As we move further into the new year, it seems that digital marketing in 2021 is set to be dominated by an increased use of AI and Machine Learning (ML) technologies – most especially when these efforts include the services of Google. Any quality corporate digital marketing training course will include modules on ML, and owing to the complexity of the topic, one will have to do some independent research to truly understand its potential. In this post, we’d like to offer a broad, high-level overview of the subject and touch on how it’s already affecting our daily marketing operations.
In many ways, all computing is essentially a process of reasoning. The steps followed in reasoning from given premises to a correct conclusion are the algorithm, which is designed and built by the likes of programmers and software engineers. As is well evidenced, the implementation of extraordinarily complex and long reasoning processes on a machine has given rise to advances once only dreamt of. Indeed, the flow of information and its processing in computation has led to what is accurately referred to as the 4th Industrial Revolution. This isn’t a quirky and attention-grabbing catchphrase: it’s the real deal.
One problem with traditional algorithms is that they are quite brittle; meaning that they operate well as long as they aren’t asked to do anything that’s not explicitly handled in their design. But, as it turns out, things in the real world are often quite messy and follow general tendencies rather than exact rules. This is where human intelligence has always had an advantage over computers – they are faster, but we can recognise patterns and deal with deviances in ways that couldn’t be matched.
And This Is Where Artificial Intelligence Steps into the Story
Given the right tools, computing processes can, amongst other things, learn how to think more like humans in terms of matching imperfect inputs to their correct conclusions. Machine Learning is a subset of AI and, in a nutshell, it is the process of letting the computer develop its own reasoning processes based on giving it inputs and their corresponding outputs. This last statement is a massive simplification, but the gist is what we’re after.
The steps (that is, the reasoning process) between inputs and the outputs are then inferred by the computer rather than defined by a pre-programmed algorithm. This, when you stop to think about it, is jaw-dropping. Corporate digital marketing training courses need not go into the nuances of the above, but it is important to note that ML can learn the logic and causal relationships underpinning very complicated, real-world phenomena.
A well-worn but relatively modest and illustrative example is of neural nets learning to recognise handwritten numbers. Your version of 5 and mine may differ quite markedly, but the neural net will learn that they have certain features in common, and that if these features are present, then when looking at our squiggles, it will read “5”. To learn what these features are, network trainers will feed it a heap of data about what handwritten 5’s look like – in the form of actual examples.
All it needs is enough data and time to keep refining its own “thinking” processes.
Machine Learning and Digital Marketing
In terms of its appearance in the everyday lives of digital marketers, ML results in significant automation and optimisation – which is also why it should form a significant portion of corporate digital marketing training courses.
There are several ways in which ML is already transforming Google Ads. The first of which is in bidding strategies. As a digital marketer, and this certainly applies to corporate digital marketers making use of large budgets, ensuring that you earn the most effective results for your spend is an imperative. As you’ll learn in a digital marketing course (if you aren’t using smart bidding already), by setting your targets – Cost per Conversion, Return on Ad Spend, Cost per Acquisition, etc. – Google’s ML can suggest and then implement the strategy that is most likely to bring you optimal results.
The latter isn’t exactly “old-hat”, but there have been further developments in Google Ads ML. A good digital marketing training course in 2021 should also focus on smart campaigns. In this writer’s opinion, smart campaigns are probably one of the coolest things to happen in the industry for a while, and almost certainly point towards a coming world where keywords are a thing of the past.
Smart Campaigns and the Keywordless Future
Smart campaigns combine the learning technology used to optimise ads in Google Discovery with smart bidding – but they go further as they actually automate the ad generation process. If you’ve worked with Google Discovery Ads in the past or learnt about them in a digital training course somewhere along the way, you’ll know that they use a variety of options for headlines, descriptions, and display images. That is, they’ll use a selection of inputs that you, as a campaign manager have provided, and self-generate a number of variations to learn which combination garners the most attention/results in conversions. In itself, this is incredible.
But, and this is how intelligent Google has become, with smart campaigns, Google now analyses your target landing page and generates an entire campaign on your behalf.
If it sounds crazy, it’s because it is.
In other words, Google is now forcing digital marketers, from corporates to small start-ups, to focus on the quality of their websites and their target landing pages. By looking at your landing page, and the information it provides, Google can now use ML to “understand” what your product/service is, to whom it applies, what search terms these customers/clients will use when searching for your offerings, and how much you should be spending to reach them.
Smart campaigns use Google’s incredible ML power to get you, their advertising client, and consumers, their search engine clients, the most appropriate matches they can. Directing their search engine clients to the information that they need, quickly and seamlessly, is why Google exists as a service provider in the first place.
In a reputable corporate digital marketing training programme, instructors will obviously present this information in much greater detail and run through several examples – however, they should do more. They should provide training on how to optimise your webpage (and indeed the entire site) for this revolutionary technology. So much will now come down to having landing pages that are high quality, and provide (human) searchers with precisely what they’re looking for.
Having read this far, you can infer why the future of Google Ads will almost certainly no longer include keywords as we’ve come to know and love them.
Corporate Digital Marketing Training at iLEAD et al
Machine Learning is ushering in a new era in market intelligence, campaign automation and optimisation. Be ahead of the curve and learn as much about it as early as you can by attending a corporate digital marketing training programme run by a well-known, Google Premier Partner like iLEAD et al. Get in touch with our team today and find out more about how our many various training programmes can further your digital marketing career or contribute towards your business success.