AI Will Empower -- Not Replace -- The Creative Shop

Artificial intelligence (AI) captured marketers’ attention for much of 2017 — not surprising, since they likely see lots of promise in what AI can bring to their digital campaigns.

However, as with all new trends, the buzz brings both promise and confusion. Many across the industry conflate what AI can actually do today with the promise of what it may be able to accomplish in the future.

And there is growing concern that AI could have a negative impact on the creative field, not just in terms of output, but on jobs as well. If machines can write ads, why employ full creative departments?

AI cannot generate creative now, nor will it ever replace an entire creative team. It’s not here to replace, but to empower the creative field.

AI ensures the creative team can make associations and predictions based on the combination of key assets and data insights — which include messaging, features, catalogs, or basically any relative brand creative assets.

This process is comparable to the way streaming music platforms develop customized playlists for users. Users still need to feed songs into the platform so it knows what they like. There’s no way an algorithm could generate a personalized playlist without human input and still adhere directly to the end user’s taste. The same goes for AI-powered ads. The creative team develops the assets, writes the ads — and machine learning makes those ads appear smarter and more likely to elicit a response.

This process is actually in use across hundreds of retailer websites today, where product recommendation engines serve consumers more options based on what other consumers have looked at or purchased.

According to a recent report from Narrative Science, 61% of respondents with an innovation strategy say they are using AI to identify opportunities in data that would otherwise be missed. This same idea has progressed to the point where marketers can harness it for predictive marketing, where AI learns which creative goes best with which audience, or which creative an individual is more likely to respond to.

Again, the human element isn’t replaced, but supported. A marketing strategy may dictate that women aged 18 to 24 will receive ads for a pink women’s razor. To most marketers and creative strategists, this seems like an easy point to agree on. However, AI might look at data insights and the campaign results differently, and see that women buy men’s razors more often because the creative message resonates with them more.

There are so many ways AI can learn over time and be used for predictive marketing. For example, AI might find that grandparents respond best to one particular message in a holiday-themed video game ad. The AI takes existing creative and finds openings outside of conventional wisdom. These are scenarios marketers and their creative teams likely haven’t thought before, and AI can process and model the information in a way that human brains can’t.

Creative teams and brands have nothing to fear from AI. The promise of personalization within advertising should open up new doors to creative teams, rather than restrict them. AI is not going to start writing taglines, nor is it going to replace the creative shop; art direction and branding will always have a place. What advertisers will find going forward is that they have more tools than ever to take their creative strategy to the next level.

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