How Close Are We to Search Engine Marketing Running Itself?

We are well on our way with the fourth Industrial Revolution, and the internet is alive … almost.

artificial intelligence

All around the web are speculations regarding artificial intelligence (AI) and the future of our civilization. The idea that computers will take over the majority of jobs in the workplace today has become well accepted. Some careers will be destroyed, although many more will be born as a result.

From the great benefits to the potential risks to our species, some of our modern day economic titans have expressed their hopes and concerns. A few examples …

Warren Buffett stated that he believes AI will kill jobs but is ultimately good for society.

Elon Musk is attempting to morph nature and technology with his new idea for Neuralink, a company he is launching to merge man and machine

And Mark Cuban thinks that the world’s first trillionaire will be as a result of AI.

So what? How does this affect your day to day, or even your future?

What if I said that this future applies to PPC search engine marketing? We’re talking about the wave of SEM automation and the not-far-off day when search engine marketing runs itself.

In this article:

PPC’s History

To understand the trajectory of SEM automation, let’s take a brief look at PPC history. (launched in 1997) successfully pioneered the pay-for-placement search marketing business model, which at the time was strictly based on pay-per-click.

The more a company was willing to spend per click, the higher its ad would appear in the sponsored ads section of the search engine results page. So the companies with more money to invest were able to gain an advantage. Search Results in 2001 search engine results page screenshot in 2001.
Google home page in 2001 home page screenshot in 2001.

Then Google launched AdWords and improved the previous business model.

Google incorporated good user experience into the judgment of placements on the search results pages and rewarded advertisers with lower CPCs and better positions. Advertisers with better quality ads and bigger budgets had an advantage.

Over the years, more improvements were introduced, giving advertisers more control over how their ads were displayed. This allowed for a more targeted approach that resulted in a lower CPA for them and better-targeted ads for their customers.

With more advertisers adding product after product to their advertising portfolios, managing thousands of campaigns, ad groups, keywords and bids became a real challenge for both agencies and business owners.

Smart Automation Ramps Up in SEM

With all of the bidding options offered by Google, it was difficult managing all of them efficiently.

So bid management tools were developed. As the industry grew, there were constantly new opportunities to improve an advertiser’s efficiency with their Return on Ad Spend (ROAS).

Since the opportunities were too many, machine learning bots were introduced to monitor, learn and run much of the bidding off of history, device, time of day, location, etc. We use the power of PPC automation tools to automate some of the common tedious and time-consuming tasks associated with data gathering and CPA optimization. Paid search campaigns are efficiently and automatically adjusted 48 times each day — far more than a human can manage alone.

Every day, the bots monitor and gather more information, allowing them to make better decisions. Each time a user conducts a search, it is a new opportunity for the bots to learn to become more efficient in maximizing profits and decrease an advertiser’s wasted spend.


Each account becomes a custom bidding portfolio, assuming it has been set up correctly. Over time and with data, the bots learn, increasing either click-through percentage or conversions while lowering CPAs/CPLs, depending on the client’s needs.

In time, the automation portion of web marketing increases alongside AI. An effective, streamlined marketing experience, a better user experience, and more profits for the search engines are the results.

We see news about machine learning technologies in the online advertising space every day. Platforms are being built and leveraged in this space more and more.

Today’s Machine Learning Advances

So, who is the real winner when every business gets to take advantage of machine learning? Everyone involved! Why?

Advertisers win because the bots optimize for their specific website and its audience, factoring in all traceable micro-moments in the process. There will always be competition for traffic and conversions, but since each site is slightly different, bots can optimize for that specific site and its audience.

If a site is winning conversions at a certain time of day with a certain set of keywords, then the competitors can also win, either with a slightly different set of keywords or at a slightly different time of day. Where two advertisers go head to head on a specific set of keywords at a specific time of day, account structure usually wins, as better structured accounts usually have a higher Quality Score.

Search engines win because a better user experience means more clicks, which results in more exposure and more revenue.

What’s Next for PPC?

Why isn’t all of this automated yet? Ideally, I believe we need to be living in a digital world where a non-tech-savvy small business owner has access to an SEO-optimized website generated by a smart bot.

The only work for the business owner would be to fill out a questionnaire with business and industry information, in order to guide the bot in the right direction.

Data and analysis by artificial intelligence should allow for an effective site to build itself, customizing and building for user experience.

Once the site is built and ready, the social media bots can begin the buzz to introduce the brand to the public.

Meanwhile, based on industry information gathered about the business and its competitors, an effectively built SEM account emerges, applying years of learning and best practices to begin and improve performance, to hit and exceed the client’s goals.

The bots will do it all, with the small business owner having zero knowledge of how the industry works. All he or she knows is that it works well and provides a positive return on investment, which is enough reason to increase budgets and ultimately profits.

robotic hand

The best part is that digital marketing applies to just about all industries, growing businesses time and again, industry after industry. So when will SEM run itself? In many ways, the transition is happening now.

And what does a business need to do to take advantage of the benefits provided when robots fine-tune and manage SEM?

Although we are on our way, I think it will still be a long time before the industry is efficiently automated. Until then, the business opportunities need to be captured through a competent search marketing agency. Especially one that utilizes nearly two decades of experience in building and scaling performance-driven client campaigns through experience and data.

Success is assessed through efficient client account growth, achieved in time through intelligence and effort. After 20-plus years helping shape this industry, we have built the talent and environment to start your efficient paid digital campaigns or scale them to the next level.

Are you ready to increase your digital profits? Contact us today.

See Armen's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (19)
Filed under: PPC/Pay-Per-Click
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19 Replies to “How Close Are We to Search Engine Marketing Running Itself?”

Future will be very amazing :)

It is an interesting article. I think we can surely expect more automation in the search industry in the future. I thought Google AdWords was the first PPC platform. But after reading this content I understood that Google created a much better PPC platform version than goto.

AI is being developed because it computes faster than humans do, and it’s work is cheaper. Computing so many data, like on site-optimization, offsite-optimization, backlinks and their quality is so much work, that on bigger scale its need to be done by programmes – and we already have such programmes that help us with seo – like ahrefs, semrush, majestic, and so on.

I really enjoyed this article. Because I learned a lot of new things from your blog. We are using paid ads also for social media but sometimes we cant a large audience online. What is the reason for that? How to reach the right audience and large audiences? Can you give me any suggestions for that?

There are already technologies that do this now and many more are being developed.

This will inadvertently make it easier for us and cheaper for our clients.

Awesome post by the way

Honestly, I never thought about this before. I agree that a lot of jobs will be killed but a lot of new jobs will be created thanks to AI. Time flies and sooner or later AI will take over a lot of Google daily tasks if not yet.

Thanks for posting your valuable thoughts with us & our readers. Please keep coming & continue commenting on this blog.

White Hat Website promotion gives us long term search engine ranking.

Thanks for sharing this awesome post with us

Very interesting concept but we can not automate everything. thanks

The speed with which AI is advancing the day on which every PPC and SEO task will be replaced by AI is getting closer and closer. People will become more and more dependent from robots. AI will track everything and will be able to predict everything in advance. There will be a lot of extinct trades. I hope all this will help the humanity to advance and reach its full potential rather than see “Terminator” scenario.

Paula Allen

Charlie: So do I.

Very interesting concept, I think AI will inevitably make ppc optimization more efficient. I don’t think the impact on SEO will be as extensive but we’ll see what happens!

We can not automate everything. Especially in marketing activities. Robot / Algorithm not buy, only man.

I kind of think it will be sooner than we imagine. There are almost tools for everything these days ranging from PPC, content creation and Social Media.

Al may take jobs away but it also offers much greater potential to the ever-adapting marketers

Automated paid bidding has been accessible for some time however, often it is the human/robot collaboration which derrives the competitive edge – something that I believe will continue for some time. For seo I see this collaboration being equally important but, less robot led that within the paid environment. The main factors supporting that being the added need for creativity within the earned media space.

I can already see a little bit of automation with WordPress plugins like Yoast that can tell you specifically what to change or improve upon based on their algorithm. I think the first step to SEM automation has already begun – with these apps that give us recommendations for what it thinks will help us.

Agreed to what Andy said above. At the rate in which AL is going, it is not only PPC that will be monitored, but also many other things.
AL is here to stay and many things will on the way we advertise online and such such things like jobs will surely give way.

I can see PPC being monitored by AI in much larger ways than SEO… but ya never know ;-)


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