Google's AI update lets small brands create search and display ads without an agency

The move follows on from a wholesale reset of Google’s adtech wares

Fresh from giving its ad tech stack the rebrand treatment, Google has launched an automated tool that will make it easier for small businesses to buy ads without an agency or in-house marketing expertise.

Dubbed Smart Campaigns, the feature was first launched in the US in June but will now roll out across the UK.

It asks businesses to select campaign goals (like sales or footfall) then creates relevant ads by coupling that information with data from an advertiser's website and Google Business listing. This information is also used to adjust a campaign’s keywords, bids and ad placements.

According to Google, early tests show it’s three-times more effective at getting ads in front of the right eyeballs than Google Ads’ previous products for this segment of the market.

The sample ads are created in minutes and can be delivered as Google search ads, display ads on the likes of Gmail or YouTube or in-app slots. Smart campaigns can automatically generate text and display ads to drive more traffic or calls to a business.

“Time is the critical commodity,” Kim Spalding, Google’s product manager director told The Drum. “What we see when we talk to small businesses of all sizes across all verticals is that they’re looking for online solutions that are simple and easy to use, and focused on the real results they care about. That's why we've built this, with those in mind.”

The move follows on from a wholesale reset of Google’s adtech wares. Earlier this year, it unified DoubleClick and Google Analytics to create the Google Marketing Platform. The end-to-end offering lets companies buy and monitor programmatic and programmatic guaranteed campaigns across display, video, TV, audio, and other channels, all in one place.

Google AdWords also rebranded to Google Ads, and Smart Campaigns will be the default offering when users click to buy here.

“We have been testing with a number of advertisers in a number of other markets as well as in the UK and so far the results have been really positive, we're optimistic about the launch," added Spalding.

The machine learning element of smart campaigns reduces the need for smaller firms to enlist agencies or hire in-house expertise, and comes as Google continues to double down on AI ad products like responsive search ads and smart bidding.

Google's tool is set to launch in other markets, and comes amid a slew of automated tools from its rivals that encroach on the space occupied by both digital and traditional agencies, including Adobe's Experience Cloud and Creative Cloud integration and Salesforce's myEienstein tool which lets developers of any skill build bots and create predictive models online.

Smart campaigns could also help Google compete with Facebook for small business dollars.

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