What are the best ways to get your business out in front of the millions of users who conduct searches every day? Search marketers have been grappling with this question since the early days of search, and evolutions in the field of paid search continually present new challenges as well as offering additional tools for marketers to wield.
Generative AI has the potential to be a major new tool in search marketers’ arsenals, but determining when and how to apply it most effectively is still a challenge. For thoughts on how generative AI is shaping paid search and what it will mean for marketers, we turned to three experts: Clark Boyd, CEO and Co-Founder of Novela; Emma Welland, Co-Founder of House of Performance; and Christos Stavropoulos, Head of Product Strategy at BrightBid.
Ad copy, keyword lists, scripting, but not necessarily new ways of working just yet
“Marketing leaders are experimenting with generative AI right now to find ways to increase efficiency and improve campaign performance,” says Clark Boyd, CEO and Co-Founder of Novela, a simulation-based learning company that offers search marketing training. “However, few have found ways to integrate the tech into a new way of working yet.
“For instance, we see marketers using generative AI to create ad variations for use in A/B testing. Others are using it to develop keyword lists or automate data analysis.”
This world is just opening up within paid search.
– Emma Welland, Co-Founder at House of Performance
Indeed, industry blogs and press have been quick to point out how ChatGPT may be useful for search marketers doing PPC, such as Search Engine Land’s list of 15 strategic prompts, which starts with advice on producing viable A/B tests for responsive search ads (RSAs) and includes tips for landing page optimisation and conducting competitor research.
“This world is just opening up within paid search,” says Emma Welland, Co-Founder at House of Performance, a performance marketing agency. Other than a benefit to ad copy production, where generative AI can offer headline and description suggestions for “even the most niche areas”, Welland points to scripts as a particularly valuable use case. “Generative AI provides us with the opportunity to leverage things like scripts without having the coding experience.”
She notes that scripts have “fallen out of favour in recent times”, but that the rise of automation in PPC along with generative AI have laid the groundwork for a revival. “The move to automation has provided an opportunity for successful search marketers to use scripts to interrogate data and understand where ads are appearing. Marketers that are not using scripts are quickly falling behind.”
So far, most leaders are finding that this technology doesn’t remove the need for human input…
– Clark Boyd, CEO and Co-Founder at Novela
Boyd cautions that, “So far, most leaders are finding that this technology doesn’t remove the need for human input – rather, it displaces it. Left to its own devices, so to speak, generative AI will produce lots of quite good content. Yet that is rarely good enough for a brand. And of course, it will sometimes create content that fails to clear even that low bar.”
In order to achieve “reliably excellent output” with generative AI, he notes that both human feedback and high-quality data inputs are required. However, “not all marketers are trained to work in this way. In truth, the marketing industry requires reskilling to take advantage of AI, not just upskilling.”
Generative AI as all-purpose assistant
Christos Stavropoulos is Head of Product Strategy at BrightBid, an adtech company that uses AI for search ad optimisation. He agrees that the quality of training data and the way that the AI is trained will define a company’s success with generative AI.
“If you don’t train [generative AI] well, it will give you very generic, not very accurate responses. But if you have the ability to train the tool to be more accurate in what you as a company want to say, then it can become quite powerful.”
I would say that each and every company needs to see, themselves, how this tool could help them amplify [their work].
– Christos Stavropoulos, Head of Product Strategy at BrightBid
Ultimately, Stavropoulos believes that any organisation can benefit from using generative AI for paid search, but not necessarily in a set way. “It could be a baseline [for ad copy], but it could also be an addition … you [might] have three to five tasks within a project, and you can use it as an assistant to accelerate the speed of some tasks,” he says.
“I would say that each and every company needs to see, themselves, how this tool could help them amplify [their work].”
As Google rolls out more features, generative AI is set to grow, even if the hype is subsiding
Despite a recent increase in scepticism towards generative AI that has followed on the heels of the hype prompted by ChatGPT’s release, Stavropoulos doesn’t believe that generative AI is going anywhere. “The one thing that is for sure is that AI is here,” he says.
“The hype from the last six months is blowing over a little bit, but that happens with all things. It will start trending upwards again once we get more and more accurate models to perform the job we asked them to do. So, I don’t think it will disappear.”
The release of new features from Google and Bing will force a more radical rethink of how campaigns are created, delivered, and measured.
– Clark Boyd
Search marketers are facing more and more decisions about whether and how to use generative AI as Google rolls out feature after feature incorporating it – from creating Google Ads assets via AI-driven chat to generating images and text for Performance Max campaigns.
“The release of new features from Google and Bing will force a more radical rethink of how campaigns are created, delivered, and measured,” predicts Novela’s Clark Boyd. “These features will be central to Shopping first of all, where there is a huge amount of input data available and rapid interactions with lots of users.
“The challenge for marketers will be keeping up with the pace of change and interpreting their campaign performance effectively.”
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