Digital advertising is when we pay to place messages in front of consumers across digital channels such as search, social media, and websites.
Like traditional advertising, digital advertising is pay to play:
You spend money to have your ad creative placed in front of consumers.
Unlike traditional advertising, however, digital advertising is a game played at light speed:
Ad space is bought and sold in real-time in auctions regulated by sophisticated machine learning algorithms.
Advertisers have the power to target granular audience segments using rich data from ad platforms on demographics and behaviors.
Platforms like Google and Facebook continually place, adjust, boost, and penalize ads based on ad quality and engagement.
Digital advertising gives brands an unprecedented ability to target, reach, and convert prospects at scale.
But there's a big problem...
Today's digital advertising is just too fast and too complex for human professionals to handle.
Sure, we may be adept at ad creation, targeting, and management.
But we lack the resources to truly unlock the immense power of digital advertising.
Human marketers don't have the time, bandwidth, or budgets to effectively run paid digital advertising campaigns that finely target many audiences across multiple channels at scale.
Maybe that's why Harvard Business Review notes that brands overestimated the effectiveness of search ads on eBay by 4,100%.
Or that they overestimated the effectiveness of Facebook ads by 4,000%.
There's good news, though.
Artificial intelligence can help.
Today, AI in advertising can manage and optimize digital advertising at scale.
It's why brands are using AI in digital advertising for everything from predicting ad performance to automatically running campaigns to optimizing budgets.
So, how do you get started with AI for digital advertising?
Keep reading to find out.
1. Understand the Age of Digital Advertising Across Social Media and Search
While traditional media will always be important, digital advertising on social media and across search results has reshaped the way we market by allowing many-to-many communication.
Traditional media follows a one-to-many model. Whether it is newspaper, radio, or flyers, customers are reached, but they do not have a way to communicate back with the brand.
With many-to-many communication, messages can be sent out to mass audiences, and that same audience can reach back out to the brand as well. This creates a solid relationship between business and consumer, increasing customer loyalty.
It's also why AI is so important:
Many-to-many communication creates untold opportunities. But it also creates untold complexity. Smart AI systems can cut through the noise, and manage millions or billions of data points at speed and scale in ways that human digital advertisers can't.
2. Consider the Costs of Digital Advertising
Digital advertising is expensive when done right. It costs even more when done wrong.
There are three important costs to consider when running any digital advertising campaign:
- Time: The goal of Google and other big platforms such as Facebook is to provide relevant content to each of their users. Therefore, you may have to spend extra time and effort creating content that matches each platform’s needs.
- Extra advertising: Organic reach has significantly dropped over the last few years. Therefore, you might need to spend more time and money on advertising to make up for that loss of organic traffic.
- SEO: The higher you want to rank on search engines, the more money you have to pay. If this is not done, your competitors will easily overshadow you.
When you evaluate the costs, it starts to look attractive to explore AI.
3. Start with Free AI Tools for Digital Advertising
There are hundreds of free tools out there that can help you improve your digital marketing. Here is a list of three tools to get you started:
- Google Trends. This tool allows you to research what type of queries people are searching. It can help you decide what type of message to put where.
- Google Search Bar. Even something as simple as a search bar can give you insight on what people are searching. If you type in a partial phrase, Google's machine learning algorithms will suggest common searches.
- Google Keyword Planner. This tool tells you which keywords to compete for with a breakdown of their costs and even what time of year to invest in them.
There are also tools that are not free, but provide even more services for their customers. WordStream is an example of a tool that allows you to gain better SEO and SEM keywords by collecting data from every search engine on the internet, not just Google.
4. Understand That AI Isn't Magic
AI cannot do anything without mathematics and statistics. The decisions, predictions, and reports AI provides are generated from algorithms that learn overtime.
For example, a machine will learn over time to tell the difference between an orange and a banana. This machine learning is based on recognition and a human telling it when it is accurate or inaccurate. It is important to remember that AI takes tasks we have always done and does them for us, but much quicker.
As you explore AI, remember that it can't do everything or solve every problem.
But, done right, it can help you dramatically improve how much money you make from digital advertising—and reduce how much money you spend to advertise across social media and search
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Bethany is an intern for Ready North and Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute. She is a student at Mount Union.