Getting the most from pay-per-click (PPC) ads is a priority for nearly every marketer. No doubt, the investment you channel into PPC ads is already sizeable. It’s also likely you’re looking to increase that budget. That’s for good reason: 82 percent of agencies and 79 percent of brands say PPC is a huge driver for their business, according to research from Hanapin Marketing.
Amplifying your PPC spending is probably a good move, given that the industry average return on Google PPC ads is nearly 2:1. Even so, how can you increase the odds that you’ll get the most out of every click from a user, as well as every dollar that you spend on PPC advertising? Taking advantage of artificial intelligence (AI)-powered tools is one way to increase the payout on your PPC ads. Even better, it could help you spend less time doing it.
Here’s a quick look at five ways AI can make your PPC advertising more effective and efficient:
Predict Behavior to Target Consumers in Real Time
AI can learn from marketing intelligence, including users’ purchase behavior and history, demographics, web browsing activity, device type, and much more. It can also be taught to understand the connection between keywords and campaigns. And by applying that knowledge, the AI can determine, much faster and even more intuitively than a human could, which web searches are the most likely to lead to conversions.
The future of AI in marketing includes predicting consumer behavior — potentially, even months in advance.
Adjust PPC Bids Autonomously
AI is quickly becoming an invaluable tool for marketers for managing PPC bids and budgets, uncovering new keyword opportunities from unstructured data sources, and even optimizing bids. AI can also be used to adjust PPC bids autonomously, helping marketers to avoid bidding too low for PPC ads that can connect them with qualified leads, or overbidding, which undermines ROI.
Building your own AI to automate PPC bid management may not be an option for your business right now, but it also may not be necessary. There are plenty of tools out there, many of them free, including from Bing and Google Ads. (Google is likely one place where you’re focusing a lot of your PPC spend anyway, seeing as it gets about 90 percent of U.S. web search volume.) Other compelling tools on the market include a new hourly bidding algorithm that allows Amazon advertisers to adjust their bids automatically in response to marketplace dynamics.
Keep in mind, though, that there are different levels of automation you can implement and there can be some downsides to automated bidding. In Google Ads, for example, you can choose either Enhanced CPC (basically enhanced manual bidding that allows the Google Ads algorithm to make adjustments to the manually set keyword bid) or several different fully automated strategies including Maximize Conversions, Target CPA, Target ROAS, Maximize Clicks, vCPM, and more.
While each strategy has its own unique potential advantages and risks, the big takeaway is that you can’t just set it and forget it. You still must monitor the results and keep a close eye on your spend, because automatic bids can overrun your budget or fail to meet your ROI targets. What looks optimal to Google’s algorithm does not automatically mean that it will meet your goals or expectations. So, yes, use automated bidding, but stay involved.
Pause Poorly Performing Ads
Marketers can use AI to make quick decisions about putting low-performing PPC ads on ice. If an ad isn’t working (i.e., it’s not meeting ROI expectations), you don’t want to continue bidding on it. Likewise, if you’re scoring bids but not clicks on a PPC ad, it can be a drag on your quality score, which also can be costly.
You want to maintain a high-quality score because it can help to decrease cost per conversion, or how much you pay when a user takes a desired action, such as making a purchase.
Suppress Retargeting for Offline Conversions
PPC marketers use AI-powered call tracking and analytics solutions like Invoca to connect inbound phone call-generated leads and sales to specific marketing campaigns and keywords. The insights the call tracking data provides also helps them to refine their retargeting efforts, especially when they marry that data with other information about prospects or customers that help add dimension to the user journey. Just as important, Invoca Signal AI helps them discover when conversions happen in real time, so they can then suppress retargeting of customers who have already converted, including those who made an offline purchase.
You don’t want to annoy (or potentially turn off) any customer whose business you’ve already earned. Plus, it’s not cost-effective to devote PPC ad budget to someone who is not likely to make another purchase from you anytime soon. As an example, if you sell cars, it’s unlikely a customer who bought a car from you this month will do so again next month — or even in the next six months. Integrating data about offline conversions from customer relationship management (CRM) or marketing automation systems with AI-powered insights from platforms like Invoca can lead to smarter retargeting strategies overall.
Make Ad Creative More Creative
AI is not yet a substitute for the human creative pros who develop advertising and marketing campaigns. But the technology can certainly make the most of their ideas for PPC ad copy, as Google’s Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) are proving. Marketers provide 15 different headlines and up to four different descriptions for an RSA, and then Google, with help from AI, takes it from there. Users are served up RSA ads that are the best fit for the terms they’re searching on. And there are literally tens of thousands of combinations that Google RSAs (still in beta) can generate based on those basic content inputs marketers provide.
While “spend more to make more” is essentially the mantra of marketing, there are ways to get more out of the money you already spend on your PPC ads with help from AI. And as the technology evolves, the possibilities will only expand.
Companies are already experimenting with chatbots to make PPC marketing campaigns more engaging, for example. Using AI as a tool to increase engagement can help reduce bounce rates and increase conversions. It can also improve lead quality by allowing marketers to gather more data about users in a conversational format — and right at the time they want to talk. And in time we are likely to see PPC marketers employing AI-powered virtual agents that use natural language generation and can serve as “ultra-intelligent” sales reps, able to answer consumers’ every query.
One thing is certain: Those virtual agents will need a solid “EQ” (emotional quotient) to be truly effective at engaging and delighting consumers, as research for a recent report from Invoca and Adobe suggests. EQ is the ability to recognize and respond to a person’s emotional state. And while more than one-fifth (22 percent) of consumers we surveyed for our report said “robot minds” already offer the best EQ, it will be a few years before we see AI capable of having dynamic and detailed discussions with consumers.