Insights

Where does AI fit into the future of advertising and marketing?

The effect of artificial intelligence will be felt across multiple industries, and advertising is no different. From programmatic buying to e-commerce, AI is already disrupting how brands engage with consumers. Early iterations of AI-enhanced advertising have led to a somewhat negative perception surrounding ads which “stalk” people around the internet, as well as fears of job displacements, but the real future of AI in advertising will rely on people collaborating to craft experiences which bring genuine value to consumers.

“Brands aren’t just existing by what they say but by what they do. They must create and spark new customer interactions,” says Ogilvy Consulting Senior Partner Pierre Robinet, speaking at The Economist’s Innovation Summit. “These interactions have to be relevant and useful, sharable and personal, providing an essential service at the right moment and in the right place.”

AI has a role to play here, as exemplified by Nestlé’s family nutrition assistant in China. As China is a country with low levels of nutrition literacy, nutrition informatin is sorely needed. Ogilvy saw an opportunity to bring that knowledge to users in a new way, using AI-powered devices to assist and inform families about nutrition in the kitchen while they are preparing meals.

In his panel at the Innovation Summit, Robinet shared insights on how and where he sees AI fitting into the advertising industry — and the long-term impact it will have.

Human jobs will evolve, not disappear

AI will displace specific tasks, not entire roles; and organizations keen to tap into its potential will need to rethink how they do business, including breaking down the walls between silos.

As Robinet puts it:

“At Ogilvy we believe that digital transformation that is customer-centric needs to be approached from a marketing, IT, and culture change point of view. When it comes to AI, and helping move a client to an AI enterprise model, it is much the same; We first examine marketing impact and then emphasize how AI will help brands interact better with the customer and generate growth. We bring our clients IT support, ensuring they have the right AI network infrastructure, and assess and clean their data. Finally, we support them in understanding the impact AI will have on their jobs and organization.”

“No AI enterprise will fit solely into one department; they have to work collectively. Most of the success we’ve had is because we bring together every silo and combine resources from every department in one room, so that we can co-create something that brings value.”

AI offers capability which can entirely reshape how we do business

Per Gartner’s predictions, by 2020, 85 per cent of customer interactions will be managed without the need for a human being. This presents a fantastic opportunity to rethink customer strategy. How do we engage with an AI-empowered customer who speaks more than they write, who uses their face and fingers to interact with their devices, who prizes a hassle-free experience?

Rather than thinking in terms of AI destroying jobs, consider a more fruitful approach: investigate how AI will disrupt entire business models. In fact, that is already happening.

“AI is going to impact the legacy cost and revenue structure of any company,” says Robinet. “Retailers are always trying to be more accurate in predicting which product you want to get from their platform. Amazon is already moving stuff into their warehouses based entirely on predictive demand, moving the model from ‘shopping then delivery’ to ‘delivery then shopping.”

We are currently in an exciting period of experimentation, where brands and marketers are exploring the different possibilities and applications of AI. Decision makers now must figure out how AI can impact business models to being a driver of growth. “Piloting is about testing in real life, so you can access deep, valuable human insight,” says Robinet.

We must demystify AI before people will accept it

In order to overcome fear and mistrust of issues like the mishandling of data, Robinet believes that that each and every consumer is equipped to understand these technologies so they can make an informed decision. “On one side, we need more fairness and ethics and transparency in AI, as well as specific frameworks and rules to do so” he says. “While on the other, we need to empower people, give them the right tools, services and education, and motivate them to share their data.”

Acceptance will be key in AI adoption.

As AI is becoming more and more ambient every day, we must inscribe it in a logic of attentive and intentional environment, giving it the ability to express its attention and intentions towards us. We must think about the importance of customer experience design as well and how to best enable consumers to interact and communicate with machines. This is where brands come into play, sparking interactions that are both individual and universal.

Robinet outlines four broad guiding measures for companies who are looking to shift towards an AI enterprise.

1. Applicable. Is there a problem facing your customer that AI can solve?

2. Readiness. Are your augmented customers ready for an AI solution?

3. Intimacy. Are you designing something which makes your brand matter?

4. Impact. Are you solving the business problem? How does this affect your business?