Make Your SEM Campaign Work Harder for You

With artificial intelligence helping to create smarter and more efficient PPC campaigns, make sure your strategy evolves and that you’re seeking the right things from your SEM partner.

Those of us close to the industry have heard panicked cries about the emergence of AI and fears about its potential impact on Search Engine Marketing, and, frankly, our role as search professionals. So, what’s the role of human judgement in the search equation?

Humans are Still Indispensable

Let’s address what I hope remains obvious. While data (and the ability to crunch it at inhuman speeds) is the key to making any strategy actionable, setting strategy, then navigating towards its execution, is still a human-needed task.

The reality is, the best campaigns are likely a seamless blend of humans and machines working together. Agencies and their people develop the strategy, then AI tirelessly digests massive data sets at an expeditious rate, resulting in the best campaign.

Don’t Resist AI, Embrace It

I see too many PPC strategists sticking to their guns, doing things the way they’ve always done them, and resisting the opportunity presented by AI.

I constantly see campaigns that appear to have been constructed in 2008. It’s surprising in an industry perpetually changing and always pushing innovation. These campaigns are being overly segmented which restricts the large data sets necessary for AI to provide real insights and learnings.

One place strategists can see an immediate benefit from AI is query mining. It wasn’t long ago that strategists poured over huge data sets of all the search phrases people to identify best prospects and phrases for your negative key word list. At times, it could be enlightening (dare I say even fun), but this was an extremely time-consuming and arduous practice. Machine learning has made this task much easier and less strenuous.

A more recent example and close variation is segmenting campaigns by keyword match type on closely related keywords. There have been numerous updates (typically very publicized) by publishers to improve predicting the intent of searches, making this practice unnecessary. Worse, it can even be a mistake to manually micro-manage campaigns, not allowing the machine learning platforms access to large data that it needs to provide insights and accurate decision-making.

Ensure You’re Paying for the Right Skills

As the shift towards automation continues, the question is where should agencies and PPC experts focus their efforts. - and which efforts clients should be paying for.  It’s true that automation means maintaining a search account takes fewer hours. Strategy remains vitally important, as does a knowledge of how to use AI most effectively. Here are some things I would look for a search agency to do.

Automation has cut down the time considerably to successfully test new components of a campaign. So, I’d recommend testing with purpose, using this new-found efficiency to test ad copy that plays on the recall from other tactics (social or digital) versus dynamic keyword insertion or brand messaging. You may also want to test landing pages that can capitalize on different micro moments of your consumer’s journey.

And don’t forget about SEO. It’s a place where you can watch (nearly in real time) how potential customers go about seeking out your client. This isn’t a trivial thing. How people are searching can shed a lot of light on how customers are thinking about your client and their industry. This can inform how to drive more traffic through branded keywords, category terms, or specific product names.

In conclusion, the emergence of AI is not the threat some search strategists perceive it to be. In fact, it’s quite the opposite - it’s an opportunity to have your campaigns perform better and to test and learn about new approaches in a much more expeditious way. Whether it’s you or your agency doing search marketing, just be certain you’re putting effort in the right places, focusing on strategy and not micro-managing campaigns.