The Google Ads Agency Is Dead. If It Doesn’t Change Completely

By Stefan Vetter | February 26, 2019 (updated December 4, 2019) | Google Ads


Automation through Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing all aspects of Google Ads.

As a Google Premium Partner and one of a few “Google Managed Agencies” in Switzerland, we get a first-hand glimpse of this development at Wortspiel.

In this article, I will outline five critical consequences of automation for Google Ads agencies – as well as for all companies that use Google Ads.

Google Ads Agencies that don’t adapt could be gone in a few years.

Introduction: Why Advertising Gets Automated

Today there are already tasks that a machine can solve better than humans: clearly defined problems with sufficient available data.

These can be complex games like chess or go, in which humans already have no chance against algorithms.

What will therefore become extinct in the future is the conventional “Google ads craft”, i.e. the manual, detailed optimization of campaigns.

What the machine will not be able to do in the short and medium term, however, are among other things strategic and creative tasks.

I see the following five consequences for Google ads agencies:

Consequence 1: The Agency Becomes a Pilot Within the Autopilot

So far, much of the service provided by a Google Ads agency has been the manual optimization of a Google Ads account.

This optimization will remain part of the service, but it will change to a different level and take less time.

In the future, agencies and Google ads managers in companies will take on the role of “pilots within the autopilot”.

Their task will be to match the company’s goals with the campaign results and take corrective action if necessary.

In the future, details will be handled by an algorithm.

Advertisers who use automation will have an advantage in the competition for the most valuable visitors.

Consequence 2: Consulting and Strategy Will Become Core Competencies

The value creation of a Google ads agency in the future will largely lie in consulting.

How can the goals of a company be achieved with Google’s automation technology?

This requires a greater understanding of the overarching goals than before.

A recent study by Marketing Land confirms this. The most important future soft skills of an agency are “strategy” and “strong client communication”:

Which soft skills will be most needed in agencies two years from now?

Source: Marketing Land

Consequence 3: Data Quality in Analytics Is Critical

The handling of data is also becoming increasingly important. AI optimizes only as well as the quality of the data enables it to learn from.

Agencies therefore have to help companies to collect the right data, put it into the right form and feed it to the (Google ads) machine.

This means that an analytics setup has to measure, classify and make accessible all success-relevant interactions.

Our senior consultant Christian Ebernickel formulates this task aptly with his motto: “The right data in the right place at the right time”.

Consequence 4: Attribution Modeling Instead of Simple Reporting

The more marketing channels and forms of advertising are available, the longer and more complex the customer journey becomes.

At the same time, the pressure on agencies and platforms to prove the success of a campaign in numbers is increasing.

Therefore, the importance of attribution modelling is growing: how much does Google Ads contribute to the overall success of an omnichannel campaign?

This requires a higher level of technical understanding on the part of the agency than before.

Consequence 5: Larger Service Portfolio


Many of the tasks that Google ads agencies will perform in the future are channel-independent.

These include alignment with corporate goals, reliable tracking and proper  attribution.

On the other hand, the operational effort and technical knowledge required to optimize the Google Ads channel will decrease.

This means that an agency with the same personnel resources could include additional services in its portfolio.

In the field of advertising, Facebook / Instagram, Amazon, LinkendIn and Apple Ads would certainly be interesting:

How do you expect media spend to chance in the coming year with the following networks?

Source: Marketing Land

And in the area of marketing, experts estimate that, in addition to data science / analytics, there will be an increasing demand for conversion optimization. It is not without reason that we expanded our range of services last year to include this field.

Which of the following technical skills do you think will be most needed in agencies two years from now?

Source: Marketing Land


Google has summed up the changes for Google ads agencies well in the following visualization:

Google ads agencies today and in the future

Source: Google, publication with permission

The time required for the manual optimization of campaigns will be massively reduced by automation.

This creates room (and demand) for more strategic consulting, better data management and more reliable attribution.

And according to Google, the massive changes will not come sometime, but “in the near future” according to the above diagram.

This statement coincides with the opinions in the industry.

According to the above-mentioned study by Marketing Land, “automation” is the most common answer to the question in which technology marketing agencies will invest in the next 12 months:

Is the agency planning to purchase any of the following in the next 12 months?

Source: Marketing Land

I therefore see 2019 as a fateful year for Google ads agencies.

Those agencies that use the opportunities of automation for their clients have good prospects for the future.

However, this requires far-reaching changes in the services and competencies offered.

Google ads agencies that don’t change could not exist in a few years, as mentioned at the outset.

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Stefan Vetter is CEO and founder at Wortspiel. He created his first website in 1999 and has been active in digital marketing ever since. Stefan is also the founder at Friendly, a Swiss provider of privacy-friendly marketing software.