The advertising industry is no stranger to drastic change, evident in the major overhaul brought on by the digital revolution. As we evolve, innovations continue to develop and push us to new heights, none more so than the arrival of early-stage artificial intelligence (AI) and the sub-applications developed from it.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
Often, when anything AI-related is discussed, buzzwords like machine learning, big data, deep learning, etc. are thrown around without context, which leads to confusion and misinterpretation. Because of this, it’s vital we specify the basics of AI before we begin to discuss how it will affect the advertising world. AI, as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is:
- A) A branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behavior in computers
- B) The capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior
Put simply, AI is not only an attempt to create a super-intelligent computer, but one that is so sharp its appears to be human. There are low-level examples that already exist in everyday life, like self-driving cars, Spotify suggestion algorithms, and digital assistants like Siri and Google AI. Using enormous amounts of data and incredibly complex processing mechanisms (i.e. machine learning and deep learning), AI learns how to perform high-level tasks and answer multifaceted questions in a way that is becoming indistinguishable from human behavior.
Because basic AI software is already integrated into many facets of our society, it should come as no surprise that AI applications are impacting how the ad industry functions. While we still have yet to see anything truly radical in the ad industry, implementations in content creation, consumer interaction, strategy, and analytics fields have been seen. While it would be impossible to describe all that AI is doing for advertising in this short piece, we will describe how it’s changing a key part of advertising- content creation.
How is it Changing Content Creation?
Whether it be long-form articles or brief social media posts, the creation of content is one of the main facets of advertising. AI has already begun to automate many content creation tasks, and in some cases, entire job functions, with the ability to both target audiences more precisely and create content at a quicker rate. It’s no secret that today’s consumers demand a lot from advertisers and marketers, with the desire for personal needs, wants, and expectations to be met on a minute scale.
As AI relies on large data sets, it can easily segment and target consumers based on the vast troves of user information available, on a scale that would take humans significantly longer. One of the most prevalent programs taking on this task is IBM’s Watson, which works interactively with its users by providing natural language querying of its data and extremely illustrative and instantaneous data visualization, amongst other features. This program allows for extremely accurate targeting of specific demographics, pushing marketers and advertisers into a longer-term strategy. This protracted approach involves metrics such as customer lifetime value (CLV) over traditional transactional returns, i.e. ad spend, creating more meaningful, quality relationships with customers as a result.
AI is also being used in the writing of content; many news publications are using AI bots to write clips and short-form articles in a fraction of the time it would take a human journalist. While these aren’t necessarily complex pieces of content, these quips and news blurbs easily pass for human writing, leaving many readers completely oblivious to the fact that it was indeed created by non-human intelligence. As it stands now, these bots are a helpful tool, allowing writers to focus on more cognitively involved topics and longer form articles. While these bots handle the more basic duties in their current form, it is only a matter of time until they evolve to increasingly more cerebral tasks – this power balance will not last, and when the balance begins to tip, we will need to ask ourselves how far we are willing to go.
So When’s the Robot Uprising?
While some of this information may be alarming, know that AI is still in early stages of development, and we will likely not be seeing major jumps in capability any time in the next decade or so. However, dramatic changes are beginning to creep over the horizon, and it’s important to stay abreast of developments in this field; understand how it will affect both your personal and professional life, as being a straggler in the super-human world of AI means you’re already too late.
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