Avoid Black Box Automation in Digital Marketing

Avoid Black Box Automation in Digital Marketing

Anas Bouargane 11/09/2019 4

If you’re involved in digital marketing, regardless if you are a professional or hobbyist, you will have heard all about feed-driven advertising, automated bidding and machine learning algorithms. 

It seems that on every single digital marketing channel, automation appears to be the way forward. If you are doing PPC, you have Google Ads offering you ways to optimise towards cost-per-acquisition (CPA), return on ad spend (ROAS) and much more. 

Beyond that, there are ad formats that pretty much take all the manual work away, such as responsive search ads (RSA) and a bundle of “smart” solutions, such as smart display and smart shopping. 

Facebook offers you bid management mechanisms as well, rivalling the options you will have on Google Ads. Moreover, if you are a professional within the display/video and the programmatic world, you will see that direct buys and placements are going the way of the dodo. All progress and innovation sits within setting specific audiences (own, demographic, in-market or affinity) and running your flights.

Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

Innovation Turns Into Obsession

All this automation is a logical step, with such strides being made within machine learning and AI in general. Everyone who has worked within digital marketing can attest that today’s complexity of digital campaigns, with all the additional signals that need to be taken into account, a human mind can no longer effectively be in charge. Where, in earlier days, device and geo-location were the only additional considerations beyond the basic targeting, nowadays you have’ time of day’, ‘day in the week’, ‘pre-set audiences’, and much more.

A human might be able to make 10-20 different calculations a day and make tweaks to the advertising campaigns, but they wouldn’t be able to do that forever. The machine can make these calculations continuously without fail, and it could do this indefinitely. It’s no wonder that most digital marketing professionals are obsessed with automated bid strategies and feed-driven automation. In most cases, that comes with a premium bid management system.

The Case Against It

But not everyone should use a premium bid management system, let alone can afford one. The problem with most bid management systems is that they take away critical thinking from humans, especially nowadays where we are making the transition from automated bid strategies and separate budget pacing, to integrated budget management systems that include bid strategies. Larger agencies now just “set and forget” their campaigns, leading to a zero-sum game, where every advertiser kind of acts and bids the same, as everyone has the same systems.

Best of Both Worlds

A human eye is needed to spot abnormalities and opportunities within the stream of automation, bids and pacing adjustments. There is still a lot to say for accounts that are still firmly in human hands, that give it to attention and care it needs. That doesn’t mean you can’t automate, however. There are ways to script things into accounts like smart systems to automate Google ads, marrying the best of both worlds. A human is in control, supported by smart automation, but none of the black box mystery current automation offers.

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  • Marin Vuković

    It's better to use a mixture of automation and human expertise

  • Wayne Bestwick

    Google is the undisputed king of advertising

  • Zoe Dickinson

    We have more analytics than before

  • Alex Ludlam

    I’ve been thinking about this for years

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Anas Bouargane

Business Guru

Anas is the founder of CEF Académie, a platform that provides guidance and support for those willing to study in France. He previously interned at AlphaSense. Anas holds a bachelor degree in applied economics from the University Paris Sud.

   

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