Automation Is Hard, Just Ask Google

For those of you who haven’t heard, Google announced a pilot program called Ads Added by AdWords. This program is named very descriptively in that AdWords will be writing and loading (ACTIVE!!!) ads for your account. The claim is that ad groups where these ads are added may see performance improved by 5%-15%.

If you’re a busy SMB owner or managing your account is taking too long, this could sound like a great deal. Ads custom-written by AdWords and loaded up without you having to lift a finger. But how did AdWords create those ads?

How AdWords Creates Those Ads

According to a post from SEL, these ads are written by real people and edited by the product team before being pushed to live accounts. That’s no small task considering that 2,000 accounts are part of the pilot.

Will These Be Truly Automated In The Future?

Right now, Google is expending some serious manpower and money on this effort. Just identifying the 2,000 accounts would take time. Then you have to notify them all and start writing actual ad copy. That ad copy gets reviewed by more people and then you’ve got to push it into accounts (without screwing anything up).

It seems fairly obvious that this pilot is intended to do 2 things:

  • Learn what accounts are being under-managed (by Google’s standards)
  • Learn how much of a boost ad rotation can provide

Once Google knows these 2 pieces of information they can identify how many accounts are candidates across the entire AdWords ecosystem (and how much money they’re spending). That is the size of the opportunity.

Then you take the boost in performance (which will probably be measured by improvement in CTR, which means more revenue/search for Google) and multiply by the number of accounts & spend. Bam! Google can see how much money advertisers aren’t giving them simply because they’re too lazy to test ad copy more often.

But that brings up the question of how Google does this type of work at scale? They could try to get super-cheap ad writing done, but the quality will likely be too low to put their name on and their backing behind. So this becomes a job for the machines.

Enter The Machines

With the advances in machine learning, Google could begin leveraging their vast database (they have access to ad copy from all the best performing ads & could easily do some n-gram analysis to find top performing words/phrases that are generic). That combined with the verbiage in existing ads and on the destination URL pages, they’d have a pretty dang good idea what is being advertised.

But that’s not easy and Google is proving it because they’re still using real people to write ads in 2,000 accounts. TWO THOUSAND ACCOUNTS! So while Google has the muscle and bank account to try this, we’ll see how successful they are. Because right now, John Henry ad writer is still better than the machine.

What do you think about Ads Added by AdWords? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.