It has been exciting, and fascinating, to watch as the advertising industry evolves in the face widespread innovation. The biggest, and probably the most hotly debated, change in recent years has been the rise in programmatic ads, which caused a seismic shift in the way brands connect with audiences.
But the fragmentation of the media industry – thanks to the advent of online giants like Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube – means that reaching consumers with meaningful, engaging content is becoming harder than ever. How can advertisers know which consumers are online, and where? And at what time? And what content they actually want to see from the brand?
Our own research found that 62% of marketers say the digital media landscape has become too complex, and as audiences segment further brands will find it tougher to reach the right consumers, at the right time and with the right message.
The always-connected world does have its benefits though. The amount of data continues to grow, and harnessing this insight – through the use of artificial intelligence – offers a significant opportunity for brands to not only target relevant audiences, but also inspire creative teams to deliver content that resonates with consumers. AI is the key to turning information into insight, and insight into relevant and engaging advertising content.
Data will lead to insight. And insight will ensure ads are placed accurately
When talking about data and AI, we must first take a step back. A step into the world of advertising a decade ago where so-called ‘traditional platforms’ i.e. magazines, print newspapers and radio were the best way to connect with wider audiences. Nowadays, all these platforms have moved online; and it is unsurprising that Warc’s latest ad figures showed that internet advertising spend increased by 11% in the first quarter of 2018.
The reason for this increase in spend comes down to data. Online platforms give marketers access to valuable, addressable and measurable data, which they can use to build a deeper understanding of their audience. But the bump in the road comes when – all too often – brands focus on the ‘what’ and not the ‘why’. And this is where AI becomes an invaluable tool. It gives marketers the ability to ask deeper and more insightful questions of the data. For example, why is that particular online platform the best place for my ad? Why is that the best time for improving consumer engagement? Why am I targeting this specific audience in the first place?
AI isn’t an option, but the only option
AI declutters the oceans of data and helps marketers to uncover patterns of information easily, to build a better picture of their audience. To put it another way, AI acts like a recommendation engine – giving brands the information they need to connect with people on a personal level.
By delivering an intelligent level of detail, one that cannot be replicated by humans, it can determine exactly when to deliver an ad, what platform to use and which ad is best to reach the audience. Say a consumer is looking for a hotel. AI can determine how many rooms they need, the price range they’d prefer, how many people need the room and then serve an ad at the most opportune moment. An AI-led approach eliminates guesswork and, in an industry that is overly saturated, will see that advertising campaigns truly resonate with audiences.
AI is no longer in infancy – it is becoming the leading technology, not just in advertising, but across a huge number of industries. Alongside human intelligence, it can transform data and turn it from simple information streams to knowledge discovery. This should then be fed into every single step of the campaign: planning, research and execution, along with strategies that help the company transform and grow, not just as a brand but a business.