Anybody who works within the field of digital marketing probably knows what pay-per-click (PCC) advertising is but in its most simple form, PPC is a way of “buying” visitors to your site as opposed to attempting to earn those visits organically i.e. somebody searching on Google achieved through search engine optimisation (SEO). There are some great resources online that outline the benefits and strategy of both PPC and SEO but in this post, we look at how machine learning is changing the nature of PPC marketing.
What is pay-per-click
PPC is generally considering to be the process of bidding on keywords to ensure your ads rank higher in Google searches than your competitors. If you specialise in men’s clothing, you might be bidding on “men’s jeans” or “men’s boots” for example. When a user searches on Google, it performs complex algorithms to work out which ads are displayed, in which order and from which advertiser. As you pay for the keywords, digital marketing teams only want to bid on relevant ones to ensure a return on investment given that every time a customer clicks on the ad, it will cost them money.
In marketing teams, PPC has long been the focus and can be an incredibly time intensive task, using tools to find the most cost effective keywords for your business, analysing the results and continually going through the same process on a daily or even inter-daily basis in an exponentially growing digital world.
Optimising PPC using Machine Learning
Machine learning looks to automate the monotonous PPC tasks and enable digital marketing teams to think more about campaign ideas, design and creation rather than just deploying them and analysing the data.
The application of machine learning in PPC is to use existing data to spot trends and then execute the routine bidding tasks that would usually being carried out with human intervention. As the machines are fed more and more data, they become smarter and the campaigns are even better targeted at the right individuals and keyword terms for maximising return on investment.
Machine learning algorithms can sift through vast amounts of data to optimise bids at an auction level. This is known as smart bidding. The complex algorithms can analyse millions of signals, almost in real-time, to work out the likelihood of a specified target being hit. It would still be the role of the digital marketing team to create those targets and design the ads but the AI applications can optimise the rest such as enhancing cost per click or maximising conversions. It will do this by finding keywords to add to your account, filtering out negative keywords to save money, identify bids that could be increased for optimal performance and pause any bids that are underperforming.
A machine can carry out PPC tasks in minutes that would take a digital marketing team hours or even days in some cases and even then it might not be accurate. The Google Smart Bidding tool helps you build up these machine learning processes so you can focus purely on the strategy and insight from the results.
Machine learning doing the heavy lifting
Tools like Google Ad Strength take the machine learning and digital marketing integrations to the next level. From looking at historical keyword, search and competitor data, this technology can recommend the words to use in campaign headlines, descriptions and content. It has been reported that digital marketing teams using this tool get up to 15% more clicks from having the relevant content.
The new Google Adwords Express tool (it’s been around for a while but has gone through a big revamp) has even started to make things easier and can have campaigns set up in around 15 minutes taking all the pain out of PPC. This uses data to create effective ads based on only a few keywords and negates the need for the heavy lifting often outsourced to digital marketing agencies and third parties.
Machine learning has helped digital marketing teams automate previously monotonous and laborious work whilst creating more cost-effective campaigns for PPC. This means marketing teams have more time to focus on the strategy and insight of their roles rather than spending time getting too involved in the detail. Developing technology such as the Google Smart Bidding Tool and Adwords Express is only going to become a more prominent business asset as time goes on and the dynamics of PPC will continue to evolve.