Google Is Using AI To Construct Ads
Written by Alex Armstrong   
Thursday, 29 March 2018

Now we know what Google wants AI for - to make more ads. Well it is one of many things, but one we might not have thought of. Adwords users have been getting emails telling them to expect new ads in their groups and if they don't disable them they will start showing after 14 days.

Google Adwords lets its users submit display ads in groups that share sets of common parameters such as keywords. The case being made is that the more variations of ads there are in a group the better their performance but manually creating ad variations is hard work.

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After a selective beta trial late last year, Google now seems to be rolling out an AI-based system to create ad variations for you. Starting on April 29th ad suggestions will start appearing on the Adwords Recommendations page. Advertisers are being sent emails explaining the change, but some of the wording is vague. The first sentence suggests that you can manually apply or dismiss the generated ads, but later on it is explained that they will be automatically enabled after 14 days unless you manully remove them. It also states that an email notification will be sent for each generated ad, but it then points out that this depends on how your account is configured.

There is currently little information on the nature of the AI being used, but the ad suggestions web page says:

"To help improve performance, a combination of human review and machine learning is used to create high-quality ad suggestions. Relevant content from your account is used to create ad suggestions include your existing ads, extensions, and landing page. Google also uses additional signals such as keywords and targeting in order to optimize the ad copy."

It is to be hoped that the manual supervision is tight because it is quite possible that an AI will construct a perfectly reasonable ad variation that is unsuitable in the wider context of the advertiser's business. Issues could include using trademarks or phrases that are associated with a competitor. This is subtle territory and getting it wrong is easy if you don't know the history of the product.

It is possible to disable ad suggestions altogether, but at the very least advertisters should make sure they turn on email notifications or visit the Adwords site regularly - at least once every two weeks.

The idea of automatically generating ads is clearly good for Google and is likely to increase its revenue. It might even be good for the advertiser, but why default to auto-enable after 14 days? This is surely dangerous and not worth any revenue gain on Google's part. AI is getting better, but it is unlikely to be trustworthy in such a complex domain so soon.

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 29 March 2018 )