Why A.I Can’t Fully Replace Humans In PPC (Yet)



Artificial Intelligence is a hot topic in PPC, but until the machines fully take over day-to-day account management, there are a few key areas where human PPC pros can still add a lot of value.


Use business data for bid management

Bid management can be one of the most repetitive and boring tasks of managing PPC because after a model has been built, you are left with an ongoing task of executing on the plan, and this may involve downloading the data, putting it into the correct format, and then running it through your formulas to determine the new bid. For machines, this might sound like the perfect dinner on a Caribbean beach at sunset, but for us humans? Not so much. Repetition is dull, and since it’s a dull task, we tend to become a bit less thorough with our analysis as time goes on.

This is why both Google and Bing offer automated bid management solutions. There are also many third-party bid management solutions which aim to improve on shortcomings of the bid management solutions from an engine. Though it is a well-known fact that the engines can do amazing bid management work, their solutions are generic and can ignore aspects that the business owner knows will impact their online conversions.


There are several things these automated bid systems cannot do:

  1. Know the context of the performance that is measured through conversion tracking (e.g., conversions were slow yesterday because there was an issue with servers in one of the data centers).
  2. Understand the factors that impact the industry (e.g., a company with 15 vans will be better able to service a distributed customer base than one with just three vans).

The ideal bid management system combines the algorithms from the engines with data from your business. To this end, advertisers should calculate their own CPCs based on in-house data and then submit these bids to the engine as an Enhanced CPC, so that Google or Bing can adjust the bid up or down based on what they know about each auction.


Use keywords to target shopping ads

A second area where PPC pros should take back some control from the machines is with managing keywords for shopping ads. While shopping ads are automatically targeted to relevant queries that match the product in an advertiser’s feed, there is always the option of adding negative keywords.

In a rather extreme, yet interestingly practical way, you could actually target a specific keyword not by the inclusion of that term, but rather by the exclusion of all other terms.

This is the foundation of “Query Sculpting,” a PPC technique that deploys negative keywords to drive traffic to the desired target. And because negative keywords are much more explicit than positive keywords, they are the main tool, and A.I is not yet capable of determining negative keywords as efficiently as humans, as it requires a “human understanding” of search queries, as they are themselves made by other humans.


Create Better Ad Copies

Thanks to Google’s improvements in Machine Learning, there is less need to manually cull underperforming ads from an account. However, creating relevant Ads is something A.I hasn’t proven to be good at so far. Automation, given a longer amount of time and the right elements, could eventually reach the point where a logical, attractive, eye-catching Ad copy would be generated, but you’ve heard the story that if you gave 1,000 monkeys typewriters and an infinite amount of time, they’d eventually write all the works of Shakespeare. But monkeys eat lots of bananas and tend to prioritize climbing trees before writing those famous soliloquies, so they’d most likely take forever.



Exciting and perhaps scary times are ahead for all sorts of professions where AI will take over a plethora of tasks that used to require human intelligence. There’s a slight fog surrounding the future of human intelligence in the workplace, and though it isn’t thick enough to cover us just yet, it creates a bit of unease in many circles. What will happen when machines take over?

It’s an inevitable passage, but the more human input we give these machines throughout this transition period, the more effective they will be at helping achieve the shared goal of improving PPC performance. And in the meantime, human PPC pros have many opportunities to transform their day-to-day into something that will endure over time and set a solid foundation for working in an AI-first world.