“Smart Campaigns:” Google uses AI to advertise for SMEs

Google has turned to a new type of campaign to attract small and local businesses

“Smart Campaigns:” Google uses AI to advertise for SMEs
© Google

Google has now activated its “Smart Campaigns” for the German market as well. This new type of campaign for Google’s ad network automates numerous things that otherwise require lots of time and expertise. Logically, the target groups for these intelligent campaigns are also small and medium-sized enterprises that will benefit particularly from these easy-to-create ads. Smart Campaigns are also the first new product since rebranding: during the summer, it was announced that the AdWords and DoubleClick brands would be retired and henceforth managed under the new Google Ads umbrella brand.

Powered by machine learning

Nowadays, new products in marketing simply cannot get by without artificial intelligence – at least that is the impression you almost inevitably get when you realize all the areas in which AI can now be found. Google intends to be at the very leading edge of this development, and the products it is introducing to the market reflect this. “The campaign is supposed to work for you, not the other way around,” a brief product video remarks about the new ad format. This will be made possible by the smart “ImagePicker,” among other things. This means that advertising customers no longer have to decide for themselves which images, descriptions and headings they want to use for their display ads: the Smart Campaign feature independently selects and tests various combinations of the uploaded assets and delivers the optimal result in the end.

The way placement works is similar: Smart Campaign analyzes the information stored the company has stored and extracts suitable keywords. If a search request coincides with these terms, the ad automatically generated is shown. Here, too, machine learning is used to drive an automated learning process that results in ongoing optimization of advertising, together with keywords and placement.

Smart Campaigns also independently manage the advertising budget. The billing model Google uses is the established cost-per-click (CPC) model, which promises at the same time that advertising customers will actually only pay for what is clicked.

Local companies as target group

Google also intends to use Smart Campaigns to make digital advertising appealing for companies that do not have a website of their own. Instead, local enterprises simply use an entry in Google My Business as their landing page to attract customers to their businesses. With this product, Google is again reinforcing its efforts to attract local retailers to whom they have already appealed with a new feature within Google Maps: Interested parties can use the “Follow” feature to stay up-to-date about local firms.

The bottom line: Google is positioning itself as a competitor to Facebook

For years, we have known that Facebook poses a threat to Google, and the fact was also acknowledged in Google’s Mountain View headquarters early on. What Google has lacked thus far, however, was an effective way to meet this threat. Google+ was not the first attempt to counter the threat by means of an alternative social network, but it was very likely the last such attempt – and it also fell flat. Apparently, Google is now strategically shifting back to its own strengths rather than simply emulating its competitors’ successes. In Google’s case, this means: a return to its core business: Internet searches and Google Ads. For local businesses in particular, the latest developments around Google My Business already present an interesting alternative to a Facebook page: This is how they are moving closer to customers’ immediate needs.

Yet this comes with a catch: Because the Smart Campaign feature relies on the assets and details about companies in Google My Business, advertisers must invest in these building blocks. Only if this foundation is right can intelligent ads be built upon it.