Creative Agency Of The Year: OpenAI

Artificial intelligence (AI) is not new and neither is generative AI -- a type of AI that can instantly create content in the form of text, as well as various types of images including stills, video, 3D renderings and more.

But when OpenAI released its first version of ChatGPT in November 2022, it captured the world’s imagination.

Its easy user interface and ability to churn out expressive and literate text in a matter of minutes, or even seconds, prompted millions of consumers to try out the technology within hours of its release.  

The company also has several generative AI image-creating tools including DALL-E that it has continued to refine and develop new iterations of over the past year.

This is also the case with the ChatGPT tool. In 2023 the company launched several updated versions including an “enterprise” grade version with enhanced security and privacy, higher-speed GPT-4 access, longer context windows for processing longer inputs, advanced data analysis capabilities, customization options, and more.

In November, at its first developer conference in San Francisco, OpenAI announced dozens of new product additions and improvements across its platform.   

Some agencies and marketers have spent years working to adapt AI tools to enhance a variety of products and services. The National Association of Advertisers’ “Marketing Word Of The Year” was Artificial Intelligence back in 2017.  

But the release of ChatGPT added new urgency to those efforts and prompted players throughout the industry to assess just how far ahead or behind the AI curve they were and how that would impact their businesses.  

In addition, the release of the platform also helped catapult AI more visibly into mainstream culture, for better or worse.

Many concerns surround the technology including privacy, brand safety and concerns that the technology will be applied to engage in a range of illicit activities.

Lawmakers around the globe are grappling with how to regulate AI’s future use. OpenAI itself made headlines in November due to an internal management battle over responsible development of future applications. 

And once again, this year AI was voted “marketing word of the year” by the ANA, whose members cited reasons such as “Generative AI will be the most disruptive technology for years to come” and “AI has dominated the marketing conversation this past year like nothing else.” 

While OpenAI is not an agency per se, it is a highly creative technology platform that has had an outsized impact on the agency world over the past year.

And that’s just a tiny sliver of its overall impact on markets, industries and society.

Given its impact and potential to be a major change agent for the advertising and marketing sector MediaPost has named the company its 2023 Creative Agency Of The Year. 

Much has been written about the accelerated “arms race” among the major tech platforms to develop advanced forms of AI and GenAI, and many credit OpenAI as being at least one of the catalysts for that acceleration.

Microsoft has been a major investor in OpenAI, while Google, Facebook, Amazon, Nvidia and others are vying to outdo one another in coming up with innovative and marketable AI products. 

And it’s fair to say that Adland is engaging in its own AI arms race to impress clients with its ability to create cutting-edge tools to help them succeed with marketing and growth goals.  

Throughout the past year, holding company CEOs have talked enthusiastically about strides their companies are making on the AI front.  

For example, in October Interpublic CEO Philippe Krakowski noted that the firm has “hundreds of new AI pilots underway across the company.” 

Of particular interest, he noted, are a group of “promising programs” with a strong focus on three new areas, including using AI to generate content — text, video and more — in the company’s ideation and creative processes. 

Another batch of pilots is focused on using the technology as a research tool to enhance strategy and insights as well as business trends for brands.  

He also noted the use of tests using “intelligent chatbots” to automate some tasks like product recommendations in the ecommerce space. 

“Given the impact AI will continue to have on all businesses, including ours, we are fully engaged with leading AI innovators, including Adobe, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Nvidia and Salesforce,” Krakowski noted.   

On the product development side, he noted that Huge recently launched a tool designed to help clients “anticipate the big shifts that GenAI will have in their industry, and identify opportunities for growth. 

Speaking to analysts and investors earlier this year, Omnicom CEO John Wren talked about the impact AI is having on creative, media and back-office operations.  

By way of example, Wren noted that Omnicom currently has a multitude of databases covering its 318-building real-estate portfolio and 70,000-person workforce, estimating it would take an internal team a full week, "if they worked really hard,” to compile it into a report to give to him. 

"If I type it into OpenAI, I can get the answer by myself in five minutes," he said. That speed and efficiency could lead to automation of rote tasks and the elimination of some jobs.

The goal, he added, is to reduce workflow and overhead in a way that enables Omnicom's "knowledge workers" to be more productive and competitive in the marketplace. 

He noted that Omnicom was testing various AI-enabled ways of creating ads utilizing "artbots."

As to media, "AI can give you a plan," he said, noting: "What it can’t do is give you information about every individual who lives in the New York metropolitan area."  

Some have suggested that AI could put advertising and marketing agencies out of business — that with the right AI-configurated tools, marketers could absorb all of what agencies do for them in house.  

When asked about that possibility during a recent CNBC interview, S4 Capital chief Martin Sorrell said that was something some smaller agencies might have to worry about, but not scaled enterprise businesses like the holding groups. But he did say some lower-level positions could be affected. “Why rely on a 25-year-old media buyer when an algorithm can do it more efficiently and we’ll be there to check the results?” he said.  

For agencies, Sorrell added, AI is a “super tool” that helps deliver “hyper personalization at scale” quickly and efficiently. He likened the technology to a new “industrial revolution.” 

And many agree the technology is fostering a revolution, a turn of events that has many people both excited and cautious about how the revolution will unfold.  

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