Non Mingito in Natatoria

A new report on the PPC industry is out... Google's training its AI on your public Docs... Hootsuite buys a listening platform... and more.

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ONLINE ADS • The State of the PPC Industry in 2024

Every other week, our Google ads correspondent Jyll Saskin Gales walks us through the latest platform changes. Jyll spent six years at Google in a senior ad role, and today runs the Inside Google Ads training program.¹

The 2024 State of PPC Global Report just came out, and it's quite comprehensive — 60 pages of paid ads industry analysis and insights, based on input from more than 1000 professionals.

This week, our Google Ads correspondent Jyll Saskin Gales joined me to break down the most important parts of the report.

Takeaways:

  • Finding PPC talent is the biggest challenge in the industry.

  • Exact Match keywords the most widely used in Google Ads.

  • DemandGen campaigns and display prospecting have low adoption.

  • Generative AI is used for writing ads and emails, but not for analyzing performance.

Be sure to check out Jyll’s Inside Google Ads training program¹

Today’s Trivia — Guess and Win!

Each month, we pick someone who guesses in a trivia question and comp them the Premium Newsletter! Just click on any option below:

Which platform had the highest sales-per-click in the PPC industry?

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TV ADS • Can We Finally Make Them Truly Personal?

Imagine watching the Super Bowl and instead of everyone getting the same commercial breaks, your ads are tailor-made just for you. That's the promise of dynamic ad insertion, and Marketing Brew has a great piece on their site about it.

This past Super Bowl, while millions saw Beyoncé promoting her new album in a Verizon ad, the future could have served up something completely different for each viewer based on personal tastes.

This concept isn't flawless, though. Marketing executive Dan Rayburn, quoted in the piece, pointed out that while the idea is great for personalization, it's got its share of problems, mainly that it doesn't always work as intended on a large scale. But, experts believe there's potential if these issues can be smoothed over.

Right now, the most dependable method is the traditional "burned-in ads" that everyone sees.

There is some hope that generative AI tools could potentially be used in the future to help deliver personalized creative efficiently—and, in some cases, create those personalized ads, too….

[One executive] used the example of a hypothetical McDonald’s ad campaign to demonstrate how AI could convert user data into targeted ad creative: One viewer might see an ad promoting a Big Mac, while another might get an ad featuring french fries.

“The interesting thing about generative AI is that it could, to an extent, dynamically stitch those assets together on the fly, based on the understanding of a [consumer’s] predilections toward certain McDonald’s foods”…

This has always been the sales pitch to consumers for purchase tracking opt-ins, like loyalty programs. “Let us track what you buy, and we’ll turn those irrelevant ads into ads that you actually want to see.”

But when push came to shove, the level of customization the marketing industry has been able to set up has been broad, at best. And consumers caught on, choosing privacy over an unfulfilled promise of increased relevancy.

If the industry can get this right, though, it might have the potential to turn some of those opt-outs back into opt-ins.

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AI • Google Plans to Use Public Docs to Train AI

You may have heard media reports this week that Google plans to take publicly available Google Docs and use them for AI training.

And if you’re like me, you were like “Wait, I’m sorry, what now?!”

Yes, Google says not only does it plan to use publicly available Google Docs for its training, it already has vacuumed up a bunch.

But don’t worry, it’s not quite what you think.

Google says it will distinguish between documents you meant to make widely public, and those that you made open to anyone who has the specific link.

While both are public, Google will assume that if the document is shared on social media or from a web site, that you’re okay with using that for training — which, you know, you might not be, but those are the rules now.

In other words, Google’s web crawler would need to be able to find it on the public web. That’s unlikely to happen with a file you and a colleague exchange.

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VIDEO • Turn Your Google Sheets into a Video

Speaking of Google Docs, you’re probably familiar with the main document types: Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms — this week, Google announced those would soon have a new baby sibling: Videos. Or, as they’ll be called, Google Vids.

This hasn’t been released to the public yet, so all we have so far is a promotional video that’s heavy on flashy animation and light on details — that could be because it seems to be a little less than they’re making it out to be.

Google Vids, as shown in their promotion, appear to be auto-playing Slides presentations, with some lightweight AI helping add backgrounds and voiced narration.

Like all Google products after the rise of OpenAI, Google pitches Vids as an "AI-powered" video editor, even though there didn't seem to be many generative AI features in the presentation.

The videos, images, and music were "stock" media, not AI-generated inventions (Slides can generate images, but that wasn't in this demo).

There's nothing in here like OpenAI's "Sora," which generates new videos out of its training data.

There's probably a Gemini-powered "help me write" feature for the script, and Google describes the initial outline as "generated" from your starting Slides presentation, but that seemed to be it.

Google Vids is scheduled to be released to their beta channel in June, and domain administrators will be able to opt in to testing it then.

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M&A • Hootsuite to Buy Talkwalker (Because AI!!!)

The social media management platform Hootsuite says it will acquire Talkwalker, a site that monitors social mentions.

The financial details remain under wraps, but this partnership will fill the listening gap that Hootsuite has had for years. Users will be able to set up keyword alerts and monitor mentions in deeper ways than what’s currently available in Hootsuite.

The acquisition comes at an interesting time, given the rising costs of API access, particularly with X and Reddit, both of which are staples in any social listening tool.

It also comes at a time when companies are desperate to talk up AI even if that hype is a little overstated. Here’s part of Hootsuite’s news release on the acquisition:

By bringing together two complementary category leaders, businesses will, for the first time, have a social media performance engine to turn insights into action into impact - all fueled by AI.

Hootsuite announcement

I have a Talkwalker account. There’s no AI in it — I mean, no new AI. And even then, there hasn’t really been any unless you consider the site being run by computers qualifies as “artificial intelligence.”

Talkwalker is a giant suction hose attached to the web and APIs. It hoovers up millions of pieces of content, indexes them, and makes it searchable and chartable.

To say that this whole thing has been “fueled by AI” is a little disingenuous and feels… I don’t know… desperate?

Hootsuite anticipates wrapping up this acquisition by the second quarter of this year. The company says it has 200,000 users.

So, This Guy Wins Marketer of the Year, Right?

Do you remember when you were a kid and you went to the swimming pool, and they told you “Listen, if you pee in the swimming pool, it will glow blue all around you. There's a chemical they put in the water, and when you pee it will it'll reveal that you have urinated in the pool, and you'll be horribly embarrassed.”

This week, I discovered that's there's no such thing. (Honestly, how did I get to past 50 years old and still bought into this mythology?!)

The way I found it out was there's this YouTube channel that I follow about hot tub maintenance. And the owner has started selling literally an empty bottle with a big label that reads “Urine Detector.”

The idea is you put is conspicuously near the hot tub or pool, people see it, and voila! Nobody will pee! I’m going to bet that this works really, really well.

If this isn’t the single most impressive piece of product marketing this year, I don’t know what is.

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