Data has transformed the advertising industry. It is no exaggeration to say that accurate user data is now simply table stakes for any company looking to succeed in the business. Recent developments have thrown some potential roadblocks in the path of marketeers’ ability to gather and utilise that information. For the most part, however, the industry is increasingly reliant on data to create and measure the effectiveness of modern advertising.
Pippa Malmgren is the founder of H Robotics, in addition to a former Presidential Advisor, Economist and Author. In her book ‘The Leadership Lab’, co-written with Chris Lewis, she argues that artificial intelligence (AI) is the transformative technology that will finally deliver on the promise of digital advertising. Using machine learning marketeers will be able to personalise advertising based on user data, and deliver it in ways that take context into account:
“One of the main issues here isn’t lack of data. It’s making sense of them.
“AI knows what the customers want before they do. It can uncover customer insights and trends to deliver predictive service. In advertising, AI can personalise advertising to change parts of it, depending on the audience, to include different music or other content.”
Malmgren and Lewis point out that a Salesforce study of 3,500 marketing leaders found that high-performing brand leaders are twice as likely to be employing AI in their day-to-day operations. That report found that the marketers surveyed anticipate their AI use will grow more than 50 percent over the next two years, helping them deliver ‘more targeted campaigns, smarter personalization and higher ROI’.
Small wonder then that a range of companies are racing to offer the de facto AI marketing platforms. Each offer different experiences in terms of UX and functionality, but for the most part they all agree on the potential upsides of AI marketing: Saving time and money; more accurate personalised messages; and ultimately increasing revenue.
Despite that, and despite Jeff Bezos stating that ‘there is no institution in the world that cannot be improved by machine learning’, AI is still a tool. It is an enabler of advertising, rather than a creator. In that sense the role of the individual creator or agency is still paramount; it takes human creativity and gut instinct to put together some of the more emotive campaigns on behalf of brands.
In many ways, the use of AI in marketing parallels that of its use in news media. Publishers as varied as the Washington Post, newswires like Reuters and even smaller publishers regularly use AI tools to produce copy around financial and sports results, leaving journalists more time to get on with analysis that really adds value to their consumers.
Moreover, AI is still in its infancy. A number of recent high-profile examples of machine learning based on human behaviour and biases have proven the need for a human hand on the tiller. To that end, Keith Eadie, VP and GM of Adobe Advertising Cloud, says:
“In advertising, great creative that drives an emotional connection always requires a human spark. What AI can do is free people up to focus on the problems humans are best at.”
Malmgren will be speaking at the advertising industry’s premier event, LEAD ‘19, on January 30, joined by fellow speakers including Karen Blackett OBE, country manager for WPP; David Pemsel, chief executive, Guardian Media Group; and Baroness Fairhead CBE.
The agenda for the half-day event sees Malmgren expound on some of the biggest issues facing the industry in 2019. The tripartite topics of Trust, Trade and Transformation will take centre stage, as representatives of the advertising and political worlds discuss and debate how best the industry can tackle endemic challenges using new tools like AI.
Additionally, the event is the first time the general public will have the opportunity to hear our new president and outgoing Unilever CMCO Keith Weed setting out the Advertising Association’s mission for the next three years.