​How AI is Changing the Ad Business​

Artificially Intelligent Advertising

Advertising is all about tapping into consumer markets, finding out what makes them tick, and using that info to create convincing ad campaigns. This is much harder than it sounds, especially when entire demographics are proving impossible to reach. For example, millennials are notoriously difficult to connect with – and there’s a lot of them. In the U.S., they make up 25% of the population. How can marketers make the most of market research and come up with captivating campaigns? This is where Artificial Intelligence comes in. AI is designed to find answers to complicated questions, and can handle mass datasets like those accumulated by marketers and advertisers. But how can AI enhance ad campaigns, and how will this disrupt advertising?

Artificially Intelligent advertising
Global ad agency Saatchi and Saatchi are currently working with Toyota to create an unusual ad campaign for the RAV4 SUV. Saatchi is using IBM Watson to make quirky, tailored content that combines unusual consumer activities using an algorithm and adds this to a video of the RAV4. The ‘RAVtivity machine’, as it is known, compliments the SUV’s tagline ability to ‘navigate new activities and new roads’. One example pairs martial arts with barbecuing. According to Nancy Inouye, National Media Manager at Toyota, the project combined Facebook’s behavioural data with AI created activities to deliver relevant, personal content. In future, the team at Saatchi hope to use Watson to create on demand, real time videos. Unsurprisingly, Toyota aren’t the only ones taking advantage of AI’s promising capabilities. A number of companies (including Campbell Soup) have signed up to be part of IBM’s new Watson Ads. The software essentially works like a chatbot, answering consumer questions – both written and spoken – via adverts. Facebook itself generates ads based on your ‘likes’, but also on what your friends like. This can create mixed messages, as you might not share the same interests as your friends. By using AI, Facebook can personalise ads to specific users, regardless of their friends’ engagement. The social network is gradually expanding the scope for targeted advertising in videocentric experiences, Messenger and mid-roll video ads.

How will AI disrupt advertising?
AI powered advertising isn’t new, and has already disrupted ad agencies. Advertisers, hungry for data, have put increasing pressure on agencies to get hold of more information, and these agencies have turned to Artificial Intelligence. This has altered their business strategies, as well as the way they employ staff members. Now, employees need to be tech savvy and understand the digital world. AI is currently enjoying huge publicity and research, expanding its capabilities. The new generation of AI powered ads are using these advancements to make the most of consumer information. Due to its predictive nature, AI can even work out whether a campaign is likely to be successful. If Toyota’s RAV4 campaign is anything to go by, future ads will become ultra-personal, but also slightly wacky too. However, there are some setbacks to using AI as a further disruptor. People don’t like the idea that their data is being collected and used, especially without them knowing. Also, ad campaigns fuelled by Artificial Intelligence are yet another example of AI’s application within creative fields. This demonstrates the advancement of AI as a tool for all kinds of problem solving and not just super-efficient administration. In other words, AI continues to become a universal disruptor.

In order to reach their target markets, ads have to be relevant and personal. As AI can gather so much data and categorize it neatly, it’s far easier to make targeted content that’s responsive rather than aggressive. The RAVtivity campaign designed for Toyota demonstrates exactly that, drawing information from multiple sources to come up with an attention grabbing concept that reflects the brand as well as its customers. However, ad agencies are going to need to be very careful about how they use personal data and avoid being too relevant. Watson Ads looks like it might eliminate this issue by inviting consumers to directly ask questions. Either way, better AI doesn’t necessarily mean better advertising – ad teams still need to work out how to use the technology to connect with consumer markets. . . especially notoriously apathetic millennials.

Can AI help marketers engage with millennials? Will natural language processing become a key tool in future advertising? Share your thoughts and opinions.