Google wants to target you - yes, YOU - with AI-generated ads

Google plans to roll out generative AI tools that can automatically create online advertising campaigns personalized to users' search queries.

The Alphabet-owned ad giant is ramping up efforts to inject more AI into its core business areas - such as internet search and digital adverts - as it faces challenges to its dominance.

Jerry Dischler, general manager of Google Ads, pointed out Google has been using machine-learning systems in advertising for a while. Algorithms and neural networks power its Smart Bidding and Performance Max features, for example, to help automate some processes for advertisers and optimize different metrics to capture audiences. It's been rolling out so-called automatically created assets since last year, which can offer machine-made titles and copy for web ads.

"AI is foundational to Google Ads. For many years, it has been quietly helping in the background, supporting advertisers in maximizing their time and return on investment," Dischler explained in a blog post.

Now, Google is planning to push more generative AI capabilities into the hands of its digital advertisers. Advertisers need only provide a link to a landing page on their website describing their product or service, and Google's systems will do the rest - automatically producing ad content based on that input.

Or so it's claimed.

This is how it'll apparently work in practice: Google's Performance Max tools will analyze a supplied landing page to generate appropriate headlines, text descriptions, and images to use in Google-served web ads. Advertisers can review these suggested designs, and edit and pick the right text or images to customize the final look. These ads are then shown to Google's users when they search using keywords automatically identified by the internet giant as most relevant to the advertiser.

"We're bringing generative AI to Performance Max to make it even easier for you to create custom assets and scale them in a few clicks. Just provide your website and Google AI will start learning about your brand to populate your campaign with text and other relevant assets. We'll even suggest new images generated just for you, helping you stand out to customers across a wider range of inventory and formats," Dischler explained.

A Google search for "skin care for dry sensitive skin," for example, would display ads from skincare brands with headlines generated by AI to match the user's queries. In this case, the title of the served ad might be "Soothe Your Dry, Sensitive Skin" alongside pictures of people applying lotions.

To us it seems that advertisers can steer the overall appearance of their ads, based on their site content, and then when people use search keywords that match an ad, it is optimized to suit their query and displayed. So not only is automatically generated, it's also automatically targeted in a more narrow, focused manner - which might get people clicking on them more, if they're not blocking the banners.

Dischler opined that Performance Max already improves businesses' conversion rates - the rate at which clicks on an ad actually lead to something tangible, like a product sale or a newsletter signup. The higher the rate, the more effective the ad. Google believes the rate will be boosted further with the help of generative AI, since it will help advertisers create personalized ads.

If someone is looking for "outdoor activities to do in Maui" and has also searched for "activities for kids" and "surfing", for example, Google's ad tools could generate a custom advert to promote a local company offering surfing lessons for children in Hawaii, for instance.

"As always, we're committed to transparency and making ads distinguishable from organic search results. When Search ads do appear, they will continue to feature our industry-leading clear and transparent ad labels with the 'Sponsored' label in bold black text," Dischler promised.

Meta and Amazon are also reportedly incorporating generative AI tools to create adverts on their own platforms. This may not end well. ®


Google's YouTube lately started asking some people to remove their ad blockers when watching videos. Now it's talking about bringing unskippable 30-second adverts to those watching the 'Tube on their TVs.

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