Advertisers Warily Embrace A.I. – The New York Times

The advertising industry has a love-hate relationship with artificial intelligence.

Over the past few months, the technology has made it easier to generate and track ads. Create marketing emails with subject lines and delivery times tailored to specific gave optician Provided and assisted in setting up fashion shoots on alien planets Denmark Tourism Board Animate famous tourist destinations.Heinz took advantage of it and generated Recognizable image of a ketchup bottleand combined it with a symphonic theme depicting human evolution in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.

But AI is putting the marketing world in jeopardy. Much has been said about the potential of this technology to limit the need for human workers in areas such as law and financial services. Marketing executives say the advertising industry is already suffering from economic pressures such as inflation, as well as an outflow of talent due to job cuts and increased automation, and is particularly at risk of an AI overhaul.

At last week’s “AI for Marketers” event, which drew more than 200 people, ambivalent attitudes swirled in a co-working space in downtown San Francisco. Copywriters expressed concern and skepticism about chatbots that could create ad campaigns, while startup founders pitched AI tools to automate the creative process.

“It doesn’t really matter if you’re afraid. The tools are here. So what do we do?” says so. “We can stand here and do nothing, or we can learn how to apply it.”

Machine learning, a subset of artificial intelligence that uses data and algorithms to mimic how humans learn, has quietly influenced advertising for years. Madison Avenue used it to target specific audiences, buy and sell ad space, provide user support, create logos, and streamline operations. (One advertising agency big lebotsky It helps clients create ad copy and boost their profile on search engines).

Enthusiasm slowly grew. When advertising group Publicis introduced Marcel, an AI business assistant, in 2017, its peers reacted with what they described as “angry, joking and negative.”

At last month’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, a glorious pinnacle on the advertising calendar, Publicis had a “told you” moment. Around the festival’s panel-filled agenda about AI being “unleashed” and influencing the “future of creativity,” the company argued: artificially created posters It was a mockery of the initial reaction to Marcel.

“Is it okay to talk about AI at Cannes now?” the ad joked.

The answer is clear. Since late last year, when OpenAI released its ChatGPT chatbot, sparking a global arms race over generative artificial intelligence, the industry has been reluctant to discuss much else.

McDonald’s asked the chatbot the name of the world’s most iconic burger, and the answer was ‘Big Mac’ splashed around the world. video and signboards, pictures AI generated retort From fast food rivals.Coca-Cola Hires Digital Artists To generate 120,000 riffs It uses an AI platform, partly built by OpenAI, to represent brand images such as curved bottles and swooping logos.

The proliferation of AI experiments has surfaced many legal and logistical challenges, including the need to protect reputation and avoid misleading consumers.

A recent campaign by Virgin Voyages allowed users to display the following message on Jennifer Lopez’s digital avatar: customized video invitations Include the names of guests who may be on your cruise. However, to prevent Lopez from appearing to use inappropriate language, the avatar can only say names that are on a pre-approved list, and otherwise default to “friends” or began to use terms such as “seaman”.

“It’s still early days. We’ve had challenges getting the models right, getting the looks right, making the sounds right, and there’s so many humans involved throughout,” the company says. Brian Yamada, Chief Innovation Officer, said. VMLY&R is the agency that produced the campaign for Virgin.

Elaborate interactive campaigns like Virgin make up the minority of ads. 30-second video clips and images with captions are much more common, often with slightly tailored variations for different demographics. In recent months, several big tech companies, including Meta, Google and Adobe, have unveiled artificial intelligence tools to handle that kind of work.

Advertising giants say the technology could streamline their bloated business models.Advertising group WPP is working with chip maker Nvidia to make it easier for car companies, for example, to Incorporate vehicle footage Create customized scenes for your local market without having to painstakingly shoot different commercials around the world.

For many people involved in such commercials, advances in AI are looming obsolete, especially in the face of slowing growth over the last few years and a shift in advertising budgets from TV and other legacy media to programmatic advertising and social platforms. It feels like Media agency GroupM predicted last month that artificial intelligence is likely to impact at least half of all advertising revenue by the end of 2023.

“There is little doubt that the future of creativity and AI will become increasingly intertwined,” said Philip Krakowski, chief executive of advertising giant Interpublic Group.

Having hired a chief AI officer and similar executives years before ChatGPT’s debut, IPG now wants to use the technology to deliver highly personalized experiences.

“That said, maintaining the pace of progress requires applying a very high level of diligence and discipline, and working together across industries to mitigate bias, misinformation and security risks. Yes,” Krakowski added.

AI’s ability to copy and deceive has already been widely publicized in political marketing by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and others, alarming many ad executives. They are also concerned about intellectual property issues and the direction and speed of AI development. Organizations such as the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity, where several ad agencies aim to track content from its origin, and the Partnership on AI, which aims to keep technology ethically sound. participated in.

In the midst of despair and depression, agency Wunderman Thompson decided to lower its AI peg this spring.

In a campaign for KitKat candy bars in Australia, the agency used OpenAI’s text and image generator to create a deliberately jerky ad with the tagline, “AI made this ad so you can take a break.” Created an ad. in one, distorted figures munching on blurry chocolate bars over a mechanical drab narrated script. “Someone hands them a KitKat bar. They take a bite.”

Annabelle Burnham, general manager of Wunderman Thompson in Australia, said the campaign is now in progress, in part because rapid advances in technology have eliminated many of the flaws that existed just a few months ago. He said it would be more difficult to pull off. Still, she said people are always key in the advertising process.

“Creativity comes from true human insight. AI will always struggle with it because it relies purely on data to make decisions,” she said. “I mean, it can enhance the process, but it can never take away from what the creators can actually do in the end, because it requires a human element.”

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