Machines Are Getting More and More Creative

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As technology progresses in our society, talk of robots and machines taking over human jobs is rampant. Therefore, this seminar presented on the Target Media Network Stage by a panel of experts on the topic proved to be quite interesting and relevant, even more so when looking at things from an advertising perspective. More specifically, this seminar showed how artificial intelligence, or AI, has began to revolutionize the advertising industry, and how companies can harness its power to reach out to customers more effectively.

The guests on this panel included Ann Rubin, vice president of branded content & global creative for IBM, Jarrod Dicker, vice president of commercial product and innovation for The Washington Post, Evan Simeone, senior vice president of product management for PubMatic, and Nikos Acuna, managing director of the Rocket Fuel Institute. Each speaker offered a unique perspective into how artificial intelligence can be harnessed and what that means for the advertising industry.

Ann began by saying that “AI is helping humans…do things they hadn’t been able to do before; do things they can’t do alone; do the best work of their life.”

She backed up this claim by explaining that the utilization of artificial intelligence allows for a combination of analytical and creative processing, something which would be more difficult for a human mind alone to do efficiently and quickly. She gave the example of Watson, which is a marketing unit that progressively learns or gets “smarter” over time. For instance, Watson can be utilized in a Campbell’s soup advertisement to give the customer real-time advice on potential recipes they might try. But this behavior is not pre-programmed; rather, Watson gathers structured data points on the customer’s preferences and habits, and accommodates those behaviors by offering a recipe that the customer is likely to be interested in. While this technology is remarkable, Ann did admit that this type of artificial intelligence would be impossible without a human to create it.

Jared spoke about Clavis, a tool used by The Washington Post to follow how each consumer navigates through articles on the website. By using this data, Clavis can recommend articles to the consumer that they are likely to take interest in reading. He continued to say that artificial intelligence has been utilized without human interference to update content about ongoing events, such as the presidential election or the Olympics. He later explained that the humans can set up templates which artificial intelligence would be able to fill in after collecting data sets about current events.

From an advertising perspective, Jared said that artificial intelligence is able to personalize messages based on each individual consumer’s habits and preferences, due to its rapid analyzation of data collections. This is something that can bolster the ads and make them more effective, but ultimately the creation of the original advertisement requires a human touch, resulting in a collaborative ad product between humans’ ability to think creatively and AI’s ability to personalize and target the ads based on data sets.

Evan spoke about how artificial intelligence can be useful for programmatic advertising. The artificial intelligence is able to determine the optimal ad which can be shown to any specific visitor to a webpage, based on various impressions and data points that are identified about that customer. These might include the customer’s location, the devices they are on, and even which browser they use. By analyzing these data points over time, artificial intelligence can identify patterns that would not be obvious or apparent to any human who looked at the same data points. According to Evan, this process cuts out worthless or ineffective ad impressions, saving a lot of money.

Nikos drove the home the point that artificial intelligence can do a phenomenal job of determining which context to place certain ads into that will guarantee a good impression.  AI’s rapid and thorough analyzation of data enables companies to reach out to customers in ways which they were previously unable. Yet, Nikos said that some data points may be more difficult and abstract for artificial intelligence to detect and analyze. Sentiments are an example of this, as they are instrumental in determining what will connect a customer to a particular brand.

All the experts agreed that artificial intelligence is a necessity if companies aim to optimize their outreach to the fullest extent. It has the ability to gather and analyze mountains of data, something which a human mind is not able to do easily nor quickly. Although, the experts also agreed that artificial intelligence will never completely replace humans, as they bring a creative element and a personal touch which AI is unable to reproduce.

This seminar proved to be quite fascinating overall. Rather than being frightened of new, daunting technologies, customers and companies alike should both embrace these innovations and utilize them to achieve optimal efficiency. The combination of a human brain along with a helping hand from AI is capable of achieving things that years ago would have seemed unfathomable. In an ever-evolving technological society, one can only imagine the advances in artificial intelligence that may come forth in future days to come.

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