Q&A with Noël Paasch, Creative Director, Unskippable Labs, Google

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AW360 sits down for a chat with Google’s Noël Paasch to find out what’s on her agenda ahead of Advertising Week APAC.

What are you talking about at AWAPAC?

There are all kinds of possibilities for machine learning when it comes to ad creative, but there’s a fair amount of trepidation in the creative community about how much of a role it will play. The truth is, the role of creatives is more critical now than ever before.

We are constantly generating data, more than we can possibly know how to effectively harness in meaningful ways. So it’s up to creatives to channel machine learning’s abilities to explore new patterns, find different questions to ask and open up new opportunities.

What’s the biggest opportunity with machine learning for the industry?

Creatives should view machine learning as deploying a billion interns, not creating one Einstein to find the solution to beat all solutions.

But if you’ve ever had interns, you know that you need to take time to guide them, create guardrails and consistently ensure that their outputs translate into something useful. Creatives have the opportunity to be the shepherds of machine learning to focus their creative energy, push client work forward and find paths to take more creative risks.

And what are the threats which may emerge?

Machine learning models are only as good as the information you feed them. It’s critical for us to constantly check the outputs, challenge the assumptions, beware of bias and understand where the machine begins and where it ends.

The greatest disservice we could do for this new creative opportunity is to assume that the machines are smarter than we are. The machines are there to show us new perspectives and challenge our rivers of thinking to free up space where we can have greater impact.

What’s the human role in marketing when machines get more sophisticated?

We need to adapt in different ways. We’re so used to figuring out all of the rules, succeeding and moving on to the next challenge. But that’s not how this world works. We, as humans, have come to adapt to culture in ways that we expect it to be constantly changing and evolving, but we have work to do in our fluency of data and how to use it.

The best place to start is by asking questions. At the moment, machines are good at answering the questions that machines can answer but how can we make them good at answering the questions that will make creative better?

We need to embrace the complexity of putting the interns to work and it’s through experimentation, testing and iterating that we will better understand what to ask, what to look for and where to dig deeper. The interns need their shepherd.

What excites you most about the future of our industry?

My role is unique in that I get to ask questions for a living and I get to work with brands and agencies to challenge assumptions to drive stronger creative work forward. I think machine learning can give creatives the opportunity to prove the value of taking more risks, telling bigger stories while still delivering meaningful brand impact.

The fact that there are no silver bullets in the world of ad creative should be seen as the biggest opportunity to find new paths forward rather than sticking to what we know because it feels safe. The safe space lies ahead, not behind.

Noël’s session Why Machine Learning Can Help Cure Blindness But Not Bad Creative is on at the Global Keynote Stage at 11:30am on Wednesday July 31. You can get your tickets to see Noël and over 150 other industry luminaries right here.

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