AI is boosting advertising’s value 

Quantcast sales director Daniel O'Connor looks at the role of artificial intelligence is playing in a field driven by human connection.

For as long as digital and engineering progress have existed, people have approached the emergence of new technologies with resistance, skepticism, and even fear. This is true now of technologies including the internet, robotics, and artificial intelligence (AI). With advancing technology allowing automation to replace jobs, algorithms to make decisions on the behalf of humans, and machines to predict what your next purchase might be, it’s understandable that there is some social fear and unrest about today’s digital technologies.  

Having worked with AI and machine learning technologies over the last decade, I know that we’re only just beginning to discover and apply their potential to improve and add value to our lives, particularly in advertising.

Evidence suggests that AI is creating more jobs than it is displacing 

There’s now plenty of evidence showing that AI is creating more jobs than it is replacing. 

  • In an analysis of a dozen Asian economies over 2005 and 2015, the Asia Development Bank found that technology-driven increased productivity would cause a loss of 101 million jobs per annum, but also create 134 million new jobs because the adoption of robotics stimulated higher overall productivity and economic growth. 
  • A Michael Page report estimates that AI will eliminate 1.8 million jobs, but create 2.3 million more in Asia Pacific by 2020. 
  • The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020 estimates that 85 million jobs will be displaced, while 97 million new jobs will be created across 26 countries by 2025.

AI will help to automate many repetitive tasks and likely change the function of many other jobs, allowing workers to focus on higher-value activities. These enhanced jobs will create benefits for both businesses and individuals, allowing them to become more creative, strategic, and entrepreneurial. 

Why AI works for the advertising industry 

Today, advertising encompasses a wide variety of digital formats, channels, and devices. The vehicle at the centre of this evolving landscape is programmatic advertising. Investment in programmatic advertising spend is slated to reach USD $299 billion in APAC alone in 2021.   

The advertising supply chain today often involves multiple tools, including demand side platforms (DSP), supply side platforms (SSP), data management platforms (DMP), customer data platforms (CDP), brand safety and measurement vendors, and other parties that operate between advertisers and publishers.  

Internally, organisations might have a team of digital strategists, planners, and brand marketers to identify the right audiences to reach, manage, and optimise multiple campaigns, test and learn with different creative formats, and deliver on set goals and metrics. Frankly, it’s a lot.  

This is where AI and machine learning technologies come into their own:  

  • Making sense of infinitely larger datasets to discover consumer preferences 

Marketers today have access to more data than ever, often far more than they can organise and utilise. As audience data becomes paramount in a cookieless world, AI can help agencies, brands, and publishers streamline analyses and better understand who their consumers are, and what they want. 

  • Improving customer knowledge 

AI can help identify consumer patterns in real time, which in turn helps marketers optimise their campaigns, rather than relying on static segmentation and hoping for the best.     

  • Providing valuable learnings for future campaigns at speed 

AI provides insights and recommendations to facilitate both tactical and strategic decision-making more accurately, and at speed. This is only possible because machine-driven intelligence is able to process huge datasets and patterns from a wide range of elements involved in programmatic advertising today (such as a user’s browsing history, past purchases online, and previous interactions with ads) at a much quicker pace than humans can.  

As such, AI can help marketers maximise their digital spend allocations, quickly improve campaigns, fine-tune marketing strategies, reach previously undiscovered audiences, and boost return on investment (ROI) more efficiently by reducing ad spend waste. 

AI augments human intelligence in advertising, rather than replaces it 

At a basic level, machine learning algorithms are programmed by humans, and while there are certainly issues that need to be addressed, such as biases in AI, these technologies are helping to make jobs more meaningful. For example, by using AI-powered advertising platforms to achieve consistent results, agencies can focus on higher-value tasks, like strategy, instead of how to hit monthly performance goals.  

AI is taking over… the repetitive and mundane tasks, thereby freeing up our industry to focus on the more human, creative and often more rewarding elements of work.  

Today, not only have more jobs been created because of AI, I’ve discovered more fulfilment in my role and am able to bring more value to my client relationships because of these technologies.  

AI can’t replace the relationships we have with brands, consumers, and publishers. Ultimately, as much as AI enhances what we do, advertising is a very human game, and will continue to be so.  

Daniel O’Connor is a sales director at Quantcast.


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