Make Advertising Great Again

Advances in AI and machine learning mean advertising could be facing its most disruptive era.
30 November 2018

Intelligent Digital Signage , Augmented reality marketing and face recognition concept. Source: Shutterstock

In the good old days, advertising was always geared towards the more traditional outlets, such as television, radio, outdoor and print. But these days, as everything goes digital first, so does the art of advertising.

Make no mistake, highly-targeted advertising is here to stay, and while our online experiences are dominated by what giants like Facebook, Google and Amazon choose to do in the marketplace; perhaps the more pertinent aspect of this brave new world revolves around machine learning (ML).

ML and artificial intelligence (AI) are often intertwined these days, and their predictive learning capabilities are altering the digital marketplace, using algorithms that analyze, compare and identify configurations that appeal to the masses— all while maximizing ROI, hitting KPIs and optimizing spend.

While these technologies cater for staggering granularity in audience targeting— distributing ad spend based on viewable impressions to hit the desired audience based on the needs, trends and nuances of each desired target market— the potential for data collection, in this day and age, is truly something else.

Consumers always have certain buying patterns, likes, and dislikes which are now accessible via data that is being collected from a myriad of touch points. Decision-makers in the marketing field now have the tools to ensure the efficiency, speed, and relevancy of their advertising in an ever more crowded arena.

Programmatic advertising uses AI to optimize buying and selling ads on mobile, display, video and social channels on platforms like Google, Facebook and Twitter— and a universe of web publishers—  optimized with insights on audience to drive highly-targeted and highly-viewable campaigns.

A show of these technologies leading role, search and advertising giant Google, meanwhile, calls itself “AI first”— AdWords is predominantly powered by ML— while Juniper Research predicts the technology to be on track to generate US$42 billion in annual advertising spend by 2021, growing from US$3.5 billion in 2016.

So what does the future hold for ML and AI? With the number of consumer data touchpoints growing by the day as they navigate their daily lives— advertisers can now gather voice search data through voice assistants, for example, the era of highly-personalized advertising is arguably just beginning.

Sir Martin Sorrell, while subject to recent controversy, is adamant that the relationship between clients and agencies are undergoing massive recalibrations. In this day and age, he believes that the old adage of “faster, better and cheaper” is the way to go, and advanced technology is the inevitable way to achieve that.

Ultimately, ML and AI are taking the advertising industry by the scruff of its neck. It’s a brave new world for advertisers, marketers and consumers alike. While creative agencies now have to concentrate on end-to-end customer journeys too, a new dawn for advertising is beckoning.

As Charles Darwin once said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”