Chat GPT and PPC: A tool for the future, not quite for the now

Chat GPT and PPC: A tool for the future, not quite for the now

Patrick Kearney • 18/04/2023

On 25 April, TIPi Group’s Shaping the Future event will delve into the subject of AI-generated content, exploring how digital marketing can utilise AI with an in-depth review of Chat GPT, Bard, and other AI tools. As part of this, Patrick Kearney, on behalf of ROAST’s Paid Media team, will provide a taster with some initial thoughts on the practical uses of Chat GPT.

Over the last four months the topic of Artificial Intelligence (AI), specifically ChatGPT, has been a very audible hum around workspaces. Colleagues have been discussing its capabilities, how it can be leveraged to support our roles, what type of content you can get it to produce, and on a slightly bleaker note – will AI make us redundant?

Nipping the last question in the bud, I do not foresee, at least in its current format, ChatGPT being anything other than a moderately helpful tool. When it comes to the knowledge of a client, creating strategy, and the in-depth Expertise of paid media, the AI cannot compete.

As the majority of users currently do not have access to version 4 of the tool just yet, I will approach this subject largely focusing on the current widely available version 3.5 (V3.5). Those who have paid for a premium account are able to access both version 4 (although this is restricted to several questions an hour) and older versions of ChatGPT. The update is unquestionably more sophisticated than previous models, and I will cover where and how it can be used effectively and not so effectively.

But first, some initial thoughts.

When I first started playing around with the tool, one immediate realisation was how important it was to know the correct prompts. Whilst the AI is undoubtedly intuitive, to achieve the exact desired outcome, I found there was often a degree of trial and error. This would then result in not an unsubstantial amount of time spent amending prompts to eventually achieve the desired outcome.

To an extent, there is a kind of prompt language that must be adopted to use ChatGPT in the most efficient way, though even then, its use can still prove to be frustrating when the AI did not immediately produce exactly what I was looking for.

As one could imagine, there is an abundance of topics which could be covered regarding ChatGPT in the Paid Media space, so, I am going to focus on some of its more obvious capabilities:

  • Ad Copy creation
  • Competitor ad copy review
  • Keywords
  • Google Ads upload
  • Creative Capabilities
  • Understanding New Business
  • Shortfalls
  • Version 4

Ad Copy Creation

Creating ad copy variations for testing is at the heart of paid media activity, and so naturally, I thought that as a text-based AI, this would be one of its core strengths. There was some degree of success, but it wasn’t as seamless as I had anticipated.

I tasked the software with creating three variations of ad copy in the format of a Responsive Search Ad (RSA) for a client. Each RSA was to have 10 headlines and 4 descriptions, and after each an explanation of why each variation would be a good test.

The results seemed initially promising, providing a strong variety of ad copy, each with a slightly different tack. However, whilst the responses from the AI machine were in line with the general formatting of Headlines and Descriptions, the finer details were almost entirely ignored.

Character lengths were the obvious failing point. My first attempt at getting the AI to produce ad copy within the restrictions of an RSA resulted in headlines often exceeding limits and descriptions verging on the realm of a paragraph in length. The second and third attempts were not much more successful – even when I explicitly asked the AI to define a character length (which it was able to do) it failed to meet Google’s character length specifications.

Ultimately as a tool, V3.5 isn’t quite at the level of creating perfect ad copy and is well short of creating copy that can be directly uploaded to Google Ads. However, as a starting point, there is undoubtedly scope to help build out additional ideas or even for it to be used as a source of inspiration.

Competitor Ad Copy review

Here I tasked V3.5 to review some of our competitor’s ad copy, to inform us what cognitive biases were being used, and to provide the rationale for each.

This was a good plus for the AI. It pulled out cognitive biases in the ad copy quickly, providing what seemed to be sound rationale for each and explaining which sections of the copy would trigger the response.

However, whilst the majority were spot on, some of the responses the AI provided were tenuous. Perhaps the AI is victim to the high expectations which have been set upon it, but it did instil a degree of doubt in the content it produced.

That being said, once we QA’d the actual content, the AI had merit in that it didn’t require a huge amount of editing to ensure the content was produced to a level we would consider to be client friendly. Evidently the content required a professional touch, but generally, I was impressed with what the AI provided.

The downside however is that it will only analyse what you provide it, requiring some initial legwork to scrape competitor ads, and only providing a snapshot of analysis if you’re only analysing a small number of ads. Purpose built tools, such as ROAST’s own custom Natural Language Processing tool, will be more effective for reviewing behavioural bias in bulk, but requires significantly more time and knowledge to develop vs using Chat GPT.

In terms of other issues, I discovered that in order to get this review we had to manually copy and paste each advert, doctoring it to remove sitelinks or structured snippets because the AI would not intuitively pick out what was relevant from the RSA ad copy. Instead, it would say that there wasn’t any ad copy in question.


I also tried pasting the URL into the chat for the SERP for it to look for itself, but it was unable to do this. Instead, it provided instructions on how to go about doing the review myself. Not the time saving exercise I was aiming for…

That being said, whilst ChatGPT is able to explain the content of a site when asked to look at a URL, it has never claimed to be able to crawl a site.

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I am of the opinion that there is not much point in using the AI to build out keywords when you have Keyword Planner in Google Ads. With that being said, ChatGPT is highly competent in pulling together keyword lists based on a company, a URL, or by giving it an industry.

The sole reason I consider it more or less pointless for this function is that when you have access to Keyword Planner, where you have access to the data of a huge number the keyword, why would you use anything else? ChatGPT might provide one or two unique keywords, but nothing that would not be picked up by a phrase match keyword generated by Google’s planner tool.

Google Ads Editor Upload

It was quite impressive being able to create a table which would be able to be uploaded into Editor without specifics, and I have seen someone build out a full account on ChatGPT with a very extensive prompt, so it is clearly possible to do. However, with reasonably limited information the AI still somewhat lacked the intuitiveness of a person in being able to build out the formatting for a Google ads responsive ad.

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After asking it to revise the table for RSA’s ‘with all headlines and descriptions’, ChatGPT did expand, but stopped after 5 headlines and just 3 descriptions.

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This is really where I feel Chat GPT lacks, it almost produces what you need it to, but often lacks that final bit a human would produce in a fraction of the time in this instance.

Teaching Tool

As a teaching tool, ChatGPT is excellent for discovering information on what a business does. Gaining new business is at the heart of all agencies which are looking to grow. As an agency we are often exposed to a wide range of products and services from a number of different industries. This is where ChatGPT really comes into action. After all, explaining and understanding complex sectors in simple terms can be challenging when new starters are exposed to a range of industries in an agency.

Nonetheless, this does not mean that you are going to become an overnight expert in a field but having an AI simply explain some of the more technical jargon within your clients’ realm can really give you an edge in understanding any business coming into your agency.

Where does it still fall short?

Creative Review and Creation

In some ways the following criticism might be somewhat harsh. ChatGPT is a text-based AI and whilst the new model does claim to be able to pull out details within images, V3.5 has no scope to do this.

Version 4 has stated that it will be able to pull out details of photos uploaded, however even with access via the premium account, there’s no evidence this is possible.

In terms of creating images, as it stands ChatGPT does not have this capability and it is probably unlikely to. Fear not, if you are truly in need for AI-generated creatives, you’re not more than a Google search away from finding an alternative.

Cross thread

As it stands, ChatGPT lacks the function to refer to previous prompts, retrieve information, or consolidate something you have asked the AI in a different thread. So, in terms of consolidation, once you create a new chat, it is essentially a brand-new interaction with the AI.

The primary consequence of this is that the AI does not have the intuition it will have picked up over the course of an interaction. Therefore, if you do manage to teach ChatGPT character lengths, or correct formatting, for example, this will not carry over into the new thread.

Version 4

As previously mentioned, not everyone has had much opportunity to play around with the latest update, however, it is clear that ChatGPT has levelled up. Using less information than provided for its predecessor, Chat GPT was able to create 3 RSA’s, all within the parameters of an RSA, without being prompted to define character limits etc. There is still the problem surrounding the context of clients, Brand Guidelines for instance, but this is absolutely a step in the right direction.

Final thoughts

The real question is, does ChatGPT speed up day to day work? At the risk of sounding like an SEO’er – It depends 

There is absolutely scope for ChatGPT to be a helpful tool. The positives from its copy creation, competitor ad reviews, and even builds for editors far outweigh its negatives. Whilst the ad copy failed to adhere to character lengths, it did provide a degree of inspiration for alternative copy and descriptions. The competitor review was largely accurate, it simply required us to QA it rather than immediately trust its output. The keyword generation is perfectly adequate. The Google Ads build can be generated once the correct prompt has been learnt by the user and as a Teaching Tool for New Business, I am yet to find a fault with it.  

However, ultimately ChatGPT’s real limitation lies with the user knowing the correct prompt language required for it to generate our desired outcomes. Often it is simply quicker for one to complete a task without use of the AI. Outside of actively testing the AI, it really is only a support tool that I have used for things such as ad copy inspiration and to plug a few knowledge gaps.  

With that being said, based on an initial play around with Version 4, it is not unrealistic to believe that AI will become a tool we utilise far more frequently to support our day to day.  

And so, whilst ChatGPT is most definitely a tool that will shape the future, its capabilities prevent it from being quite right for the now… 

Next time I’ll be looking at the extension GPT has for Google Sheets! 

If you’re interested in learning more about the practical used of AI to Paid Media, our Shaping the Future event will take place on 25 April which you can sign up to here. You can also sign up for our newsletter here and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.