By Stacie Calabrese, Manager, 4A’s Research, firstname.lastname@example.org.
After years of promises and threats, 2018 saw the roll out of artificial intelligence (AI)-created ads, along with AI-driven platforms from two agency holding companies. Was this the year that AI finally took over the advertising industry? Well, not really, but we’ve definitely seen the next steps in the impact of AI on advertising. In fact, recent research from SoDA’s Global Digital Outlook 2019 report found that 56% of agency leaders and client-side marketing leaders believe that AI will impact the design process, with over a third of client leaders planning significant investments in AI. The scale is tipping and agencies need to be prepared for what lies ahead.
Following much anticipation and speculation, Publicis launched Marcel. The bar was set high; reactions have been mixed. Ultimately, Marcel seems to be an advanced tool for connecting Publicis employees and fostering creativity without borders. Marcel definitely isn’t replacing creative, but the hope is that it can fast track creative and make it better.
With somewhat less fanfare, Omnicom launched its Omni platform, with the promise to help its agencies use data to create, plan and buy ad campaigns. Omni can offer AI-based assistance by identifying colors, words, and images that appeal to a particular audience. From there, ideas can be sparked and triggered to make creative work better and faster.
Honestly, this all still sounds a bit vague and we have yet to see anything quantifiable from either of these platforms. We have, however, seen AI tiptoeing into creating ads this year.
As a gag, a Twitter user had a bot analyze thousands of hours of Olive Garden ads and it produced a cringe-worthy script. Although based on actual campaigns, this was merely an exercise in machine learning and not really anything coming from the advertising industry. Great for laughs and retweets, but not something anyone could or would take seriously.
Next up, agency David of Miami generated more laughs with a TV campaign for Burger King, said to be created by AI. But it was all a joke and real humans were behind it.
In November, things got real when agency The&Partnership created the first ad written and directed by AI. The effort included reviewing 15 years’ worth of Cannes Lion-winning ads, using emotional-intelligence data and coaching AI on intuition to create an ad for Lexus. The result was reported to be a beautifully shot short film, but it was disjointed and less a narrative than a series of items ticked off a list.
So, should creatives be nervous? Probably not.
AI isn’t going to take over the creative department, but it can be a partner to help humans take the creative process a step further, by:
- Understanding what resonates through analysis of previously successful campaigns. Omni and the Lexus ad take a step in this direction. Instead of letting AI take development through to the end, the results can help inform decisions in the creative stage, either by mirroring the successful formula or going outside the box to innovate.
- Identifying new groups of consumers by scouring online platforms for mentions of an activity or interest without mentioning a specific brand.
- Matching up unique interests and behaviors among consumers to do what Saatchi & Saatchi LA calls “flexible storytelling”: elements within ads that change based on the data. The story and the idea remain the same but the pieces change to create a more personalized experience for the each customer.
Working with AI may help elevate the creative process by teaching different ways of thinking and challenging previous ideas, leading to innovation and a greater level of creativity. The time has come to embrace AI as a partner.
Ad Age, How an agency adds value in an AI era, April 3, 2018
Ad Age, Selling AI, July 11, 2018
Martech Today, What does artificial intelligence mean for marketing agencies?, March 19, 2018