Why AI Powered Creative Is The Most Important Change In Advertising Development History – Forbes

Different Ad Copy & Visuals Tested by the IBM Watson AI Accelerator For The Car TEGANROMERO

Different Ad Copy & Visuals Tested by the IBM Watson AI Accelerator

IBM

Over the course of my career, I’ve worked with 13 different ad agencies as a client and as an Account Exec at J. Walter Thompson, on businesses ranging from CPG Food, Financial Services, and Health and Beauty Aid products. Developing ad campaigns was always hit or miss.  We were never sure it was optimized, had little idea which micro-targets it resonated with most, and it could take as long as 6 months to a year in test markets like IRI BehaviorScan to determine the sales impact. By that time, market dynamics could have changed.

Fast forward to 2021 and AI powered, multivariate ad creation can tell which aspects of ad creative are resonating with whom. It can be optimized instantaneously, not only for display ads, but now also for OTT video ads and it will become more pervasive as 5G penetration grows. Elements can be varied and combined in different ways, including music tracks, voice overs, sound effects, video clips and sequences, hero shots, scripts, text overlays, end cards, and calls to action.  

Through AI and machine learning, ads are optimized at scale across sectors for micro-targets that can be defined in multiple ways including demographics, psychographics, life stage, purchase behavior, customer journey stage, and KPI’s like video completion, app installs, site visits, purchase/conversion, and actions like filling out forms. The technology also enables a new form of targeting based on message resonance. Characteristics of consumers that respond to different message element combinations can inform brand persona profiles. AI powered creative takes the guesswork out of advertising with more actionable, diagnostic information, within the context of brand campaign big ideas.  

With Apple’s end to the IDFA (ID for Advertising) announced last month and Google phasing out 3rd Party cookies in early 2022, it will be more difficult for brands to figure out which micro-targets are responding to different display ads. Services like IBM’s Watson Advertising’s Accelerator fills the void in a way that respects privacy, without the need for traditional advertising identifiers that are exiting the ecosystem. I spoke with David Olesnevich, Head of Product at IBM Watson Advertising, who shared that it’s changing the way advertising is developed and how creative professionals can better maximize ROI for clients.  It’s a modular and smarter way to develop ads.  

With the capability of analyzing so many individual creative elements, there will be a greater need to develop asset variations to feed the AI systems that crave data. As a result, creative agencies, in partnership with clients, will broaden their thinking to include a wider range of assets and messaging hypotheses for testing. “Since the learning is continuous, new hypothesis will be informed by the AI-derived insights in an iterative process, continuously yielding better results,” said Olesnevich. “It’s a welcome change for creatives, who find it empowering because they can think more broadly, experiment more, and learn faster,” he added. IBM Advertising Accelerator with Watson can be deployed via most display, video and OTT/CTV platforms now in the U.S., with audio and social platforms as well as International expansion planned for the second half of 2021.   

Accelerator for OTT can create personalized, optimized ad experiences for each member of the household, across devices: for example, watching HULU on connected TV, NBC Peacock on a smart phone, and CNN on a laptop. It also provides insights for buying placement based on each target group’s responses depending on where and when the ads are served.

An extremely important and current example is the Covid vaccine messaging done by the Ad Council to generate the most effective creative at converting viewers to get the vaccine. This year, the Ad Council is spearheading a sweeping education campaign to encourage Americans to take the Covid-19 vaccine and IBM committed its AI creative ad capabilities to optimize the campaign. Research found four key areas of consumer concerns with getting vaccinated: Safety of the vaccines, the speed at which the vaccines were developed, distrust in the U.S. government, and conspiracy theories. The Ad Council is adjusting the creative accordingly for each different “resonance group.”

Key Take-Aways for Marketing Execs

Since Apple already ended its IDFA and Google is projected to end its 3rd party cookie tracking in early 2022, brands and their creative agencies should start now to learn and get good at working together to both develop the elements that will feed into Programmatic AI and at reading and optimizing results. This will involve generating lots of hypothesis about elements to vary and creating a range of assets to test. The new mindset and way of working are an adjustment, but once brand and creative teams get used to it, the information and insights should be a welcome change.