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PPC Battles: Human Versus Machine in 2018

We’ve had a few PPC battles in the last year, including a webinar alongside Main Street ROI and another with Hanapin Marketing. We got together to see who does PPC better, humans or machines?

The battle is far from over. In fact, with machine learning technologies only just starting to impact our lives, the battle has just begun. Marketers are starting to learn their limitations and leveraging technology to overcome them. As we embrace intelligent technologies, their vulnerabilities and shortcomings become apparent as well.

Who do you think is winning the human versus machine PPC battle so far? Contributors to our 2018 Digital Predictions weighed in on the war with their insights.

Brad Geddes: Humans Are Winning

Brad Geddes, Co-Founder of Adalysis, thinks that humans are doing way better than machines when it comes to PPC and he makes a compelling argument. In his 2018 predictions he explained a few scenarios where humans win:

  • An ad with an “uncompelling offer” that’s not performing well. Machine sees there is only one ad variant and suggests two more with the same uncompelling offer. However, a human comes in and realized the ad has bigger problems, fixes the offer and fixes the ad.
  • Your landing page is broken. The machine doesn’t know that and just keeps lowering bids because your ROAS dropped and eventually your bid is too low that your ad is no longer on the first page. Then the human comes in and fixes the page, but the machine doesn’t know that, so the human has to manually raise the bid to get you back to the first page.
  • You forget to pause your holiday campaigns. A human would see that and take action immediately, whereas with a machine it could take months to digest the data that says these holiday ads are no longer performing.

On the other hand, Brad points out that machines are best at digesting large data sets from multiple sources in real time. Ultimately he believes that machines are great at certain tasks but humans are still very necessary in the equation.

Fred Vallaeys: Machines are Winning

Fred Vallaeys, the Co-Founder of Optmyzr, argues the opposite, that machines will dominate PPC in 2018. This is the more popular tune that we’ve heard in recent months, given the lift in performance that machines have proven they’re capable of giving campaign managers – and that’s exactly Fred’s point.

He argues that it is because of this lift in performance machine learning provides that accounts using this technology will outperform those that aren’t and this will become apparent this year. He believes that account managers who want to stay relevant should be using machine learning for things they’re really good at like bid management. At the same time, he clarifies that he doesn’t think it’s a competition and rather that we need to learn how to work with the technology that is there to help our campaign results.

Humans and Machines, Better Together

As we said in our Machine Learning ebook, machines are useless without human intervention. We believe that and ultimately agree with both Brad and Fred. Machine learning is here for us to use to our advantage and before we resist it, we should see what it can do for us (and our clients!).

Jeff Baum from Hanapin Marketing pointed out in his predictions that machine learning allows us to develop deeper insights than we could on our own and this is important for strategy and decision making. Johnathan Dane from Klientboost mentioned a PPC AI Assistant is in the works that could help make recommendations around SKAGs, audiences and even landing pages!

The ways that we can improve cooperation with machines in PPC is already taking shape and again, it’s still the early days. Either way, as PPC professionals we need to embrace machine learning and AI solutions that give us the advantage we need. That’s really how we should be seeing it. In 2018 we’re turning this battle into a blossoming friendship.

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If you’d like more insights and discussions on what marketers can expect to change this year, download our Digital Predictions ebook (or at least check out the expert prediction videos on the landing page!).


Image Credits

Feature Image: UnsplashNeONBRAND

Chandal Nolasco Da Silva

Chandal Nolasco Da Silva

With nearly a decade of digital marketing experience, Chandal has created content strategies for both the biggest and sometimes the most unexpected markets, while developing strategic relationships with editors and publishers. Chandal contributes to some of the highest authority industry publications, has been featured in industry events and is thrilled to be Acquisio’s Content Director.

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