While AI (artificial intelligence) might conjure up thoughts of machines dominating the world, when it comes to the creative industries, the reality is quite different. No, you’re not being phased out in favour of designing or copywriting robots – if anything, AI will probably make your life and daily processes more straightforward. But in order for AI to be successful within marketing agencies and creative teams, it’s essential for individuals to be open minded and optimistic about its potential and implementation within creative workflows.
It’s no wonder people are sceptical and even scared of AI – even its definition is kind of spooky. Artificial intelligence is ‘the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision making, and translation between languages.’ Earlier this year, Facebook were forced to abandon an AI experiment after two artificially intelligent chatbots began talking to each other in a secret language that only they understood.
As weird and off-putting as that might sound, Facebook weren’t scared. They only dropped the project because they wanted the AIs to talk to people rather than each other. But no matter how you feel about two chatbots developing indecipherable code-speak (or AI robots gaining citizenship in Saudi Arabia – we’re looking at you, Sophia), it hasn’t stopped tech firms and agencies from using AI to bolster their content output and boost their engagement statistics.
Using AI to inform creative and marketing processes
As any marketer or creative knows, the key to success lies within their ability to stay ahead of the curve and embrace new technology and trends as quickly as possible. If there’s tech out there that can put you ahead of the competition while streamlining your day to day processes, adopting it sooner rather than later will have a tangible effect on business. In that vein, agencies throughout the world are looking for ways to implement AI that could help support human creative processes – whether that’s by automating repetitive tasks, filtering and managing data, handling complex data analytics, providing predictive marketing functions, or simply freeing up more resources so creatives can focus on content generation.
Marketing agencies need to be able to respond flexibly to data patterns, while designers and copywriters rely on said information to aid their creative decision making. But in order to do this, all parties require insights into what works and what doesn’t, and how audiences are reacting to their existing content output.
An analytics-focussed AI that drives predictive marketing should help teams identify their successes and failures, improve targeting and provide a clearer route to desired results. That means your team won’t have to spend so much time worrying about data and statistics, and can instead focus on creating effective content and achieving the highest possible conversion rates. Some AIs are even intelligent enough to recommend potential directions for a campaign based on tried and tested results, and AI chatbots can be used on webpages to interact directly with customers to gather marketing information in real time.
Advertising and creative agency Saatchi & Saatchi LA used an AI to run a number of campaigns earlier this year. Back in January, they teamed up with Toyota and launched a Facebook campaign using the AI ‘IBM Watson’ to help social media users find unique activities to try. Having provided Watson with 1000 distinctive interests to filter through, the AI targeted adverts at people depending on the interests they had in common with each other. In one example, Watson matched individuals who shared an interest in both barbecue and martial arts, before giving them adverts for an activity called ‘taikwan tenderizer’. Saatchi & Saatchi LA were pleased with the results, and were happy to have have access to deeper insights. They’ve even given this type of advertising a name – ‘flexible storytelling’, where certain parts of adverts can be altered depending on data findings.
Using AI for content creation
With the advent of driverless cars, chatbots, and everything from automated call centres to automated operating theatres, experts have been pretty concerned about the impact automisation will have on the workforce. But there’s one job that experts aren’t so worried about – content creation.
Artificial intelligence already forms the part of the backbone of creative software we use every single day. Adobe Sensei is an essential part of Creative Cloud, pulling together trillions of content and data assets within a unified AI or ‘machine learning framework’ to provide advanced image matching functionality, deeper understanding of the meaning and sentiment of documents and fine-tuned targeting of key audience segments. But it doesn’t stop there. It’s also capable of fleshing out incomplete photos, identifying objects and faces, transforming paper into digital documents, enabling complex image searches and much more.
Taking it one step further, some companies have even made the leap to employing AIs to write articles. Developments in things like natural language processing, machine learning and image recognition have allowed scientists to develop the writing skills of AIs to a point where they’re indistinguishable from something produced by a human. And as lots of marketing content available online shares similar messaging, tone and style, it’s easy for a machine to replicate existing content without any noticeable flaws.
AI has even been used to create film and music. Grammy award-winning music producer Alex Da Kid used Watson to help guide the production process of his debut solo single Not Easy. When it came to lyrical, emotional and rhythmic inspiration for the song, Watson took five years’ of Billboard hits, plus other pieces of pop culture information to help create something that appealed specifically to the emotional state of the listener.
Similarly, in 2016, 20th Century FOX teamed up with IBM to produce an AI-created movie trailer for the horror film Morgan. IBM and FOX also used Watson, and tasked the AI with analysing visuals and sounds from hundreds of horror film trailers to get an idea of how they were composed and pieced together. From there, Watson chose scenes for editors to patch together into a trailer. Ultimately, the entire creative process for the trailer took just one day, when it would usually take weeks.
It makes sense that intelligent machines can handle data, analyse statistics, provide basic communication functions over the internet and carry out administrative duties (thus giving creative teams more time to be creative), but there aren’t many people who believe artificial intelligence could feasibly replace humans when it comes to creativity. Surely all creative work, whether written or designed, comes from years of experience, trial and error and the recognition of complex patterns only made possible by a living human brain?
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