How to master Google Ads in the age of AI & algorithms?

How to master Google Ads in the age of AI & Algorithms?

Google ads blue robot ai and algorithms

Short Summary - 1 min read

Why should you be interested in Google Ads, AI and algorithm changes?

If you are an owner, CEO, investor or senior marketing leader and you work for a company that spends a lot of money with Google Ads, then this article is for you. Essentially, it is mission critical that you are confident that the professionals you hired to manage your Google Ads (it also applies to Meta and LinkedIn Ads) have a detailed understanding of the changes, challenges and solutions described in this article. Otherwise, your business will be missing out on several revenue or cost-saving opportunities.

Briefly, what has changed with Google Ads in recent years?

  • AI – Google Ads is now totally focused on AI, it is everywhere
  • Algorithms – there is a need now to learn how to feed Google Ads’ algorithm
  • Data loss – privacy concerns are blocking data from the algorithm
  • The speed of change – Google Ads became 100% AI focused within 6 years

Briefly, what are the solutions to these Google Ads' challenges?

  1. Advanced conversion tracking
  2. Server-side tracking
  3. Google Ad account consolidation
  4. Stay updated on Google Ads and broader conversion tracking changes

What type of businesses will be impacted by these Google Ads changes?

  • Companies that do business online – both DTC (order, sales) & B2B (leads).
  • Companies advertising using Google (& Meta also).
  • Companies that manage their online ads via both in-house or agency teams.

Further Reading - 4-5 min read

What has changed with Google Ads and why you need to take action

  1. AI – focus & everywhere:- Conversion signals are now even more critical.
    Accurate conversion tracking has become even more critical with Google Ads. The Google Ads platform now heavily relies on AI, which require substantial conversion signals to function effectively.
    Solution: Research & implement advanced conversion tracking.

  2. Algorithms – the need to feed:- Google Ads campaigns now need to be structured with AI & algorithms in mind.
    Previously, Google Ads’ account structure focused on tightly matched campaigns, ad groups, keywords and ads. However, the current emphasis is on larger, more comprehensive campaigns, ad groups and keywords. Responsive ads, with AI determining ad formation, are now the norm. This structural change aims to leverage the potential of AI to accelerate learnings to identify growth opportunities and to improve performance.
    Solution: Account consolidation.

  3. Data loss:- General privacy concerns leading to data loss.
    Privacy concerns have led to increased control over personal data, resulting in the rise of ad blockers, consent mode and the impending end of third-party cookies (Chrome possibly by early 2025). Unfortunately, this means businesses will experience a significant loss of valuable data, unless they address the challenges.
    Solution: Research & implement server-side tracking.

  4. The speed of change: Google Ad changes have been accelerating.
    It is challenging for in-house teams to keep up with the changes as they might not have the expertise and be able to dedicate time on continuously learning and developing solutions.
    Solution: Ensure your Google Ads account manager (in-house or agency) has the experience & focus to keep up with new developments.

Google Ad Changes

How has Google Ads changed over the years?

After launching in 2000, for its first 15 years, most of Google Ads changes were with how its text ads appeared on the Google SERPs (search engine results page). However, the pace of change Google Ads has undergone since 2017 has been staggering. With each update (2017: smart bidding; 2018: RSAs; 2021: Performance Max campaigns; 2022: reduced keyword control), the platform has quickly evolved to its current state, where AI has officially taken over. Today, automation and AI are at the core of Google Ads.

Google Ads Timeline

  • 2000: Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) is launched.
  • 2002: Introduction of cost-per-click (CPC) pricing model.
  • 2005: Introduction of Quality Score, a measure of the quality and ad relevancy.
  • 2010: Google Product Listing Ads are offered to all advertisers.
  • 2016: Introduction of expanded text ads, offering more space for ad copy.
  • 2017: Introduction of Smart Bidding, using machine learning to optimise bids.
  • 2018: Introduction of responsive search ads (RSAs).
  • 2021: Performance Max is launched, an automated solution for all inventory types.
  • 2021: Google expands phrase match to incorporate the behaviour of broad match modifier.
  • 2021: Google changes the behaviour of exact match to match with the intent of a search, instead of just the specific words.
  • 2022: Sunsetting of Expanded Text Ads.
  • 2023: Removal of first click, linear, time decay & position-based attribution models.
  • 2024: AI has officially taken over. 
  • 2025: The end of third party cookies.


The Solutions to Google Ads Changes

Solution 1) Implement advanced conversion tracking techniques

  1. Set up Google Ads conversion tracking with GTM – Google Tag Manager (GTM) provides a centralised platform for managing all the tracking codes and tags used to collect data on website interactions. It streamlines the process of passing visitors’ interactions data to Google, Meta or LinkedIn among many others, enabling both algorithms and users to make informed business decisions.

  2. Import offline conversions into Google Ads – Google allows advertisers to track and measure the impact of online ads on offline conversions, such as those initiated by contact forms or phone inquiries. By tracking offline conversions, advertisers can better understand the true return on investment (ROI) of their online advertising efforts while providing invaluable data to the algorithm to learn from and to become more efficient.

  3. Enable enhanced conversions – Enhanced conversion tracking uses a secure one-way hashing algorithm called SHA256, which encrypts first-party customer data, like email addresses, before sending it to Google. This method guarantees user privacy while allowing Google Ads to register conversions that might otherwise remain untracked. 

  4. Set up phone, live chat and form submission conversion tracking – Using third-party software you can attribute the conversions from calls, chats and forms to your Google Ad, campaigns, ad groups and keywords.

Solution 2) Set up server-side tracking

Server-side tracking setup example showing a user web browser, mirrored by a virtual web browser server-side

What is server-side tracking (SST)?
Server-side tracking is a method of sending a website’s tracking data to Google, Meta, LinkedIn etc from a server, rather than doing so from the user’s web browser.


The benefits of server-side tracking are:

  1. Better tracking accuracy and more conversion data
  2. Improved website performance and faster pages
  3. Advanced user’s data control and GDPR compliance


What are the key considerations for implementing SST?

  • You need to ask yourself whether you are confident in implementing and maintaining server-side tracking yourself or if you want to hire an expert.
  • It’s important to remember that ad blockers and browsers tracking prevention mechanisms are not static and will change and get more sophisticated over time, potentially reducing the accuracy of your data – thus requiring monitoring and adjustment. 
  • Other key considerations include your choice of cloud server and costs, tracking subdomains and which tracking scripts to migrate.

Solution 3) Consolidate your Google Ad campaigns


Google Ads’ emphasis on AI and algorithms means that to maximise the platform’s performance, you should aim to consolidate your account into as few assets (campaigns, ad groups, ads, keywords) as possible. Segmenting should only be done when it is justified based on different themes, goals or budgets.

The benefits of account consolidation are:

  • Faster learning – the more data available against individual assets, the faster the algorithm learns.

  • Better, more predictable performance – the more data available, the more efficient targeting and bidding become.

  • Simplify management and make fewer errors.

  • Spot trends faster.


Note: You  will need to implement account restructure changes in stages to ensure the algorithm adapts to them and to prevent a significant drop in performance levels.

Solution 4) Hire someone, whether it's an in-house employee or an agency, who can stay updated on Google Ads and broader tracking changes

Whether you managing your Google Ads account in-house or via an agency, it is essential that they keep up-to-date with changes that will affect tracking, account structure and performance.

We can audit & implement all the solutions in this article to maximise your ROI!

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