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Can Google resist taking complete control?

I’m not sure whether or not it was easier or harder to place advertising 30 years ago. When the choice was a range of magazines and perhaps the odd poster at an exhibition, nobody could compare either the medium or the advertisement content. It was possible to change the offer from month to month, sure, but was the audience truly the same, given the time between the ads? And were the trackable response numbers statistically significant enough? Probably not. But then again, if it’s not possible to make comparisons, it’s not possible to be proven ‘wrong’ either. That’s why the most successful magazines were always those with the most sociable ad sales reps.

Now it’s a proper science. Different websites can be tested on a pretty equitable basis. Ad copy can be trialled in real time. It’s amazing.

It’s also an opportunity that’s wasted by most advertisers.

The vast majority just select their medium (usually Google search), create a few ads, tell Google to work out which one performs best, and leave things to run themselves. It’s mainly those companies who employ specialist agencies to manage the advertising who get the benefit of constant optimisation of the campaigns, at least if the agencies are doing their job properly.

User interaction: Google’s weak point

Google’s attitude to agencies is torn. On one hand, it wants advertisers to manage their campaigns directly, not using up any budget on agency fees. But it also wants the adverts to perform well, to keep the spending going, and campaigns left languishing tend to not work as well as those maintained more actively. Fortunately for agencies, Google has never been able to make optimising campaigns easy enough for advertisers to want to do it themselves. Everything about running Google Ads was designed by hardcore computer geeks and requires users to be of a similar disposition. As a company, Google doesn’t seem to be able to do things any other way, and the often incomprehensible new ‘GA4’ Google Analytics shows that nothing’s going to change.

Agencies such as BMON will continue to be able to provide a cost-effective service in the medium term. If Google wants to get rid of the middle-man, they will have to force them out, by automating control of campaigns to such an extent that the advertiser (or their agency) has very little scope to make manual adjustments, instead forcing them to hand over control to machine learning. In the B2B arena, that will be a mistake, because few of us want our company to be represented by adverts that a machine has written and we haven’t approved.