AI augments the agency arena

Written by: Samantha Wolhuter

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AI has a transformative power and over the last year we have looked at the ways it has been disrupting different industries. While machine learning and RPA seemed like a good fit for the banking and accounting arenas, just 24 months ago it seemed unlikely that it would have the capability of truly disrupting the creative industry outside of reading and analysing data. Well, much like the current adage goes, ‘nothing moves as fast as tech’ we are now seeing how the creative industry is being changed and compelled to adapt in the face of smarter AI.

Ad agencies and digital marketing firms are being forced to embrace new AI trends if they’re determined to not be left behind. So what are these trends? Is AI making marketing and branding efforts more effective?

There’s a new designer in town

In one of our previous articles, Creative Machines — How AI is disrupting art, we discussed how AI is influencing and creating music, art, and literature. So it’s no surprise that AI has worked itself into the digital realm of graphic design and photography. One particularly interesting example is Google’s DeepDream, a computer vision program that uses a Convolutional Neural Network, which is a class of deep neural networks most commonly used to analyse imagery. It finds and enhances patterns in images via algorithmic pareidolia.

Pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon that causes people to see patterns in a random stimulus.

DeepDream is able to take an image and alter it using various filters and tools to create almost dream-like appearances. The new visual is so different from the original and has the capacity to truly invoke emotion.

The capacity machines have to generate creative content should not be a cause for concern for designers, but rather something that creates great excitement as IBM CEO Ginni Rometty suggests:

The initials AI would be more helpful to artists if they were understood by designers as augmented intelligence, instead of the scarier-sounding artificial intelligence.”

Ginni Rometty, CEO (IBM).

An exceptional marketing campaign for Nutella was brought to life by AI when their agency used AI’s ability to decipher, generate and print unique images. The result was 7 million unique jar designs. The campaign and the packaging were so successful it resulted in over 10,000 consumer videos and with all jars selling out entirely within 30 days.

Put your creative on blast

With AIs predictive ability, many agencies are also using it to work out what layouts, image-text ratios and keywords drive optimal engagement by inputting mass amounts of campaign performance data. It takes the guesswork and human bias out of what works and what doesn’t. This may make a designer feel like they’re painting by numbers, but it’s important to note that AI has shown that there are several answers for x if X + AI = Great Advertising. You just need to head on over to Algorithm Driven Design to see the many applications and examples of AI augmenting design initiatives.

Amplify and optimise

From paid media, websites, up to sales optimisation, AI has the ability to enhance performance across all channels. With paid media, AI has the capacity to calculate an exceptionally higher number of data points than any human can, which in turn helps agencies improve their ad strategies. AI can also be used to automate site optimisation by analysing usage trends on user behaviour which then allows designers and web developers to adapt landing pages to ensure better user experiences while also driving conversion and sales. This article in Relevance gets into the nitty-gritty of how AI can help to amplify paid media strategies and campaigns.

AI as a product

The use of AI has also begun to go beyond a simple function to a service offering with agencies like R/GA creating a Brand AI team, with the intent of assisting clients with transforming their brand strategy to involve AI solutions that further their customer experience. One of their most interesting joint ventures to-date is Reply.AI which is marketed as a bot that builds bots. Another similar marketing platform that’s been making waves using AI chatbots to provide better customer service is Amplify.ai. It is being used by brands like Kohler, Change.org, BLUSH.me and Flawless by Gabrielle Union who have all adopted the platform to engage with their customer base through personalised messaging.

The jobs you do

As for how we use AI evolves, so do the roles that make use of AI change and develop. This means going into the future, instead of killing jobs, AI will create new jobs in the creative and marketing fields. From learning skills like augmented reality design to managing robotic production, through the line advertising jobs will be transformed to become much more exciting. The intent of AI creators is to free up our time to be more creative and strategic. Our limit for creative development will only stop short of where we let our imagination go.

Whether you buy into the term Augmented Intelligence or not, AI is already disrupting the agency realm in a big way. Which means advertisers and creators are just at the starting point of revolutionising how we engage with brands and consume content. As you might remember, in the early 2000s, there was a shift in advertising, where consumers were no longer happy being spoken at but began demanding real engagement with their favourite brands.

With the proliferation of AI, it will be interesting to see how this will change consumer behaviour and their collective expectations of brands. Will AI help advertisers drive a new way of marketing or will consumers demand change and adaptation? It all remains to be seen but I dare say, we won’t have to wait too long!

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Samantha Wolhuter
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Samantha Wolhuter
Sam is in charge of writing a big portion of WeAreBrain’s creative content. She is a digital nomad always on the go, inspiring us with her words from some of the world's most beautiful locations.
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