AI and PPC, a growing partnership



Why AI took years to matter to PPC

AI has been around since 1956, and PPC has existed since the late 1990s. So why did it take until now for AI’s role in paid search to become such a hot topic in our industry?

It’s because we’ve recently hit an inflection point where, due to the exponential nature of technological advances, we’re now seeing improvements that used to take years happen in weeks.

What’s driving this is the exponential growth explained by Moore’s Law, the principle that computing power doubles approximately every 18 months.

Because computing speed has already doubled 27 times, every extra doubling leads to new capabilities that are beyond imagination.


The Current Level of PPC Automation

If we’re going to automate part of our jobs, we need to understand the limits of the AI we’re using, because that tells us how closely to supervise the system if we don’t want our campaigns to crash and burn.

The current advancement of PPC Automation and its predictable future can be represented as different levels:


Level 0

Everything in the PPC account is done manually, with spreadsheets, and with tools that require all the inputs to be provided by humans.

Level 1

In level 1, automations monitor and alert but take no automated action. A good example is an AdWords Script like Google’s Anomaly Detector, which scans performance of an account hourly and triggers an alert when the metrics deviate more than a set percentage from expectations.



Level 2

Here, individual management tasks are automated, but there is no interconnection between the tasks. A good example of this would be an Automated Rule that runs daily and pauses any keywords that have a Quality Score lower than a set number.

Level 3

This level of automation handles multiple tasks together and understands the interplay of the managed components. An example here would be a system that automates both setting bids and budgets and is smart enough to understand that when bids are raised, this may necessitate adjusting budgets to drive the most traffic to the best-performing campaigns first.



Level 4

Now we’re getting into full automation, where human oversight is no longer required as long as the ads are kept within some pretty tight bounds. Imagine a vertical-specific platform where you set the goals of the campaign, like a CPA target, and a maximum budget, and because the vertical is so tightly defined, the system knows what it is allowed to do with bids, budgets, ads, keywords, targeting options and so on.

Level 5

This is where we envision a world where the ad system will be so smart that it will know how to grow any business. A company could write a blank check to Google, knowing that they would see profitable growth as a direct result.



There are three pillars for being a successful PPC marketer in a world where AI takes over:

  1. Be ready for the new roles humans will play.
  2. Have a plan for your business, and especially focus on having the best process for leveraging AI.
  3. Understand the technology so you can spot opportunities faster.

But don’t panic about the future of your agency, or Digital Marketing Activity as such, as there are 4 major reasons why digital marketing agencies / teams will never be replaced by AI:

  1. Agencies will be the ones teaching machines to learn
  2. Agencies will provide the creativity machines lack
  3. Agencies will be the pilot who adverts disaster
  4. Agencies will have the empathy ,machines lack


Automation is taking over a lot of the tasks humans have historically done in PPC; but as this shift continues, there will be plenty of new opportunities for PPC experts and agencies to provide value to their clients.