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Is AI an Advertiser's Friend or Foe?

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If the mention of Artificial Intelligence conjures up images of a '50s sci-fi movie with tin-lined robots and fishing line special effects, it might be a good time to sit down in front of your computer and see what AI has become.

For advertisers in a dynamic, bustling and fickle marketplace, Artificial Intelligence has little to do with sentient cyborgs taking over humanity. It has everything to do with an incredibly expanded level of efficiency, effectiveness, and capacity.

Unlike its cinematic counterparts, AI is nothing more than an incredibly powerful tool that allows advertisers and creative teams to better identify and understand market trends, automate the more tedious tasks and, most importantly, free them to create and innovate.

To that point, today's advertisers should see AI more like a powerful and inevitable barometer in the maelstrom of modern advertising rather than a faceless, soulless void that will replace all signs of humanity in marketing.

In short, when coupled with the innate creativity, drive and uniqueness of an advertising team, the efficiencies afforded by Artificial Intelligence will simply allow that team to reach their goals in a much more streamlined and productive way.


A.I. and Its Many Forms

When applied to advertising, AI is a generalized term that encompasses many different functions and forms.

First and foremost, AI can be an incredibly predictive tool that uses data and programmed algorithms to create models for market and consumer trends.

Once adopted, the AI can be tasked with the difficulties of quantifying the complexities of human behavior, including every petty foible and impulse, curiosity and desire. All of this data is poured into models that allow an advertiser to further hone in on the specific moods, moments and opportunities that can maximize the effectiveness of a campaign. 

By integrating these AI applications into everyday duties, a creative team will no longer need to go through the arduous task of analyzing market data, since the bulk of the entire process will be completely automated. If the advertiser is willing and able to allow the AI system to handle such tasks, the time, effort and headaches saved should be well worth any initial trepidation.

Similarly, AI can heal the fractured nature of many creative teams with a far more cohesive and efficient approach.

With the many varied platforms involved in a typical digital campaign, often handled by separate individuals, it's inevitable for a certain degree of miscommunication to occur.

Once it's integrated into the process, AI will not replace the creators of the digital assets but merely better sync the content with the distribution. An advertising team will no longer need to worry about coordinating the timing and method of content deployment since the AI system will automate the process.

While the sacrificing of control might seem intimidating to some, it's important to remember that the advertiser still maintains complete autonomy over the AI system and can therefore override any decisions the system might make.

This, of course, is yet another example of how AI is best used as an accompaniment to human decision-making and ingenuity rather than relegating us to a foreboding, Matrix-like inevitability.


A Look Into the Future

Like many technologies, the greatest benefits AI could provide to an advertiser may have yet to be fully discovered. Aside from the obvious advantages of enhanced efficiency and time management, the real power of AI most likely lies in its predictive abilities.

Given the complexities of human nature, the capacity to predict consumer behavior in a timely and accurate manner has long been the holy grail for advertisers. Short of a Manchurian Candidate-esque scenario, the intricate mix of emotion, thought, personal preference and experience has proven to be a tough and likely impossible endeavor for even the most forward-thinking agencies.

However, with modern processing power and an ever-increasing ability to construct algorithms that can absorb these intricacies, AI will give advertisers the incredibly powerful ability to accurately customize campaigns virtually down to the individual consumer.

The truly futuristic quality that AI will bring to advertising is its ability to learn from itself as it amasses more data and experience. As time passes, the algorithms driving the AI will build upon themselves as they continue to better understand human behavior.

At some point, advertisers will be able to factor hypothetical scenarios into the AI, mainly gaining the ability to accurately predict a consumer's actions and reactions given different scenarios.


Don't Fear the Rise of the Machines

Artificial Intelligence has long had negative connotations, primarily due to its hackneyed placement as a shadowy antagonist from the disciples of Isaac Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke.

The truth, of course, is entirely different from the sci-fi-fueled dreams that made AI a cloaked cinematic and literary enemy. While a grizzled, soulless cyborg might be fantastic for an advertising campaign, reality tells us that AI is nothing more than a group of related technologies that will allow advertisers and creative teams to concentrate on what they do best and thrive in the freedom to innovate.

Ultimately, advertising is a creative endeavor and creativity is a uniquely human trait. Content will always need to be created, developed and nurtured by human-based teams. The AI provides design guidelines and handles the best ways to deploy that content within a campaign.

While the very thought of such automation will always frighten and intimidate some, it's an absolute inevitability for the ad industry and one that should be embraced, not feared.

Artificial Intelligence will never replace advertisers. It will, however, make you better and more efficient at your job.

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