4 min read December 19, 2018 Simon Hall Why Automation is Key to Your SEM SuccessThe online advertising industry, like many other industries today, is awash with the terms “Artificial Intelligence” and “Machine Learning” — two buzzwords that by now are common parlance in SEM. Yet despite this recent, exponentially growing interest, publishers and advertisers have barely scratched the surface of what these terms mean and just how they can fuel data driven decision-making with automation in order to propel better and more consistent results.In an era when data equals currency, the ability for automated solutions to identify and surface critical insights at deeper levels of granularity than previously possible will become a tool of paramount importance for digital marketing professionals. In the short term, they can inform new strategies and leave time for more campaign creativity. In the long term, they will undoubtedly change the very economics of the industry.So, how does automation impact advertising? How does it work and what are the benefits? We take a look.Streamlined ProcessesThe term itself refers to platforms and software executing processes automatically without need for human intervention, which affect areas that include inventory quality, ad effectiveness and marketing intelligence. Employing automation in any marketing stack will help reduce — or eliminate altogether — many of the manual, redundant processes that create impediments in a complex digital media ecosystem.In a recent panel discussion about artificial intelligence, Phil Gaughran, the U.S. chief integration officer at McGarryBowen agency, boldly predicted that by 2022, 80% of advertising processes will be automated — a threshold he claims will never be surpassed due to experiential marketing tactics that will always require hands-on involvement. “[This means] a changing job description in terms of what it means to work in advertising, unlocking a huge well of opportunity” he said.As the field of online advertising matures and rapidly expands, so too has the sheer quantity of data involved. Where search marketers once used to manually manage campaigns and bids with spreadsheets, modern day-to-day practitioners — even at the most basic level — are dealing with clicks that contain significant amounts of information relating to key modifiers such as location, time (time of day, day of week, etc.) and device (desktop, mobile, and tablet). Expert analytics professionals at DXC Technology expect annual data generation by companies to increase by a daunting 4,300% by 2020. While all of this data is clearly priceless when it comes to forming a robust marketing game plan, it is simply impossible to parse, dissect, and interpret manually — even with a team of data analysts. And many marketers are completely uncertain how to even get started.This is where automation comes in.How Can Automation Work for Your Business?The best aspects of automated marketing platforms are glaringly apparent to the majority of industry watchers and are becoming increasingly popular — largely because data driven decisions are now integral to every company’s processes and goals.But just why is automation key? The short answer is that it saves both money and time.An uptick in ROI. Every single keyword in an online marketing program has a unique bid level at which it drives the highest return at the lowest price possible. Automated technology backed by data science and machine learning algorithms can predict the ideal bids at a given time on a given day at the individual keyword level, ensuring that valuable budget is never wasted while simultaneously maximizing returns on what is spent. For most modern platforms, this unparalleled optimization becomes automatic over time, as the software continuously learns and improves, empowering businesses to outpace their competition and uncover opportunities that would otherwise remain undiscovered.An optimized working day. While checking and analyzing data for an individual modifier, keyword, product, or ad group is a useful exercise, repeating this for hundreds, thousands, or even millions of keywords in a given portfolio is simply unrealistic from a time or resource standpoint. By replacing these repetitive tasks with automated campaigns and guidelines, marketers will inevitably free up time to concentrate on alternative tasks that can drive brand awareness and demand generation.A World of PossibilitiesAutomated online advertising ultimately makes it possible for digital marketing teams to engage with, and be discovered by, their desired target audiences while allowing them to take care of other meaningful responsibilities.A marketer wears many different hats and consequently, such tools are extremely valuable to have in their arsenal. From predicting the most profitable bids and extracting hidden insights to creating a highly efficient, time-saving environment, automation empowers businesses and organizations of any size and structure to solve advertising problems at far greater scale than previously thought possible.