"In business, all you need is a slightly increased probability to be effective," Pratt said.
Currently, the advertising industry utilizes AI in two basic ways: to analyze people through data and machine learning and to create technology-enabled interfaces to complete basic tasks, said Josh Sutton, Publicis.Sapient's head of artificial intelligence. Many agencies are launching AI divisions, mining the data they have on users through ad tech firms and social media platforms to create advertising faster and, theoretically, better.
"[AI] not being creative per se," Sutton said. "It's understanding that 'if I show these kind of things to a person, I can evoke this kind of response.' I hate to say it, but it's rules-based — but a lot of our emotions are rules-based."
AI GOES BIBLICAL
To promote Canal+'s series "The Young Pope" in France, the show teamed up with agency Havas and IBM Watson to create AiMen. Its mission: "What if in the XXIst century a Pope decided to use Artificial Intelligence to preach God's word to Internet users?"
The team behind AiMen uploaded all their research and scripts into the program. From there, the AI parsed out tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube or Daily Motion comments that had expressed anger, envy or egotism. Then, the AI would respond with a Biblical verse. If the user responded, the AI would continue its pious banter.
"Eeeeeeeeee I become really mad when I see a GT86, it's such a beautiful car :(" one user tweeted in French.
"Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked; Psalms 37:16," the AI tweeted back.
"No, but Lyon is really a losing team," wrote a Facebook user. "Not f****g winning..."
"Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart; Acts 8:22" the AI responded.
With each interaction, AiMen learned to be more clever and witty. Since it launched on Oct. 28, it has analyzed upward of 4.45 million posts, responded back almost 885,000 times and learned a little under 40,000 Bible verses.
"I think it's the first time we created an intelligent agent, acting as a marketing promotional tool for a god object," said Jason Jercinovic, global head of marking innovation at Havas. "Our thesis is some people are not going to know this is a marketing campaign. They're going to go to battle with the bot, and that's interesting."
While it can interact and "read" emotion, AiMen still needed humans to create the content it used for "inspiration." It can't create its own moral code and Bible from scratch, nor could it create a personality without the help of the team that created the show. But using those references, it could discern what emotion people were expressing and respond all on its own.
"The promise of what AI will be able to do is to start to knock on the door with emotional words or knock on the door of what will lead to do emotional decisions, said Alan Schulman, managing director of brand and creative content marketing for Deloitte Digital. "But the end of the day conception or ideation is a human thing."
Advertising is such an emotion-based industry, Schulman pointed out.
"Algorithms don't feel," he said. "People feel."
What AI is leading to is the personalization of marketing, a concept of creating "markets of one," Havas' Jercinovic explained. Instead of a billboard that is likely to appeal to the masses, marketers can create personalized ads that will appeal to you. And, brands can reach you on all your devices, whether that's on TV, your work computer or your phone.
AI will also take over the more menial, basic entry level tasks, he said. Already, on a basic level, he pointed out we rely on AI somewhat to schedule our meetings or book a flight with a chat bot. We yell for Alexa if we want to know movie times. Siri can send texts for us.
"I see the tools and platforms that are coming out that are AI enabled assisting the doctors, not replacing them," Jercinovic said.
"What does it mean for the people that went through that to become the partners in the law firms or the nurses because they were the doctor's aides for a long time?" he pondered. "That's what the question is."
WHEN MACHINES BECOME MORE THAN MAN
Jercinovic, however, isn't worried about creative industries like advertising. There will always be a need for people to come up with the idea for an advertising campaign or write (or at least approve) clever text to sell a product, he said.
"We as creative people want to be involved in that process," Jercinovic said. "On the recipient side of it, we're still making sure that voice is right and that experience comes to life."
Media planners who decided when and where to buy advertising may find their jobs automated because of AI's ability to perfect the right time for supply and demand. M&C Saatchi's Ellis admits, however, that the technology is far from that day.
Expect both changing roles in the industry — like copywriters working with AI — and new jobs to emerge managing AI platforms, Ellis said.
AI has lead to the integration of creative and technology teams, Publicis.Sapient's Sutton pointed out. At the end of the day, while some jobs may no longer be necessary, he feels that there will be an increase in the number of people needed to complete these more complex, more personalized ads. There may even been needs for new positions, such as executives with AI specialties.
"Every time there has been a big new technology, there has been a groundswell of people asking is this going to replace all our jobs?" Sutton said. "Is it going to be chaos? What consistently happens is there's more work created or more work needed to meet the new demands."
What is clear is AI will help us create new or unique ad formats, said Deutsch's Binch calling it a "liberating force." One of his projects, Volkswagen's Unleash your Rrrr, is an artificial intelligence-enabled program that lets people control a virtual car around a winding road by making car sounds. Rrrrs, vrooms, eerrks and the like let cars accelerate, turn and screech along hairpin turns. It was the first AI that was capable of understanding abstract sounds and emotions.
"Writers have a place in this new AI economy," Binch said. "There's a new place for technologists. It reformats us in a way that we may not be coming up with a technology solution [for our advertising jobs right now], but we're going to be able to use this technology in new and creative ways on behalf of a brand."
It's allowing people to focus on the creative side of coming up with ideas, rather than the nuts and bolts of engineering the advertising campaign.
"AI is going to replace everybody, but we're a ways from that," he added somewhat reassuringly. "AI can do so much, but it can't replace human charisma or creativity — yet."
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