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Greetings readers! With all the buzz about AI and now AR/VR from Apple yesterday, this week’s PPCChat discussion sought experts’ views on AI being overly popular or overhyped, their thoughts about AR/VR technologies and their importance and more. Hosted by Julie F Bacchini, here is the screencap of the entire session.

Q1: Do you think that AI is being over, properly or under-hyped by tech platforms right now either generally or relative to PPC?

Over-hyped! Sure, AI is changing the game. But it’s not “killing SEO” or taking our jobs or any of the other hot takes I see on social media. @beyondthepaid

Way way way way way way over hyped …but that hardly distinguishes it from every other new technology in the space. We think every technology is going to be the magic bullet instead of focusing on marketing fundamentals that have worked regardless of technology. @MichealGumbert

I think in a lot of cases we’re conflating #machinelearning and #ai. There are a lot of really interesting updates in #ppc. I think they’re getting labelled AI to drive adoption. @navahf

Overhyped, for sure. I also don’t think that what is being called “AI” right now even is actual artificial intelligence. Machine learning is a much more accurate term (and what Apple is calling it, for what it’s worth!). @NeptuneMoon

When it comes to the scary take-all-the-jobs angle I think it’s overhyped. Where it is appropriately hyped is for how useful of a tool it can be in the strategic and creative process when creating campaign content or doing research. @AllyQuilty_MKTG

Overhyped on what it can do at a high-quality level of consistent outputs. It can make content. The content is average and based off the average content it found online. No one wants average. @duanebrown

I would say in general over-hyped. I think it is another tool and will probably continue to get more useful but I don’t see it replacing anyone (doing good work) anytime soon. @selley2134

Like @navahf said, Google is using the term AI instead of ML in order to stoke adoption. So my tongue-in-cheek answer would be: ML is a really big deal and a lot of PPC marketers aren’t paying enough attention to it.… @gilgildner

On the question of over hype/”under hype, there are some updates that deserve the excitement (audiences from e-conversions, creative, conversational campaign creation). Lumping them into #AI instead of celebrating them as what they are might be doing a disservice. @navahf

There is way too much chirpy optimism around AI at the moment. I worry a LOT about disinformation, local news and media, and the overall impact of ML and AI designed by one type of person, to be used by millions. @JuliaVyse

Overhyped at this point in time. It’ll be an important tool in our arsenal & will impact what we do/how people search…but it’s not there yet. Companies seem to throw it out almost as a buzzword rn (ex: Goog saying “machine learning” for years; now it’s “AI-driven”) @adclarke10

Until “AI” is properly used as a phrase, it’s over-hyped, risks degrading brand + consumer adoption. Little sense in polluting the waters with artificial interpretation (of the technology). @teabeeshell

We are probably overestimating in the short term, and underestimating in the long term. It’s hype, it’s a bit frothy, but there is a genuine reason why. @mikeryanretail

Overhyped. I trust George Santos more than what AI can bring to Paid Search. @JonKagan

it’s probably something to do with smart bidding — which is both (a) extremely powerful but still nowhere near its potential and (b) pretty much a complete black box. @DigitalSamIAm

Q2: What do you think are the best uses of what is currently referred to as “AI” in tech and ad platforms right now or in the future?

Ad creative at scale (whether LLMs for text or generative for product images). We have already started using Midjourney & GPT-4 for these uses, and although they still require human editing, it’s massively useful. @gilgildner

Assuming you have good inputs & enough volume – bidding. Generating ideas – writer’s block. For me that’s about it – I’m not letting it choose keywords or write ad copy or choose placements (for the most part) @selley2134

Everyone needs to pay attention to audiences built from enhanced conversions. It’s a powerful way to build audiences (especially for smaller folks). I’m also a big fan of conversational campaign creation and reporting (GA4) @navahf

The most exciting possibilities for “AI” relative to PPC for me are generating ideas and iterations of copy – for ads, landing pages, etc. Help with images (like Google talked about at GML) is also very promising & will be very helpful to many biz. @NeptuneMoon

Automating, or partially automated, tasks we are doing manually, eg writing ads and researching keywords. I also love the product image builder they showed at GML – game-changing. @beyondthepaid

I’m still not sure yet, I could see a use case where it is used to bring together different types of content and to look for similarities between the different pieces. @MichealGumbert

A2: I think there’s a lot we can do with heavy automation. It could be creative, product launches, bidding, larger scale implementations. I worry a lot about “audience insights” from very immature machines. @JuliaVyse

We have been using ChatGPT as an assistant when developing ad copy and landing page content. It still 100% needs human oversight to up-level the content, but it has sped up our process. I’ve also used it to help group large keyword lists. @AllyQuilty_MKTG

The creative support is a huge disrupter given the shortages of design resources. I’ll be interested to see how long these resources remain on the legal side of regulation. @navahf

Generative tools still strike me as the best use case. Quickly spinning up creative or copy can def save time in the brainstorming/build phase. That content still needs a human touch tho (& AI creative in particular makes me a little nervous bc of plagiarism issues) @adclarke10

I think merchant centre next is the most interesting to me, but I’m kind of curious about the Amazon version of this more than the one we know about. They’re being weirdly quiet. @JuliaVyse

It would be good for suggesting other keywords you might want to bid on,… if Google understood context better. Google should focus on optimization even more if it really wants to remove agencies as middle people. @duanebrown

The ability to *start* with generated creative (copy, imagery) saves time. It’s like a Sr. Copywriter requesting 30 headlines from a Jr. Copywriter. They distil the gems from the swill & iterate from there. As it stands today, that human filter remains necessary. @teabeeshell

Google’s knowledge graphs — their audience graph and their product graph. I love any features that let us peek through the ivy of the garden walls. Would love way more insights into Ads & MC. @mikeryanretail

I guess bid strategies. Technically it is AI and has been around as long as SEM has existed. This isn’t new, just has solid hype man. @JonKagan

Q3: What are your thoughts and/or feelings about VR (virtual reality), AR (augmented reality) and similar technologies being pushed by tech platforms currently?

Listen, I fully realize that I am old, but… I could not be less interested in this tech. Doing things in a virtual space holds zero appeal for me. @NeptuneMoon

Even though I won’t really be interested personally, it’s going to be huge – and Apple really demoed a sick product yesterday. I could see AR being massive in the future once it’s affordable for the casual consumer. Just like Macs and iPhones and all the rest. @gilgildner

Time will tell. I’m not big on them personally (they make me motion sick) but the applications could be very cool down the road. @beyondthepaid

So many!!! but here’s a precis: *AR/VR will change map, location, and discovery behaviours in real life. It’s very cool and coming faster than we think. *Those stupid headsets are expensive and only do one thing. *The metaverse is a live map, not a conf room. @JuliaVyse

It will bring a continued divide in society and the opportunity available to businesses. The expense of it is going to be out of reach for so many. The hardware and even advertising through it. @ppcliveuk

I love my Quest 2 (when I use it). Like, I get why it’s revolutionary tech. But we’re nowhere near that being widely adaptable, especially in a business setting. I think these are the first iterations of something that will be more common a decade from now. @PPCKirk

They have been pushing this since ~2016. Look where we are today. Changes happen slow until they don’t. With Apple’s Vision Pro, how will that impact progress… if any? So far customers have spoken with their wallets on this tech. @duanebrown

There is massive potential here but the bottleneck is, and has always been, the interface. Until we get AR lenses, it’s a niche product. @mikeryanretail

I have a slightly odd perspective because of my husband’s work in VR and AR… I truly believe there are certain industries and implementations that deserve attention (medical, learning, shopping). There are others that are all hype. @navahf

Sorry late, but AR/VR will be big one day. Think of us running ads for our clients on buildings inside a virtual environment other folks are interacting with. Celebrities in a game or environment promoting products. Not to mention seeing clothing, homes, etc.. @lchasse

Honestly pretty indifferent. AR is kinda cool, like when I was shopping for a desk chair & could use my phone camera to see the chair in my office space. I see more use cases for that than I do for VR right now, and a lot of VR stuff is just too expensive. @adclarke10

“Always has been”: If you want to learn more, read about Nintendo’s Virtual Boy – from prototype to end product. It was a stunning concept kneecapped by practical necessities. Many of the same issues still here 30 years later. @mikeryanretail

My litmus test for new tech is: Will this improve human lives? I’ve seen AR + VR power surgery, pain mgmt, L&D prep & edu in medicine. For consumables, a longer road. Eliminating store travel store or trying in-person may “save time.” Awaiting more practical uses. @teabeeshell

The essential question to ask is: “Did adding AR/VR make the thing better?” If the answer is no, I don’t know that we need to invest in it (i.e. meetings). @navahf

I think it’s much more likely we’ll see AR implementations to teach heart surgery remotely than to get everyone on Earth into a virtual work environment. blend of VR/AR in the near future. @JuliaVyse

With each one, it feels like we are getting what people want to develop & less like something that is designed to benefit the majority of people. Also, I’m really uncomfortable with not being able to tell the difference between the real & digital worlds. @MichealGumbert

With the exception of apparel and automotive, it is nothing more than pretty smoke and mirrors. @JonKagan

I think AR is actually quite useful, and platforms like Amazon have done a fantastic job using it to solve actual customer problems (like will this fit in my room, or how will this article of clothing look on me). VR – much harder and more nuanced sell. It seems like…… @DigitalSamIAm

Love this answer from @navahf. Some industries – definitely needed. Some – naaah! @ppcliveuk

Q4: Do you think that AR/VR have an important role to play in our future tech interactions? And how, if at all, do you see this impacting PPC?

Call me an idealist, but I really do see a future reality where everyone utilizes some form of AR, somehow in normal everyday life. I guess we’ll see what happens! Lots of innovation that needs to happen (especially around privacy and safety) first. @PPCKirk

By the time AR is prevalent in day-to-day use, I’ll just have to click a button in Performance Ultra X 2000 Max in order to deploy my ads to goggles worldwide. @gilgildner

Ads in our contact lenses obviously. relevance! close customer relations! extreme reach! @JuliaVyse

Probably, but not in the next 2-3 years for society. Might be an ugly ad extension in SEM in the near future that’ll go the way of G+ Google Wave Enhanced Campaigns Overture Click to Text Extensions Theranos etc. @JonKagan

Yes. On #ppc: I see most of the impact on shopping, travel, and other industries where being able to see a virtual version of something will help with commerce. I could see AR codes being linked into feeds for additional placements.  @navahf

I have absolutely no idea what you would use this for other than creating some sort of digital experience, but I would say you’d be better off using that budget for non-digital experiences and building community. @MichealGumbert

I might be in the minority but I think VR will be very niche in the near future. I do think Ads will make their way into those niches but it won’t be widespread. I’m thinking mainly video game type uses (sims, next life, etc.) If you are using for job training less ads. @selley2134

I am not sold on AR/VR becoming part of the majority of people’s daily lives. At least not at this juncture. But I do know that when/if it is, ads will most certainly have a place in the AR/VR environments! @NeptuneMoon

Yes, absolutely. Simple things like trying on clothing, seeing the inside of a home for sale, driving a car before buying, etc… Having ads inside of games or if someone is taking virtual trips to places. Even the clothing your likeness would have on. @lchasse

Okay here’s my real one, it will not be a surprise: road safety & directions/findability. Daily tasks that make things easier, clearer, more likely to go well will fit seamlessly with some of the machines that we currently have. @JuliaVyse

I will say, if we think there are mental issues and addictions from social media it will be worse with AR/VR when they get really good. @lchasse

I think the tech has to get better & more accessible before it starts to play a big role. Thinking futuristically for PPC, things like OOH billboards could evolve into digital placements for VR/AR ads (kinda like CTV). VR/AR in Ecomm could become more prominent too. @adclarke10

I don’t try to predict the future. I either help make it or watch by the sidelines. @duanebrown

As with anything, adoption pushes the snowball down the hill. Headset wearers could see… – Exclusive sales in-store – Reorder prompts for near-empty dish detergent containers – Bird feeder ads when one flies into view Have to stay at least with the curve. @teabeeshell

Q5: What is the most exciting tech advancement relative to PPC that is happening now and why is it exciting?

Relative to PPC………. hmmm….definitely lurking and waiting for people to enlighten me on this one! @ppcliveuk

I’d say Merchant Centre Next is the big one related to PPC. The overall setup and process of MC is very cumbersome to businesses of all sizes, and this is the solution. make it seamless and get back to strategy! @JuliaVyse

My answer is vague because the tech feels vague (to us) but there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. Automated matching, audiences, and “intent pursuit” is getting way better behind the scenes at Google, but it’s slowly working more effectively for advertisers. @gilgildner

Conversational enhancements (creative, campaign building, and reports). I love how easy finding and creating things is now compared to 4-5 years ago. @navahf

The most exciting thing I see in terms of tech is the small but noticeable pushback against all the tech. Each tech development we were promised the world & got nowhere near that so now I think people are starting to see it isn’t the tech that drives performance. @MichealGumbert

This would be my A5 answer as well. I am assuming this is going to pave the way for not having to have feeds and maybe needing fewer engineering resources to get stuff done. Especially if we not longer have to wait for resources to prioritize projects. @lchasse

As a former designer, I am thrilled to hope that the quality of images across the web are about to get a lot better! The struggle for quality visual content (still or video) is so real for so many businesses. Maybe ideas won’t get stuck at “need images” phase? @NeptuneMoon

I would love if AI could place tracking codes on websites for us. Such a big pain point for so many advertisers. @beyondthepaid

Very early days but in 12 more months, PMax will be the game changer that Google wants it to be. GMC Next also sounds interesting. @duanebrown

Hurts to say but almost the only answer can be: “Whatever Google wants to do next” The platform is better-understood, and less open to third parties than it was a few years ago. Shorter horizons. Cookieless is a chaos factor here though & MMM is quite interesting. @mikeryanretail

I’m intrigued by some of the creative tools announced in GML – responsive formats have already been a move toward simplifying creative but there are more options out there now to make it easy to build assets for all the different formats needed. @timothyjjensen

Once it fully rolls out to everyone, I am trying to make the best of a bad situation, by getting excited about brand exclusions for Pmax.  @JonKagan

Search intent has always been my biggest critique of Google specifically. Either they can’t recognize it as well as claimed OR haven’t released that capability to advertisers en masse. If that needle moves, game-changer. I’m seeing flickers, waiting w/ bated breath. @teabeeshell

Q6: What is the most concerning and/or overhyped tech advancement relative to PPC that is happening now and why is it concerning?

I honestly think paid social is in a weird place & has been massively overvalued in the past few years, and that trend will likely, unfortunately, continue (thinking Snap, TikTok, and IG’s clones of the above) @gilgildner

Most? *Privacy *abuse *misinfo/disinfo *spend management If all these seem pretty broad and more social impact than PPC, then you’re not running campaigns for govs right now. @JuliaVyse

I mean, where do we start?: -ChatGPT -Pmax -Bing Linkedin Targeting -Platforms caring about privacy -GA4 Everyone one of these is a dog whistle, only 2 actually do anything of substance for SEM. Everything else is an ulcer waiting to happen. @JonKagan

In terms of specific tech advancements where the tech is built with ppc in mind: homogenization. Everything is about to look all. the. same. @JuliaVyse

I have 2 elements of concern. 1 – Privacy with all the VR/AR. We haven’t even talked about how your privacy can be impacted by others’ use of that tech potentially. 2 – Intellectual Property radically changing from how we currently know it. @NeptuneMoon

Most concerning for me are the “Smart” – non-expert – accounts that Google & bing try to get small biz to set up. The ML isn’t there yet to be able to set up an account and let it run but platforms are pushing that option & actually costing SMBs money b/c they waste. @selley2134

The most concerning thing as a marketer will be legal aspects of all these advancements. Legal issues are going to be challenged quickly. It will be a brand new frontier and 70+ year-old politicians will in many cases have no idea what is even being talked about. @lchasse

It’s brand/advertiser control. We’re a few clicks away from Google saying, “No no, hands off, we got it from here.” That feels dangerous. We have no (real) alternative to Google’s domination of the internet. Perhaps Amazon, which may be closer to that reality. @teabeeshell

Any technology that promises it is going “change everything” to is both concerning and overhyped. When they make sweeping statements like that it’s over-selling combined with a clear lack of understanding it seems of how marketing, esp. within corps., works. @MichealGumbert

I think it’s appropriate for brands/advertisers to always have one hand on the steering wheel. Otherwise, how do brands promote themselves efficiently? Cost controls are vital in preserving brands’ profits, not just those of platforms. Should be preserved. @teabeeshell

We don’t need to change just for the sake of change …there is a middle ground we’ve yet to find between that and refusing to change. But, again, I don’t think technology is where we will find it …it will be base on principles that reflect the world as it is. @MichealGumbert

I want to be balanced here… Google’s Smart Bidding Yes it works Yes it’s problematic Probably no one has written about this more or better than @PPCKirk Until some DOJ authors inevitably steal his crown. @mikeryanretail

After gaming AR will likely see a big adoption in the content category. I would love an immersive NBA game experience without the cost of courtside tickets. AR holds potential for CTV and video ads. @ppcnitish

I don’t know if I’m concerned about tech advancements per se, but with the reporting that has dropped in conjunction with those advancements. Those two things do not have to happen simultaneously and Google does themselves a disfavor when they pair them. @PPCKirk

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