Artificial intelligence (AI) is having a major moment. The rise of generative AI impacts many jobs across sectors and is already transforming the way we work and the skills we need to run our businesses. Over the past year, conversations about AI have risen 173% on Instagram as people talk about everything from how AI can solve maths problems to creative ways to word things and produce vibrant and colourful images. And it’s just the beginning of discovering how AI technology can enable human creativity to help businesses and people work better.
At the Pioneers event held during Advertising Week New York ‘23, Alison Weissbrot, editor-in-chief of Campaign US; Ajaa Long, director of global clients at Meta; Sarah Stringer, EVP and head of innovation and U.S. media partnership at Dentsu; and Jatinder Singh, managing director of global head of data and analytics at Accenture Song, discussed the applications of generative AI and its implications on marketing and advertising.
Transforming the landscape
A leader in the technological revolution, Meta has “invested in AI for years as a way to power innovation, research and new tools and create connectivity across our platforms,” said Long.
As the industry moves beyond using AI for optimisation and performance media, clients’ primary focus is on how generative AI can improve efficiency and effectiveness. “Having these types of tools is going to allow us to do a lot more and add humanity back into a lot of the work that, previously, we've asked a lot of very talented people to do,” Stringer said.
“Generative AI allows us to then look at things that are already available to us, search and ask questions, and interrogate the data in brand new and interesting ways."
As a co-pilot, AI is helping humans address mediocrity and get to insights more quickly, Singh said. For example, what used to take 100 hours for a human to do can take AI 20, which leaves the team with more time to discover a white space opportunity or something unexpected, he explained.
In addition to elevating human creativity and insights, AI is also impacting sales and service. For example, a client provides customer service in many of Australia’s spoken languages with AI so that “everybody is having the same level of service,” Singh added.
New technology can elicit a “fear of the unknown” response. Many fear AI will replace jobs or render processes obsolete; but in fact, we’re seeing quite the opposite where generative AI is empowering marketers to do things much more quickly and effectively, and freeing up their time to focus on more strategic work.
With each technological advancement, “there’s always the fear of ‘Am I going to become obsolete?” Singh said. Accenture Song instead views it as an opportunity “to automate all of those mundane tasks, rescale and upskill our talent so that they can future protect our business and our clients’ business as well.”
Humans are the ones that can “create connectivity, create brands that people genuinely love and then understand the needs of people, individuals, groups of people and meet those,” Stringer said. Rather than replacing human intelligence, AI “provides a toolkit and a co-pilot to facilitate and take off some of the heavy lifting and laborious work so we can do the things that an AI system is never going to be able to do, which is understand all of us in our beautiful, weird ways and actually get to an insight where people think the work is good,” she added.
The potential of generative AI
While generative AI is nascent, the time to experiment is now in order to take advantage of the technology in the future. Focus on specificity and gain insight into how to use generative AI to accelerate product development and innovation as well as impact talent, commerce, sales, service and marketing, Singh advised.
“It's impacting an entire organisation, we call it total enterprise reinvention,” he explained. “Think of it in those buckets as well as an enterprise impact as well as a talent and organisational impact, because there are cultural changes that need to happen and the technology is going to flow through all of those parts of the ecosystem.”
In this era of exploration, “our back-of-house has never been sexier to our entire organisation,” Stringer said. “We have some incredible people who are creating all the pipelines to ensure that we have safe play areas for our teams to dabble in data, to play around with the data.” Out of this playspace, Dentsu recently launched d.SCRIPTOR, a product providing better generative text solutions.
Meta also has a testing playground, AI Sandbox, that provides advertisers a space to experiment with new AI tools and experiences. “We did this with a small group and have since made these tools available in ads manager and they will be rolled out globally by 2024,” Long concluded. “We like to say the job is only 1% finished and in the case of AI this could not be more than true, we're just in the beginning.”