Way back in 2021, I had a whinge about how Google Ads was shifting towards automation. While Google alleged that automation improved campaign performance, I found that wasn’t always the case. And it still isn’t.
So as you can imagine, when I heard that Google is set to offer advertisers AI tools to ‘remix’ content in their ad campaigns, I shuddered.
As first reported by The Financial Times, which obtained an internal presentation on the new feature, AI will be integrated into Performance Max campaigns (which I’ve also raised concerns about the effectiveness of).
It’s also worth mentioning that the AI is likely to be based on Google’s Bard model, which, you’ve guessed it, I’ve also experienced issues with.
Performance Max campaigns already use a degree of machine learning and automation which dictate where/when/how ads appear, though how this actually works is unclear. If you’re not selecting a single final URL, it may also generate ad headlines for you by scraping copy from a landing page. And they are usually dreadful.
In addition, back at the start of April, Google rolled out a Beta test that uses AI to help write Responsive Search Ads, which suggests it may soon release this feature to all advertisers.
How the introduction of AI will change Google Ads campaigns
The way in which the generative AI will work is by ‘remixing’ assets provided by the advertiser; text, images, and videos to create ads that target specific audiences and meet objectives (i.e. conversions or conversion value).
This raises a few red flags for me.
Anyone who has experimented with AI copywriting tools will understand that a lot of the time, it provides inaccurate information, something that the tech industry is calling ‘hallucinations’. Furthermore, evidence has shown that it replicates biases found in its training data. Google has not yet provided much by way of assurance that this will not happen, only stating there will be safeguards in place to prevent this.
And because Performance Max campaigns primarily targets new users (no, you can’t just set up a Remarketing Performance Max campaign) it’s difficult to say how it will know what language to use to appeal to potential customers.
As one person who saw the presentation stated:
“It is optimised to convert new customers and has no idea what the truth is.”
What this means is that AI-generated ads can be shown across Search, YouTube, Gmail and its Display Network at other Google-owned entities with the sole aim of converting customers, with absolutely no concern for the cold hard facts.
Not only is there the potential for these ads to present false information about your brand, but if you are worried about brand guidelines not being followed, well, you should be. Because the AI is simply not going to be aware of them. If there are certain words or phrases that your brand avoids, ad copy being shown to potential customers could contain them.
Finally, the reporting for Performance Max campaigns is rubbish. You already have little to no idea which ad combinations are working, and with the introduction of AI-generated copy, I can only see that becoming worse.