Is It Time For A GARM For AI?

It's been nearly 10 months since the Association of National Advertisers updated its template for media agency contracts, recommending the inclusion of a clause that would require full disclosure and "prior consent" before agencies utilize AI to service their accounts. Since then, rapid advances in AI have been matched by ad industry announcements for integrating them, but until I saw an story this morning reporting that big brands have begun adding restrictions to their agency contracts, I hadn't heard much more about it.



In fact, I reached out to the ANA twice after it published an article in ANA Magazine citing the acceleration of AI integration among its membership, but so far, I haven't heard back.

I reached out, because I wanted to know how many clients have begun adding AI clauses to their agency contracts, and if so, what kinds of restrictions they've been requesting.

In the meantime, trade associations like the ANA have formed their own practices to advocate best practices for utilizing AI in advertising, media and marketing. In fact, the ANA has a conference on the subject slated for April 8-10 in Hollywood.

Eyeballing the agenda I don't notice anything espousing self-regulation for a rapidly advancing, disruptive technology that has the potential to wreak havoc on both businesses and consumers. But there at least is a good discussion slated on the "ethical and legal considerations" of AI for advertisers.

This morning, I also received a dispatch about a new AI initiative from the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), which in recent years has taken a very proactive stance on the implications of disruptive media technologies -- especially social media (see GARM), as well as the carbon impact advertising and media have on the climate crisis.

The WFA announced the formation of a new "AI Community" led by a leadership team of senior marketing, media, procurement, legal and marketing operations experts from the world’s biggest brands, whose goal is to help establish best practices, as well as mitigate legal, ethical and reputational risks for the ad industry (see the steering team below).

These steps are great, though largely informational and educational, which isn't surprising given how fast AI is evolving in the ad industry, but frankly, I think it's time for something more. Call it "GARM for AI," or something like that. I think it's time for the ad industry to organize a more collective, encompassing initiative to study the impact the integration of rapidly advancing AI technologies are having on the risk to both the industry and consumers alike.

Clearly this is tremendous upside to advertisers and agencies in utilizing AI to give enhance their super powers. But as Uncle Ben once told Spiderman, "With great power comes great responsibility."

As AI visionary Geoffrey Hinton said when he stepped away from his role leading Google's AI initiatives, its not as if we'll be able to put the AI genie back in its bottle, and that it's unregulated development poses a greater threat than climate change (see below).

So maybe the folks working on the WFA's new AI community can help get out in front of that and at least help develop a proactive ad industry response to it.

WFA "AI Community" Steering Committee:

    • Jérôme Amouyal, Media, Performance and Insights Director, AXA
    • Richard Kindred, Senior Legal Counsel, Digital and Commercial, Diageo
    • Gael De Talhouet, Vice President, Brand Building, Essity
    • Ekaterina Bueva, Head of Marketing Services International, Kraft Heinz
    • Adam Ingle, Global Lead, Digital Policy, The LEGO Group
    • Ramzi Chaabane, Global Category Manager, L’Oréal
    • Jacqui Stephenson, Global Responsible Marking Officer, Mars
    • Becky Verano, Global Vice President Creativity and Capabilities, Reckitt
    • Alyssa Fenoglio, Vice President, Global Head of Digital Commercial, Teva Pharmaceuticals
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