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  • Writer's pictureAustin Lynch

AI in Digital Advertising: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

ai in digital advertising

We are all hearing about AI, and how it’s changing. We’ve been keeping a particularly close eye on how it’s impacting the advertising world. The Big Five (Google, Meta, Amazon, Microsoft, TikTok) are all adopting new AI tools as quickly as they can get them onboarded. This is a little concerning because you need to be able to trust that your ads are going to look right every time. 

In this article, we will cover Google and Meta’s platform changes. You'll learn about the changes currently happening, what the changes look like in-platform, and what we expect to happen in the future.

AI in Google Ads

Google Search revenue increased by 14% to $46 billion YoY in Q1 2024 compared to $40 billion in Q1 2023. To grow revenue further, Google is looking to make advertising on its platforms even easier by rolling out more AI features. Let's see if you should work them into your current campaign builds.

Performance Max | Grade: A-

In 2022, Google introduced us to Performance Max. This new campaign type combines ad placements (search, shopping, display, video) to serve your message. Performance Max is the reason that product-focused companies lost access to the "Smart Shopping" campaign type. Google Ads integrated it into Performance Max!

The Good: 

Performance Max is a great way to achieve scale in your shopping campaigns while maintaining strong performance. Advertisers can rely on their typical Max Conversion, Max Conversion Value, or Target ROAS bidding strategies and have far less manual optimization work across various channels.

The Bad: 

We have also found that Performance Max can be a bit of a black box. Google is still getting granular about the type of data you can access. They still need a lot of improvement to match the data expected from shopping campaigns.

The Ugly: 

Performance Max requires a lot of creative assets. Way more than you might expect! For 1 asset group, it requires:

  • 15 headlines

  • 5 longer headlines

  • 5 pieces of description text

  • URL

  • 20 images (in a variety of aspect ratios)

  • 2-5 logo options

  • A business name matching your Merchant Center account

  • 5 videos

  • Call To Action button

  • Display path. 

This doesn’t even include the extensions you’ll want to add to get the most out of your campaign! At the end of the day, Performance Max is worth using. Want the most out of it? Work with a professional. We'd love to help. Schedule a Discovery Call today!

Automatically Created Assets | Grade: C

When you think of AI, you might be thinking of generative AI. This is what you experience when using Chat GPT.

Google is jumping into the generative AI world to bring us the ability to create advertising assets without help. This ensures that you have the most headlines and descriptions possible for your campaigns. Google uses your inputted ad copy, keywords, and language from the landing page to create these assets for you.

The Good:

The Automatically Created Assets tool ensures that you have the maximum number of assets allowed inside of a campaign. This often helps boost the quality score of the ad. Which, in turn, helps it with bidding at auction.

The Bad:

AI-generated copy misses the mark more than it lands. You'll find that it struggles to match your brand’s tone, verbiage, and sentiment. We recommend using at least 80% of your own ad copy. Automatically Created Assets should only supplement your campaign builds as necessary.

The Ugly:

Having Google write all of your campaign's ad copy is tempting. If you do this you will likely notice redundant headlines and descriptions. When you see these ads in the wild they just don't look right to the human eye.

In time Google's AI will be able to create ads that feel right. You should only use AI-generated imagery in a pinch. Don't use it for the entire campaign. As long as you stick to that guideline, give it a try!

Gemini and Image Suggestions | Grade: B-

Part of what Gemini does is source open-source imagery and recommend it as a part of your campaign build. Google uses Gemini to help you improve your ads' quality score.

As I mentioned earlier, Performance Max campaigns need 20 images in 1 asset group to achieve an excellent score. They also want you to mix in square, vertical, and horizontal imagery. Many companies don't have this number of brand-safe images for every product category they sell.

The Good:

It's hard to achieve an excellent ad score in Performance Max. Let's say you only have 15 images for your Performance Max campaign build. Gemini is a quick hassle-free way to fill that gap of 5 images.

The Bad:

Bad advertisers will fall into the trap of letting Gemini select all their imagery. This creates a lack of branding across what might be your most important campaign in Performance Max.

The Ugly:

If you decide to trust Gemini as your creative director then you will most likely end up with some weird ads. Gemini doesn't have the human touch yet. Triple-check your Gemini-selected photos to ensure they fit your company's brand.

Gemini is a useful tool. If nothing else, it could show you more ideas for what you could be using in your ad campaigns.

AI in Meta Ads

Meta recently released their competitor to OpenAI. The Meta branding experts must've been working overtime. Can you guess what they named it? Meta AI. 🤯

Meta AI is competing with OpenAI's ChatGPT but now we're seeing more and more integrations into Meta's Ads Manager platform.

Advantage+ | Grade: C

If you're advertising on Meta you've already seen the phrase Advantage+. This is Meta’s suite of tools focused on making digital advertising easier. Here is a list to give you an idea of how many integrations are already in the platform:

  • Advantage+ Catalog Ads

  • Advantage Campaign Budget

  • Advantage+ Audiences

  • Advantage+ Placements

  • Advantage+ Creative

By the time you're reading this, there is a good chance that there will be twice as many Advantage+ options. Meta isn't slowing down on these integrations anytime soon.

The Good:

If you aren't worried about brand safety then go for it. If you aren't worried about how your ads appear in front of customers then this tech is great for you. You can set up ads with the Ads Manager with almost no friction.

The Bad:

We have found that many of these options lead to poor user experiences. This leads to lower ad performance and poor customer experience.

The Ugly:

If janky-looking ads are a part of your branding then feel free to leave all these options auto-toggled to on. Enjoy seeing ads in places you didn't expect!

We recommend working with a professional partner. Time and time again we have audited ad accounts and seen errors created by unaware users. These errors could be costing you thousands of dollars. Schedule a Discovery Call with us today and see how High Beam Marketing can help.

Creative Enhancements | Grade: F

This is by far the worst AI feature on Meta or Google right now. As part of Advantage+ creative, Meta will turn on creative enhancements automatically. Below is a list of “enhancements” you might expect from Meta if you have Advantage+ creative toggled on:

  • Standard Enhancements (auto-adjusting aspect ratios and cropping)

  • Image Expansion (using mirroring and other image extension tools to fit larger asset placement types)

  • Image Filters (adjusting the colors of your imagery)

  • 3D Animations (adding movement to static imagery)

  • Music Additions (open-source music getting added to photos or videos that might not have sound)

  • Catalog Auto-Tagging (products getting tagged automatically in your ads)

The Good:

I’ll force myself to say something nice here. Having more placements turned on in your campaign can lead to lower CPM prices. This results in more impressions running across Meta’s locations (for the same cost).

The Bad:

When ads look weird it leads to a distrust in the business running them. This leads to lower click-through and conversion rates. Impressions for impression's sake are vanity metrics in the advertising world. Who cares if a billion people saw your ad if you don't hit your business goals.

The Ugly:

Meta's advertising placements are visual in nature. You need to ensure that every ad running for your business looks like you expect it to look. Automatic AI adjustments to human-made creative assets don't work yet.

If you are running Meta Ads, go check your campaigns to ensure that Creative Enhancements aren't ruining your brand one impression at a time.

Suggested Text Variations | Grade: B-

Suggested Tex Variations in Meta are going to look and feel like Google's Automatically Created Assets. You input copy, headlines, and descriptions into your campaign build and Meta will begin to offer suggested variations.

The Good:

If you're not an experienced copywriter, Suggested Text Variations can be helpful. These extra text variations give you a different angle on your ad's call-to-action. You'll shorten the long collaborative creative process and be able to launch ads faster.

The Bad:

If you aren’t checking the options you're selecting you could be left with some options that aren’t brand-safe. Be careful here. Slow down and double-check everything Meta's AI suggests.

The Ugly:

If you aren't clear on your company's branding then using an AI to write for you is going to create a very flat experience for your customers. You will still have to put in some work to ensure that Meta's AI is getting close to your brand's messaging. You'll also have to double-check for redundancy in the copy suggestions. Suggested Text Variations are actually one of Meta’s better AI features.

AI in Your Marketing

The AI train isn't slowing down. There will continue to be more and more AI integrations in Google and Meta as time goes on. You would think that these tools are going to make it easier for you to run ads but that isn't always the case. These tools are making it easier for more people to run more ads which makes Google and Meta more money.

Unless you're a full-time digital ad buyer, your time is better spent in other areas of your business. Find a partner you can trust to make these platform changes work for your business and not against it. Schedule a Discovery Call with High Beam Marketing and see how we can help your business deliver results like these



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