AI-Based Automation: People, Not Computers, Connect Business Needs to Ad Strategy | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

AI-Based Automation: People, Not Computers, Connect Business Needs to Ad Strategy

By Eric Mayhew

As the adoption and experimentation of ChatGPT and other AI-enhanced tools continue to gain momentum, you can count on other players beyond OpenAI — the developer of ChatGPT — to continue to bring products in this space to market.

Digital advertisers have a unique opportunity to become vastly more efficient and strategic as AI's capabilities continue to advance — but it shouldn't be at the expense of safely rolling out these advancements. Now more than ever, it's critical for those in the digital advertising industry — and beyond — to consider how to become a fixture within this pivotal time in history in a way that is constructive — and not detrimental — to our industry and the broader global society.

There's Opportunity Hiding Under all of the Tedious Taskwork

Whether you lead an in-house ad team or run operations tech for an agency, the first step is to take stock of the tasks that are consuming critical bandwidth. You will find common themes within every agency and marketing teams struggling with inefficiencies around budgeting, labor-intensive new campaign launches — and even things as simple as remembering the time-sensitive ad content that needs to come down. These are all candidates for automation. Next, you may want to consider engaging a third-party for consultation on identifying the lowest hanging fruit. As part of this exploration, it is important to also articulate your value proposition to cement the automation choices around your differentiator as a brand or agency.

The benefits accrued could include freeing staffers to move up the cognition scale of trading in the drudgery of rote work with the inspiration of high-cognition, creative, and strategic activity. This would lead to more meaningful and productive conversations with clients as well as the ability to do a lot more A/B testing because your automation partner has allowed you to execute more campaigns than you have been traditionally able to handle.

Reporting is another area in the digital advertising world that is time-consuming. While human guidance will remain paramount, imagine if you could leave deck-building and performance reviews to automation. The arrival of AI-powered automation is akin to the day that construction crews traded in their shovels for an excavator.

The Importance of Attended versus Unattended AI

We have to stay aware of the unintended consequences of bleeding-edge technology that humans can't really wrap our heads around quite yet. Hollywood depictions of AI and robots running amok shouldn't be ignored, but at the same time it's important to remain grounded in the notion that thoughtful, deliberate governance around AI application will keep us honest and on the right track. Certainly AI, if left unattended, could lead to bad scenarios — the experts in the industry are already telling us this directly.

In a marketing context, however, making AI safe for brand marketers will depend on how methodical and meticulous we as marketing practitioners leverage the large language models (LLM) that are the lifeblood of AI applications like Chat GPT. This would be an important aspect in what good governance means. Companies need to align on intention so that the LLMs can be leveraged safely with a purpose. Those intentions may vary widely from a luxury brand to a QSR, for example. It wouldn't be brand-compliant to talk about "discounts" for luxury brands while it is naturally a part of the vernacular for QSR.

At the end of the day, it is important to remember that AI doesn't currently train itself, humans do. So, this means that we must develop and maintain vigilance delineated in a common industry standard that satisfies concerns around data security, cleanliness, and uncompromised consumer privacy.

I don't point this out because I'm sensitive to the criticism; I actually believe that the skeptics and cautionary individuals play a constructive role as it will allow our industry and society at large to anticipate and mitigate any future dangers. Imagine if we had done that when the combustion engine was invented — we probably wouldn't be in such a tough situation with global climate change.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Eric Mayhew is president, cofounder, and chief product officer at Fluency.