. This would be solely from a research perspective to identify any content gaps. These gaps can then be filled with your regular Expanded Text Ad campaigns.

Other Artificial Intelligence Enabled Google Campaigns

Aside from the above listed Smart Creative campaign types Google also offers Smart Shopping, Universal App and Local campaigns. All of these campaigns use automated approaches to help drive online sales, app downloads or store visits as relevant.

As with most artificial intelligence in advertising these campaign types and Smart Shopping in particular work best when they have a lot of data to work with.

One of the other factors that lead to the success of Smart Creative campaigns is time.

Artificial Intelligence needs time to learn. So don’t make any changes to your campaigns for at least a few weeks after putting them live. This is something that can be a challenge for many of us always on, always optimising digital marketers 😉

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Conclusion: Artificial Intelligence in Advertising Part One

To prepare for AI in advertising Google Smart Creatives is a fantastic place to start.

Google’s machine learning allows for infinitely more frequent and more refined creative testing than you could ever do manually. Responsive Display gives you the opportunity to get your brand seen by vastly more people. Responsive and dynamic search hint at exciting future opportunities that have yet to be realised.

The world is changing, consumers are changing and, if we are to stay ahead, we as advertisers must also change. We must learn how to work with the machine. We should ensure that our businesses are ready for a future where artificial intelligence will undoubtedly play a large part.

How to Prepare for AI in Advertising:   Smart Creatives | Smart Bidding