Advertisers Cautiously Embrace Artificial Intelligence – The New York Times

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

In the past few months, technology has made it easier to create and track ads. She writes marketing emails with subject lines and delivery times tailored to specific subscribers. she gave Optometrist A way to set the fashion on the alien planet helped Danish Tourism Office Moving famous tourist sites. Heinz turned to her to generate Distinctive pictures of ketchup bottlethen paired them with the symphonic theme charting human evolution in the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

However, artificial intelligence has also thrown the world of marketing into crisis. Much has been done about the potential of technology to reduce the need for workers in areas such as law and financial services. Marketing officials said advertising, which is already suffering from inflation and other economic pressures as well as a talent drain due to layoffs and increased automation, is particularly at risk of being overhauled by artificial intelligence.

Conflicting attitudes caused a co-working space in downtown San Francisco where more than 200 people gathered last week for an “Artificial Intelligence for Marketers” event. Copywriters have expressed concern and skepticism about chatbots capable of writing ad campaigns, while startup founders have rolled out AI tools to automate the creative process.

“It doesn’t really matter if I’m afraid or not: the tools are here, so what do we do?” said Jackson Beeman, whose AI user group organized the event. “We can stand here and do nothing, or we can learn to apply it.”

Machine learning, a subset of artificial intelligence that uses data and algorithms to mimic how humans learn, has been quietly working on ads for years. Madison Avenue used it to target specific audiences, buy and sell advertising space, provide user support, create banners and streamline their operations. (One ad agency has a specialized AI tool called The Big Lebotski To help clients create ad text and boost their profile on search engines).

The enthusiasm came gradually. In 2017, when ad group Publicis introduced Marcel, an artificial intelligence business assistant, her peers responded with what it described as “anger, banter, and negativity.”

At last month’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the glittering pinnacle of the advertising industry’s calendar, Publicis had its own “I told you so” moment. Around the festival, where the agenda is stuffed with panels about “unleashing” artificial intelligence and influencing the “future of creativity,” the company has pasted Artificially created stickers which parodied Marcel’s original reactions.

“Is it okay to talk about artificial intelligence in Cannes now?” Announcements teased.

The answer is clear. The industry has wanted to discuss little else since late last year, when OpenAI launched its ChatGPT chatbot, setting off a global arms race around generative AI.

McDonald’s asked a chatbot to name the world’s most famous burger and spread the answer – a Big Mac – across videos billboards and painting Responses generated by artificial intelligence Fast food competitors. Coca-Cola has recruited digital artists To generate 120,000 reefs on its brand images, including the curved bottle and its logo, using an AI platform partially integrated by OpenAI.

The wave of AI experiments has highlighted a host of legal and logistical challenges, including the need to protect reputation and avoid misleading consumers.

A recent campaign from Virgin Voyages allowed users to create a digital avatar of Jennifer Lopez Personalized video invitations for a cruise, including the names of potential guests. But, to prevent Ms. Lopez from appearing to be using inappropriate language, the avatar can only say names from a pre-approved list, otherwise it’s singled out for terms like “friend” and “sailor.”

said Brian Yamada, chief innovation officer for VMLY&R, the agency that produced the campaign for Virgin.

Developing interactive campaigns such as Virgin’s campaigns make up a minority of the ads; Videos and photos with 30-second captions, often slightly modified to suit different demographics, are more popular. In recent months, several major tech companies, including Meta, Google, and Adobe, have announced AI tools to handle this kind of work.

Big advertising firms say technology can simplify a bloated business model. Ad group WPP is working with chip maker Nvidia on an AI platform that could, for example, easily let car companies Include screenshots of the vehicle in scenes intended for local markets without having to painstakingly shoot various commercials around the world.

For many people working in such commercials, the advancement of AI seems like impending obsolescence, especially in the face of several years of slowing growth and a shift in ad budgets from TV and other legacy media to automated ads and social platforms. Media agency GroupM predicted last month that artificial intelligence is likely to affect half of all advertising revenue by the end of 2023.

“There is no doubt that the future of creativity and artificial intelligence will be increasingly intertwined,” said Philip Krakowski, CEO of the Interpublic Group of Companies, an advertising giant.

IPG, which was hiring CIOs and similar executives years before ChatGPT came along, now hopes to use the technology to deliver highly personalized experiences.

“However, we need to apply a very high level of diligence and discipline, collaborating across industries, to mitigate bias, misinformation and security risks in order to maintain the pace of progress,” added Mr. Krakowski.

AI’s ability to copy and deceive, which has already found widespread public expression in political marketing from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and others, has annoyed many advertising executives. They are also interested in intellectual property issues and the development trend and speed of artificial intelligence. Many ad agencies have joined organizations such as the Coalition for Content And Authenticity, which wants content traced back to its origins, and the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence, which aims to keep the technology ethically sound.

Amidst the doom and gloom, this spring Wunderman Thompson’s agency decided to do away with artificial intelligence.

In an Australian campaign for Kit Kat candy bars, the agency used OpenAI text and image generation tools to intentionally create embarrassing ads with the tagline “The AI ​​made this ad so we can have a break”. in onedistorted figures on fading chocolate bars nibble over his narration text in a mechanical, monotonous tone: “Someone handed them a Kit Kat. They take a bite.”

Campaigning will be much more challenging now, said Annabelle Barnum, Wunderman Thompson’s general manager in Australia, in part because rapidly improving technology has eliminated many of the flaws that existed just a few months ago. However, she said, humans will always be key to the advertising process.

“Creativity comes from real human insight – AI will always struggle with that because it only relies on data to make decisions,” she said. “So while it can enhance the process, in the end it won’t be able to take away from anything that creators can really do because that human element is needed.”