Artificial intelligence (AI) has become part of our daily lives, powering navigation maps, face recognition, recommendation algorithms, chatbots, and even autocorrect. Given AI’s widespread adoption, it’s not surprising that it’s also revolutionizing the world of PPC, now more than ever.
As a general manager of a SAAS company my head is all around AI related topics recently, both from the user and tech company owner perspective. In this article, I cover the numerous benefits of using artificial intelligence in PPC, before exploring how AI can be used to enrich your PPC efforts in eleven practical ways.
What is AI in Digital Marketing?
First, let’s look at what AI is, and what it is in the context of digital marketing.
The Oxford Dictionary defines AI as the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.
In the context of digital marketing, AI computer systems are used to analyze large amounts of data at speed, to learn from data and reason with it and then make important decisions based on the analysis.
Subsequently, this powers things like targeting and defining audiences, automation of tasks, pattern recognition, optimization, data segmentation and content creation (and more).
It’s also important to note here that AI in advertising can do these things at a scale and speed that surpasses human capabilities making it extremely useful, and perhaps a little controversial and disruptive over the years.
How AI in advertising impacts the ads we see online
Does this mean advertisers can sit back and revel in the glory of machine learning? Probably not, but there are still lots of ways AI benefits advertising, helping to improve performance and productivity.
Let’s take a look at some of the main benefits of using AI in PPC in 2024.
Personalization and relevance
The first benefit of using AI in PPC is delivering highly personalized and relevant ads to a target audience. AI algorithms understand user behavior and what user interests and motivations are. This information is then used to deliver ads that are tailored to individual users, making them personalized and highly relevant.
AI can achieve this at scale, personalizing campaigns to very large audiences, something that would be almost impossible to do manually.
For example, with the help of AI, something as simple as serving ad headline and description combinations that will best resonate with a user based on their online interests becomes an automatic process. AI factors in how users with similar online interests have performed historically, to then predict what the best ad copy combination is for you.
AI-powered targeting in PPC allows advertisers to reach the right audience at the right time with precision. AI algorithms can identify patterns, behaviors, and characteristics that define target segments, beyond what humans are capable of doing.
This is achieved through data analysis and it’s one of the reasons why collecting as much account and campaign data as possible is so important. Data fuels AI in PPC and it opens up campaigns to more advanced targeting than manually building campaigns with chosen keywords and contextual audiences.
As an example, Performance Max campaigns use advanced targeting methods to find users who are most likely to convert. Using machine learning and audience signals, Performance Max campaigns are fully automated and conversion-focused and they can deliver ads across the entire Google network; Search, Display, Discover, YouTube, Shopping, Gmail and Maps.
Another benefit of AI in paid search advertising is the automation that’s involved. All PPC campaigns and processes that involve AI are more streamlined and simplified. In practical terms, this includes things like keyword research, bid management, ad scheduling, asset creation, and even targeting.
Automation plays a big role in PPC and the reason why it’s so beneficial for advertisers is because it saves time and expense. Advertisers can leave laborious and time-consuming tasks to the machine and instead focus on strategy and put their time into other areas. This also means it reduces operational costs.
Alongside this, AI can perform many of these tasks to a higher standard than humans, especially when automation stems from fast and powerful data analysis. However, in some cases, AI does need to be managed and steered by the advertiser, such as content creation.
How AI Can Be Used To Enrich Your PPC
We’ve looked at the three main benefits AI can have in PPC, so let’s now explore how AI is used in ads in 10 practical ways, all of which will enrich your PPC campaigns.
1. Understand How Generative AI is Improving Search
Generative AI is artificial intelligence that can create content, whether that’s text, images or other types of media, based on prompts. It can take what it has learned from the examples it’s been shown and create something entirely new based on that information.
The two main ways generative AI is used in this way are with large language models (LLMs), such as ChatGPT, and with generative AI being incorporated in search engines such as the roll-out of Google’s Bard.
Large language models (LLMs) are proving to be really powerful for text-based content creation, as well as providing answers to questions and in-depth insight into specific topics. Google Bard on the other hand, is the future of Google as a search engine and will enable users to search with longer tail keywords that are more specific, include more detail and allow users to follow up with more questions, instead of starting a whole new search.
With search evolving in this way, it’s also going to impact advertising and in particular, how and where advertisers can serve ads, making it important to stay informed from a PPC perspective.
2. Keyword Discovery and Organization
AI tools such as ChatGPT can be used in PPC to supercharge and automate the process of keyword research, a task that has traditionally been manual. Compared to Google’s Keyword Planner and other keyword research tools, ChatGPT has made the entire process much easier and more interactive.
For example, you can start by giving prompts regarding the industry, types of relevant keywords, competitors and relevant URLs. ChatGPT will then generate keywords based on this information and following that you can ask for the keyword research to be refined, expanded and grouped in a way that makes sense for you.
In the example below, I asked ChatGPT to help with keyword research for a dog-friendly UK holiday website, similar to booking.com. I provided some example keywords and ChatGPT then came up with some well-structured ideas:
I then further developed the keyword lists by asking follow-up questions. At this stage, it’s important to give wider context in terms of what’s relevant and what’s not.
In the example below I asked for more keywords relating to hotels and said that camping isn’t relevant for this business, so ChatGPT refined the list of keywords to the following:
Keyword research can be done at scale using ChatGPT and you can still input these keywords into more traditional tools to get a sense of search volumes and competition.
3. Speed Up Search Query Analysis With ChatGPT
It’s like doing keyword research but in reverse. Search query analysis can often be seen as a laborious task of going through large amounts of search query data to exclude non-relevant searches. It’s also a good way to find new keyword ideas and opportunities.
Using ChatGPT, it’s possible to ask the LLM to analyze search query lists for you and highlight search terms based on relevance or to group certain terms together.
In the following example, I’ve provided ChatGPT with a list containing hundreds of search queries and asked which queries are not relevant for the dog-friendly hotel business. ChatGPT then highlighted 21 queries for me to take a closer look at.
Some of the above are relevant, so it’s still important to provide ChatGPT with more prompts around what is relevant. However, immediately, I can see that search terms relating to booking.com, B&Bs, Premier Inn and Groupon are not quite right for this campaign, so a direct action I can take is to exclude those queries from the campaign.
Following that, I asked ChatGPT to review the search queries again and provide me with a list of queries that contain a place, which will be used to create a new location campaign:
Getting an extra pair of hands for search query analysis and automating the process of analyzing large amounts of data is a great way of using AI to enrich your PPC.
4. Write Compelling Ad Copy & Develop Relevant Ads
Another way to use AI in PPC is with ad copywriting, which is a form of AI content creation. Similar to the examples above, you can provide ChatGPT with a brief in terms of what you need and sit back while the ad copy is created.
Ad copy created by AI will still need to be checked and revised by humans, to make sure it is compelling, relevant and all of the information accurate. However, it’s still a really useful tool for quickly generating ideas, which can save the advertiser a lot of time and resources.
In the example below, I’ve asked ChatGPT to provide me with some callouts without giving any context into the USPs of the business, other than it is for ‘pet-friendly holidays’. I then asked for them to be revised so the callouts are a maximum of 25 characters. This is what ChatGPT came up with:
It’s a great starting point and some of them are relevant, while others are not quite. However, using what ChatGPT provided I was able to refine the 10 callouts by adding in some USPs that I know should be included.
Here’s my revised list of callouts:
- Pet-Friendly Stays
- All Breeds, All Sizes
- Trusted By Dog Lovers
- Dog Travel Experts
- All Dogs Welcome
- Money Back Guarantee
- Book With £30 Deposit
- Dog Friendly Deals
- Book Online In Minutes
- 1000s Of Properties
Overall, AI is great for coming up with text-based content and for PPC, it’s great at writing Google Ads ad copy.
5. Optimize Your Product Feed
Advertisers can also use ChatGPT to optimize their merchant center feed data, something that’s really important for e-commerce businesses that are running Shopping and Performance Max campaigns.
ChatGPT can help by filling in missing data, or by optimizing product titles and descriptions so they are better tailored for search, as well as tailoring the titles and descriptions based on the products or product pages themselves.
In the example below from Search Engine Journal, a spreadsheet containing product page URLs along with missing fields was provided to ChatGPT. ChatGPT was asked to fill in the missing details in the third column based on the landing page data.
The missing information that ChatGPT has provided could then be used to populate the product feed, helping to ensure the feed was accurate and optimized for Google Shopping.
6. Identify Relevant Audiences With ChatGPT
Audiences play an important role in PPC targeting and they are relevant for all campaign types, although some rely more heavily on audiences for targeting than others, such as Performance Max, Display and Video. As well as using your first-party audience data, it’s also a good idea to use in-market, affinity, and custom audiences, which can include keywords and URLs.
So how can ChatGPT be used for PPC audience development? ChatGPT can be used as a research assistant and provide insights into the specific interests and preferences of a particular consumer segment. As well as that, ChatGPT can propose relevant keywords that these consumers might use when conducting searches.
All of this information can then be used to create customized audience segments within Google Ads, helping advertisers better define their audiences to target and reach the desired audience. AI can take into account specific interests and search behavior, which can go beyond what advertisers might know about their target audience.
7. Use Conversational AI To Create Campaigns
There is a new Google Ads asset creation feature that uses Google Ads intelligence to start the process of creating campaigns on your behalf. This can be achieved with Google AI-driven chat that takes place in the Google Ads interface.
This feature was announced at Google Marketing Live 2023 and it works by taking the landing page an advertiser provides. Following that, Google AI will generate relevant and effective keywords, headlines, descriptions, images and other assets for your campaign, automating the process and saving an advertiser time.
Once the campaign and ai ads have been generated by Google, advertisers still have the ability to edit it before launching, meaning there is still a sufficient level of control over the campaign before it’s set live.
8. Use AI-Generated Ad Images With Google Product Studio
Another one of the announcements at Google Marketing Live 2023 was Google’s new Product Studio tool. This new tool will allow advertisers to create AI generated ads by generating images that can then be used as creative assets in PPC campaigns.
This quick-fix solution should save time and also arm PPC managers with more capabilities surrounding image assets, something that is known for causing delays due to the need for design teams and design resources.
9. AI-powered Assets That Target Search Queries
Another announcement from Google Marketing Live 2023 is AI-powered asset creation that will make search ads target specific search queries. When this is rolled out it will be able to generate assets tailored to individual users based on their intent and search query.
This will mean better-tailored experiences that are of greater relevance to individuals, rather than showing all users the same assets.
For example, if a campaign has 10 sitelink assets and 15 image assets attached to it that are all in rotation, without AI they will be optimized based on overall performance. However, with AI-powered assets that target specific search queries, assets will instead take into account what someone has searched for, their interests and online behavior, before choosing the best asset for that user.
If a user searches for a particular product characteristic, whether it’s color, size, style or price, the assets that are served will best target that search.
10. Use New Campaign Types and Smart Bidding
AI and machine learning have been at the forefront of new Google Ads campaign types and bidding strategies for a while now. From the launch of Performance Max campaigns and the switch to data-driven attribution, to conversion-focused bidding strategies such as ‘maximize conversions’ and ‘maximize conversion value’.
Using new Google Ads ai campaign types and bidding strategies will enrich your PPC with AI. This is why it’s really important for advertisers to start adopting them, or at least start experimenting with them.
All of these elements are powered by AI and use data and machine learning to generate the best possible results and they have been proven to outperform more traditional methods of managing Google Ads campaigns.
11. Activate 'Ads Power Pairing'
Mix the tried and true with the new by combining AI powered campaigns and targeting with traditional campaigns, like Performance Max and Search ads. Google refers to this as “Ads Power Pairing” as it will allow you to boost your conversions across the whole of Google.
Running your regular Search campaigns will ensure that you continue to get conversions from places you know it’s working. Adding in PMax campaigns will allow you to explore new territory with audiences you wouldn’t have been able to find on your own.
Google also suggests setting up your Search campaigns with broad match, which uses AI to find queries related to your keywords and phrases, rather than sticking to exact matches. So if a user types in the keywords “nail salon services” they might also get results for the keywords “manicures and pedicures”.
If you’ve been sticking to one kind of campaign type or keyword matching options, then now is a great time to branch out and discover how AI can advance your PPC campaigns.
AI in advertising can be used in numerous ways to enrich your PPC efforts, whether it’s enhancing productivity or powering campaign optimization with machine learning. The three main benefits of using AI in PPC are the ability to personalize and increase relevance, the advanced targeting capabilities and finally automation.
However, that doesn’t mean the role of humans has been replaced but rather our role is changing with the evolution of AI. AI can be used to the advantage of advertisers but advertisers still need to oversee campaign and content creation and feed the AI with context and data since data is the key to successful AI input.
For AI to work effectively, the data that it’s being fed with needs to be accurate, up to date and plentiful, which is controlled by humans…for now.