Is PPC Advertising Dying?

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I’ve been hearing murmurs for a while… Is PPC dying? Is the PPC advertising industry going to die off with the rise of AI in marketing?

My take is no, probably not. At least, not in a very predictable sense.

I think the uncertainty and fear of this notion stems from a misunderstanding of AI, specifically machine learning.

PPC historically has served more of a tactical purpose for clients who simply did not know how to operate paid advertising platforms like Google Ads) The agency would be told what the client was trying to sell, and they’d set up all of the campaigns and have their hands in every part of optimization — from manually setting bids and budgets to choosing how to serve ads (rotate evenly vs optimize for clicks).

As time has gone on, Google has increasingly built Google Ads to be smarter at handling some of the decisions for us. It used to be the case that you could not set up a campaign and just let it run on its own without losing a lot of money on wasted clicks. While this still happens, it’s to a lesser degree. This is because Google has created automations that didn’t exist several years ago.

Some examples:

All of these enhancements are due to the power of machine learning. This is a wonderful thing!

What we should be excited about it is that we as marketers get to evolve our role with this process, too. Gone are the days of dealing with every bit of account minutiae by hand – as are the days of Google Ads being our only viable PPC option.

Consequently, the demand on agencies like ours to take the lead as strategists is ever-increasing. We don’t default to running Google Ads anymore. We do research across all PPC options to find the right mix for a client. We have to build a comprehensive PPC strategy first. Goals have to be defined and expectations set ahead of time. PPC used to be a machine game; now it’s a feat of optimal strategy.

My call to marketers is to decide where you’re able to grow. If strategy isn’t your strong suit, it’s probably in your best interest to learn how to work with the data. Learn measurement and how to capture and read relevant information for the client. If data isn’t your passion either, lean more on your creative side. Take your time to do more market research for the client to craft some beautiful headlines and image sets that can be rotated in for the machine to test.

The limitation of AI today is that it can’t capture all of the nuances of business strategy. You still can, so make that your job.

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PPC Team standing outside by a building with their arms draped over a safety bar, L-R: Beth Ireland, Tess Little, and Lauren England