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We live in a world that is becoming more personalized every day. Consumers have come to expect experiences that are tailored for them — especially when it comes to engaging with brands. When you open your Uber app, it now suggests your home address; online shopping is increasingly personalized, and, of course, so is advertising. You expect to see ads that reflect your interests and buying patterns and, in fact, are more likely to engage with those ads.We have artificial intelligence (AI) to thank for our increasingly personalized world. As the demand for personalization increases, so too does the buzz around AI.
First, let’s define it. AI is a term that is becoming ubiquitous — and potentially overused — as an umbrella term relating to any action a machine takes based on a set of rules in order to mimic human intelligence. This can be anything from the rudimentary applications, such as email filters, to complex uses, such as facial recognition or household robotics. AI can be defined as machines that mimic “cognitive” functions of humans, such as learning and problem-solving.
AI In Advertising
AI has come into the realm of advertising for a few simple reasons. First, the industry is ripe for data harvest, given the billions of ad impressions served across the world, creating a veritable gold mine of consumer behavior. Eyeballs are easier to find but harder to define, and sophisticated models are needed to pinpoint an audience through all the noise. Additionally, the investment dollars are there, with billions flowing to digital media: Salesforce reports that 51% of all marketers are using AI in some form and that current use, planned use and projected growth of use cases will more than double over the next two years. It’s not just the machines that need to learn, either: 72% of digital agencies believe that data science and analysis will be the most-needed skill in the next two years. The incentives to have better algorithms than the competition are incredibly apparent (not to mention motivating): In the world of cost-per-click, improving an algorithm by just a few percentage points can bring a tremendous amount of value due to the volume of inventory and impressions.
The AI Buzzwords: What People Are Really Doing In AI
AI seems to be everywhere — the phrase “data mining” echoes across Slack channels to infinity — but in reality, many companies are using it as a marketing tool, surfing the AI wave and claiming to use AI without being explicit on what they really do or how deeply they’re harnessing its possibilities for clients. Almost any developer can use AI to solve simple problems such as fraud detection or ranking using built-in frameworks such as TensorFlow or Theano, but when it comes to utilizing AI in a real-life environment with business constraints, things get more complex. In order to build out a framework that produces profitable results, algorithms must be trained for specific use cases: One needs to understand exactly the business case to solve, translate it into a mathematical problem, program it into the appropriate AI framework and then iterate to understand why it does or does not work. And for this, you need AI experts.
How Can Brands And Agencies Leverage AI? Pragmatically.
Marketers know AI isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a powerful tool, and we’re just barely scratching the surface on implementing as a way to more deeply understand marketing campaigns and media intelligence. Brands and agencies should and can leverage AI to drive real business results. I see three opportunities for brands seeking to evolve and include AI within a holistic digital strategy:
1. Knowing Your Customers And Predicting Their Behavior: AI can help brands and advertisers learn more about audiences. The better you get to know your customer, the better you can provide value with your product and service. Using AI, marketers now have the ability to learn about a customer’s interests based on browsing history, where they consume content, what kind of content they consume and their behaviors before or after they consume content. Based on this information, marketers can create targeted audience segments based on our predictions of customers most likely to watch a video, engage with content or even make a purchase.
2. Creating Operational Efficiencies: AI can be very effective at automating processes. For example, in advertising, marketers have the ability to use AI technology to better optimize toward specific business and campaign goals. For example, if the campaign goal is video viewability, AI can be used to predict if a user is likely to watch an ad completely and to make sure campaign spend is optimized toward that goal. If the campaign is meant to drive sales of products and services, you’ll want to ensure your ad isn’t just viewed but that your customer visits your website. AI can now be leveraged to predict what factors might contribute to a user landing on an advertiser’s website and work to optimize ad spend to drive return on investment.
3. Being Innovative And Creative: Dynamic creative optimization (DCO) is technology that serves personalized messaging, images and even video into an ad unit based on contextual signals about the user. While the underlying messaging and creative vision cannot be automated and still require a human touch, we’re rapidly approaching a time when predictive engines will be able to use libraries of different, contextually relevant creative elements to weave together just the right combination of images, copy or video to drive user actions and maximize branding opportunities with each impression. Decision-tree–based DCO is already being used effectively to tailor messaging to user contexts based on predefined rules. As predictive AI becomes more common, the effectiveness of these strategies will continue to improve.
Advertising Is About Creating Connections With Human Beings
We are already seeing a massive impact from AI, and yet we’ve only just begun. AI is evolving at the speed of light, and with any emerging technology comes hesitations and limitations. There’s a growing concern that AI will replace humans in the industry. What we all must remember is to go back to the basics: Advertising is ultimately about creating a connection with a human being. A machine will never have the emotional intelligence to create the same connection point that a human being can create with another human — but it’s a helpful tool to help us make those connections. Marketers need not fear the future of AI but should embrace it and take the time to get educated and understand how it works and how it can help them achieve better outcomes.
June 14, 2019 at 08:34AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs