Big Tech Problems Part 2 – Google

Last week I described how Facebook’s Artificial Intelligence advertising review system was a little too much of a “Big Brother” for my liking. This week I’ll discuss how Google’s AI engine isn’t your best friend either.

When someone searches for “cremation service near me” there are three parts of the webpage Google displays.

  1. Google Ads – displayed at the bottom and sometimes the top of the page
  2. Google My Business listings – the three business listings displayed beside a map of the local area
  3. Google Search Results – the web pages listed under the map. These are referred to as organic listings.

The problem I’ll highlight today involves Google Ads.

Google Ads generates 80% of Google’s revenue. Last year that amounted to $147 Billion. That’s a lot of money!!

Just down the road from me is Ann Arbor, Michigan, home to the University of Michigan and a large Google campus dedicated to Google Ads. Thousands of engineers, software developers, and account managers are all focused on growing Google Ads revenue.

By the way, the number one position being recruited for at that particular Google campus is…Artificial Intelligence developer.

We primarily use Google Ads for driving traffic to discount cremation offers. The client typically has a partingpro or efuneral site, and the goal is to get more traffic to the online arrangement tools.

About three months ago, we had two new clients ask us to take over their Google Ads campaigns. Another vendor had set up the campaigns, but the clients were disappointed with the results.

When setting up a Google Ads campaign, you have an important choice to make right up front. You can provide minimal information and let Google’s Artificial Intelligence engine create and manage the campaign for you. Or, you can go through a manual process that is pretty tedious and requires you to have a better understanding of how to structure a Google Ads campaign.

Interestingly enough, when you start the setup process, Google STRONGLY recommends letting their AI engine do the work for you. They have warnings all over the place trying to encourage you to let their “experts” set up the campaign.

The other vendors had chosen to let the Google AI engine do the tedious work, whereas our campaigns were created using the manual approach. 

We set up the same budget limit, let the new campaign run for 60 days, and compared our results to the AI campaign. We took the average of the two campaigns, and here are the results…

Ad impressions – which is the number of times someone saw the clients ad – up 287%

Clicks – people who clicked on the ad and went to the arrangement tool – up 72%

Cost per click – how much we paid for each person who clicked – down 57%

In other words, 287% more people saw our clients’ brands, and 72% more people clicked through to the website. Keep in mind that the budget didn’t change just the outcome.

Overall, our manually created campaign performed significantly better than Google’s AI created campaign. And, this was before we optimized the campaign. I expect the results to be even better over the next few months.

Google received the same money from both the AI and manual campaigns, but our client received significantly better results from our manual campaign.

So why would Google strongly encourage you to use their AI engine when doing it manually works so much better?

The answer is pretty simple. Google doesn’t want your ads; they want your money. And, the faster they use up your budget, the faster they can move on to the next advertisers’ budget and empty that one too.

To make matters worse, their AI-generated campaign had several blatant errors. For example, they were bidding on “pet cremation” yet neither client offered that service. Plus, the ads shut off at 5 pm every day probably because that was the office hours on the websites.

The lesson here is that when Google says they will make something easier for you, it means your costs will go up and your results will go down. 

Yes, it’s easier, but you’re paying a hefty penalty for agreeing to let AI handle it for you.

Until next time



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