What the heck is... machine learning?

9th July 2019
What the heck is... machine learning?

Machine learning has been steadily edging its way into the mainstream for years.

Starting out in the 60s as a computer learning how to play draughts, machine learning is now most recognisable in auto-reply chatbots and personal streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify.

It is a  process in which a machine learns a set of rules and systems over a period of time to automatically get better and better at performing the task. In doing so, this takes the pressure and workload off of humans.

While the above process might sound like a prelude to The Terminator, we’re taking a look at how machine learning can perform digital marketing (rather than murder).

Machines and marketing

Using machine learning in marketing usually revolves around Pay Per Click advertising (PPC).

The idea is that a PPC Account Manager uses automation software to help spot trends, execute routine-based tasks or simply crunch numbers. So although most of the menial work leans on the software, the Account Manager is required to set up parameters that the software can learn from, therefore the process can only be as good as the human controlling it.

Smart bidding is another form of PPC machine learning. The machine/software is given a ranging budget, and over time, will be able to determine the best ad spend for different campaigns.

So if it’s this easy, everyone must be doing it, surely?

Marketers have been talking about automated PPC software for a few years now, and while a lot of what has been said about machine learning is positive, it’s not taken off hugely just yet.

Bidding algorithms (smart bidding) have been at the forefront of machining learning in PPC, but it’s not yet at the stage where a machine could take on a complete campaign from start to finish.

Our Verdict

At the moment, AI-based digital marketing software is just a helping hand - it’s still in its infancy.

It’s great for smart bidding and automating optimisation tasks, but on the whole, it can’t foresee the campaign’s direction, try new ideas or make suggestions based on data as well as a PPC professional.

AI and machine learning can be a bit of a buzzword when it comes to new business technologies, but don’t be fooled by the fancy words - paying a PPC professional is still your best bet.

Interested in a Pay Per Click campaign?