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When Will Manual Campaign Optimization Become Counterproductive?

I have a very interesting question to answer today.

It came from Dan. He wrote in and said:

“Can you see a future where Google has optimized its analysis of individual campaign intent and its automated features, to a point that manual operation of campaigns could actually be counterproductive to success?”

I’ve kind of touched on this question in a previous episode, but I wanted to dig in. I thought this was a really interesting question. It is something that is talked about a lot where people are wondering if there will actually be a need for people to manage campaigns, whether we’re talking about a business owner managing their own campaign, or someone from a marketing agency managing a campaign. 

Is that human element always going to be necessary?

Or is there actually a future where manually touching anything in a campaign is going to be counterproductive?

First of all, it’s true right now that (depending on the person, depending on who is manually operating the campaign), yes, there are people operating campaigns, and just by them touching a campaign, it is counterproductive to success. They are writing horrible ads, they are targeting things the wrong way. And they’re actually so bad at doing this that it would be better to maybe run a smart campaign and just let Google’s system do everything. 

So that already is the case now (depending on the person), manual operation of campaigns is actually counterproductive to success. 

But let’s look at it from the perspective of the best of the best. Which is really what the question is getting at. 

Can the best human do better than the best machine? 

This is where the question becomes interesting, right? And I think it’s it’s most interesting because, yes, Google’s systems are advancing and advancing. But there are still multiple businesses and advertisers involved. 

Yes, the best computer in the world now can beat the best human chess player, it can beat the best human Go player, right? (Which was big news a few years ago.) But when you put those computers against each other, what happens? Well, I guess I don’t know exactly what happens. But that’s how computers learn. That’s how the computer learned how to play Go good enough that it would beat the best human player. The computer played millions of games against itself in order to become the best. 

So with Google ads, you are having these computers. If the computer is running one company’s campaign and also running another company’s campaign, they’re going against each other right? Both of those campaigns cannot be the best. Even if you have the best computer running those campaigns. You can’t have two of the best campaigns running side by side, one of those has to be the best. 

So either one of those computers is going to win out. Or there needs to be a “human element” making adjustments that go above and beyond what the best computer is capable of. 

And I think that’s really what it comes down to: there has to be that human element.

Because if it’s just computers against each other, when one of them becomes the best, the other one is quickly going to be able to become better than it (and back and forth). 

And this can happen millions of times in the same day, right? It’s not like this is taking months or years to happen. These computers are so good now that it’s happening almost instantly, where they’re able to learn from one another and become better and better. 

So I believe that (AI) is not the element that’s going to lead to continual success with Google ads. I think it really is going to be the human element because that’s the only variable we’re going to control. And yes, there are things that we’re going to turn to the computer to do. But if everyone’s turning to the computer to do the same things, then there’s no competitive advantage. 

The competitive advantage is going to come into areas where:

  • We still have control. 
  • We can set up different types of targeting. 
  • We can set up different types of exclusions. 
  • We can write different ads.
  • We can send traffic to different types of landing pages. 

These are all things that are within human control. 

Now, it is possible that that type of control would be taken away from us at some point.

Google largely did that with App campaigns a few years ago, where you basically couldn’t change anything in the campaign. You could tell Google which app you wanted to advertise, and how much you wanted to spend, and that was about it. 

It’s possible that that could happen with other types of campaigns. And that would be a sad day. But I hope that’s not going to happen. I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon. I think there are enough elements within these campaigns, where it’s in Google’s best interest to let people have that control. Because that means they are going to be able to have more success than the competitor. They are going to want to keep spending more and more money on the Google Ads platform. 

If you have your own take on this. I would love to hear from you about it.

If you want to send an email to [email protected],  I think this is always an interesting issue to discuss. 

What’s the bottom line?

I think as we see more and more developments with Google ads and how the artificial intelligence works within that platform, it’s definitely not going away. The artificial intelligence is here to stay, and it’s only going to get better and better. So it’s gonna be really important to keep an eye on how that works and think more about how we, as intelligent humans, can work with the artificial intelligence and not ignore it, not try to work against it. Work with it so that in a competitive environment (which is what Google Ads is), we can use our expertise and our knowledge to still come out on top. 

Thanks again, Dan, for the question.

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