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Artificial intelligence has been fundamental to Google’s advertising for decades, but often in ways imperceptible to marketers. At its annual marketing conference today, Google Marketing Live, the search giant rolled out a variety of products that brings AI, particularly generative AI, to the forefront, as industry buzz heightens over the technology.
Google is introducing a chatbot that will help advertisers devise search campaigns, its first marketer-facing chatbot technology. The company is also rolling out a suite of image generating tools called Product Studio, which can generate scenes with text-to-image AI generation, remove backgrounds and increase the resolution of images.
Generative AI will also play a greater role in existing AI-driven products. Performance Max, which already uses AI to find the best Google media to place an ad, will give marketers generative AI tools to tailor the assets they input into Performance Max.
Automatically Created Assets, an existing tool that helps creates copy and images for a brand from their website and existing ads, will get a boost from generative AI on the back-end, helping the technology “think” more and likely giving marketers more options to choose from.
Google has been working to make its AI technologies more visible to consumers, not just marketers. Earlier this month, at its developer conference Google I/O, the company unveiled Search Generative Experience (SGE), which brings a more chatbot-like experience to traditional search.
Google is experimenting with adding shopping ads and other formats within SGE—for now, ads will appear in this format without marketers explicitly designating that they want their ads to appear in SGE, and marketers won’t know whether their ads appeared in SGE post-campaign, Google executives told reporters at a briefing yesterday. Microsoft is currently taking a similar approach, not letting marketers tailor ads to their new chatbot Bing experience, the company said earlier this month.
Google’s new product launches come at a time when hype around AI has reached a fever pitch. Many companies, especially in the tech sector are announcing new generative AI features, including Meta, which unveiled new ways for marketers to use generative AI to make ad creative earlier this month. Meta’s new products also include tools to change the background of images.
Google is ahead of many of its competitors in the AI race, but also must keep pace with other companies in terms of new product announcements, especially as it faces new threats to its dominance in search from Microsoft and OpenAI.
“A lot of their stuff has existed behind the scenes,” said Aaron Levy, vp of paid search at performance marketing agency Tinuiti. “They’re being a little bit more forward with what they’re doing and that’s the catch up.”
Generative AI could be useful … if it works
The bells and whistles Google is offering could be useful for marketers to iterate and save time.
“If they can make more recommendations or create assets on my behalf, spectacular,” said Adam Lovallo, founder of digital marketing agency Thesis.
While a concern with AI-created content is that creative assets no longer become differentiated, marketers can avoid this by making sure their inputs are differentiated. And search ads from different brands have sounded similar to each other for years, without being less effective, Lovallo said.
“It’s normal for performance marketers particularly to be borrowing liberally, if not copying outright and doing it with an AI,” Lovallo said, noting performance marketers have been using generative AI tech for years.
The question is not so much whether Google’s new tools will be useful, but whether they’re truly effective and efficient. For example, Automatically Creative Assets, which creates assets drawn in part from existing copy and images on a brand’s website, has not always excelled, Levy said.
“We’ve done our best to avoid them,” he said, noting that the generative AI-boost the product is getting could improve the product. “They look super generic.”
And some of Google’s new products, which lean into the hype of generative AI, may not be as good as its bevy of existing technologies that exist to help marketers write keywords.
“For serious enterprise, high-scale advertisers for sure the ideal interface is not an interactive chatbot where you have to type enter a million times,” Lovallo said.