What’s The State Of AI In Advertising Today? 17 Experts Share Their Insights

Advertising has become ubiquitous in our daily routines. Whether you’re reading an article on your phone, taking in the news on television, listening to your favorite podcast, or are just out and about, you’re going to come into contact with ads of some sort. What role is artificial intelligence and other technology playing in those ads that are part and parcel of your media consumption?

These industry insiders lent us their perspectives on the state of AI in advertising. Here’s what they said:

1. P.K. Kannan, Dean’s Chair in Marketing Science in the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland

“The term Artificial Intelligence is rather broad. It encompasses expert systems of the 1980’s the neural nets of ’80s and 90’s and machine learning of the 21st century and more recently Deep Learning, Natural Language Processing and Text Analysis.

In today’s advertising industry, AI in the form of machine learning is widely used. In advertising, the major objectives include: (1) identifying the right segment, right group or the right person to advertise to; (2) coming up with the right message (content), at the right time to the right person to communicate to (3) efficiently allocating marketing dollars across the different advertising channels so that the overall campaign is optimized. Machine learning models are used to identify the right groups across various platforms (across websites online and mobile sites), personalize content communicated to the different groups, and coming up with optimal allocation of budget across various advertising channels. Many consultants provide such services so that firms can automate many of these functions using algorithms.”

2. Herve Utheza, Head of Media, Advertising & Network Operators at  HERE Technologies

AI today is a theme being discussed in advertising, as marketers recognize that data infuses every service experience, and any optimization of their campaign strategies.

But, we are a long way away from AI being applied everywhere, coherently and efficiently.

Publishers lead the pack, with — of course — Google, Facebook and Snapchat leading the way in sophisticated AIAI is both applied to their back-end algorithms (segmentation, attribution) and front-end experiences (such as moving to image-based recognition and positioning in support of Augmented Reality).

AI is also a new field of computing which will, like every technology novelty, evolve as it becomes clearer and clearer that it covers (perhaps too) much.”

3. Laura Luckman Kelber, Vice President of Marketing at Flexera

“AI technologies can track searches and target the consumer within minutes of searching for related products, freeing up an employee’s time to focus on more strategic or creative tasks.

The ad industry will leverage AI insights to help create more hyper-targeted ads. We will go beyond chatbots and start seeing more natural language processing to understand buyer personas and improve our connections to our buyer. Computer vision will help us better organize and tag our multimedia for smarter retargeting. AI will also help us gain a stronger understanding of what our brand and customer profile data means.

But looking at the bigger picture, AI will enable marketing to be more of a creator of time and space. Strengthened by technologies such as voice recognition, marketing, and user experience design will increasingly coalesce.”

4. R.J. Talyor, founder and CEO of  Pattern89

“AI strategy is becoming a standard for advertisers right now. According to eMarketer, 80% of marketers who aren’t yet using AI, say they plan to within the next year. For those who are already using AI, early adopters are reaping the benefits of its data analysis and statistically significant insights to better connect with their audiences.”

5. Steven Rothberg, founder of Job Search Site College Recruiter

“Artificial intelligence is in its infancy when it comes to its use in advertising, but its importance is rapidly growing. Already, the biggest advertising platforms rely heavily on AI, including Google, Facebook, and Amazon. But almost none of the other sites use any kind of AI at all, or they claim to use AI but it really isn’t.”

6. Peter Bordes, CEO of Kubient

“There are various sectors in which AI is being applied. The largest sectors include: Fraud Prevention, Yield Optimization, and Bid Augmentation.

Most of the industry uses primitive machine learning models, instead of using the layered structure of algorithms which mimic the functioning of a human brain. Artificial Neural Networks (ANN) are designed through a biologically inspired neural network architecture consisting of several connected nodes(neurons) which communicate their knowledge and collaboratively takes the decisions.

These models are far more capable of learning and modeling nonlinear and complex relationships which are generally what we see in real-world scenarios, today.”

7. Laura Mingail, SXSW Advisory Board Member in Advertising & Brand Experience

“AI is already powering many advertising tools. The most common way AI is being leveraged is through ad optimization. But the most exciting uses of AI have been able to take advantage of the rapidly-evolving abilities of what can be done with augmented reality (AR).

AR needs AI to work. AI is needed to understand what is happening in the real world in order to augment it in a realistic way. This can include the ability to identify and ‘map’ a face or whole person, through to the ability to identify walls, objects and even landmarks in an environment.

Gucci uses AR so consumers can try on their Ace Sneakers using their smartphone app. Nike uses AR to allow users to find their right show size. Ikea lets users place virtual furniture into their homes before buying (and assembling) it. Sephora lets users try on makeup options without even having to go to the store. Snapchat is starting to roll-out visual search on their app – with a simple tap and hold, the app can identify products in consumers’ environments, and direct consumers to purchase on Amazon.”

8. Stephen Swift, Creative Technologist at Allen & Gerritsen

“Every team at your agency can get a leg up from AI right now. While analytics can leverage AI to analyze user data; creative teams might iterate over variations on a tagline with help from an AI tool.

But you probably aren’t. These are all new technologies, and as such, taking advantage of them requires advocacy, patience, and a little elbow grease. In a few years it will likely be dirt-simple and uncontroversial to spin up a little AI widget to perform a pass on the document you’re working on; right now, you’re probably just reading about it happening elsewhere.”

9. Mahi de Silva, co-founder and CEO of Amplify

“Conversational AI has emerged as a powerful new tool for marketers, and it is now coming to digital advertising in the form of conversational ads.”

10. Kevin Groome, founder of CampaignDrive

“Artificial intelligence has made its first impact in the areas of programmatic advertising buys, starting first with media planning, then with media buying and optimization/measurement. There are some AI tools that are now being applied to the production of audience-specific creative messaging, but these are still more like proofs of concept than fully-scaled implementations.”


11. Brandon Gains, Vice President of Marketing at MonetizeMore

“I’ll speak to this from the publisher & yield management side. AI is one of the more exciting departments at major digital publishing companies. There’s always been a large amount of data to work with in this industry, but the thing that makes AI so exciting is that it gives Data Science teams the ability to act on that insight. They can design machine learning recommendations that make adjustments in real-time and have a major impact on a publisher’s ad revenue & user experience.”

12. Matthew Fanelli, Senior Vice President of Digital at MNI Targeted Media

AI is something that is still shrouded in doubt and uncertainty. Most advertisers and marketers understand the power and potential of AI, but they aren’t sure where to begin and what to do with it. However, the adoption rate of integrating AI into plans and infrastructure is happening. There isn’t a business or organization that can’t benefit from AI in some way. As technology strides happen faster and improvements become consistent, AI will continue to permeate our everyday lives and marketers will harness its power.”

13. Humphrey Ho, Managing Director, North America, Hylink Digital Solutions

“AI in the advertising industry today is largely limited to machine learning on user profiles and the ability to parse large data streams from multiple data management platforms. True artificial intelligence, from planning to buying and optimizing, is still relatively rules-based, machine-learning-based constructs. Heavily manual.”

14. Michael Harrison, Managing Partner at Winterberry Group

“While we are relatively early on in the maturity curve of AI, the democratization of AI has allowed it to permeate throughout advertising and marketing. Winterberry Group’s research shows that marketers continue to invest in AI/ML (Machine Learning). Historically AI was constrained due to computing power, but cloud computing has eliminated those constraints. AI has allowed marketers to begin shifting from focusing on execution to concentrate on strategy.”

15. Ciprian Borodescu, CEO at MorphL.io

“AI has numerous use cases that enable companies to accelerate their revenue growth and enhance cost savings in sectors such as asset management, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, retail, transportation, utilities, and media.

When it comes to AdTech, AI supports a wide range of popular applications: from chatbots to consumer/market segmentation, sentiment analysis, or user search intent.

In terms of adoption, AdTech is one of the industries that’s most receptive to AI. The State of AI 2019: Divergence report notes that 3 in 10 retailers use AI for consumer segmentation and 1/3 of media companies use AI for sentiment analysis.”

16. Tod Loofbourrow, Chairman and CEO  of ViralGains

“We’re in the second inning of a nine-inning ballgame on the use of AI in advertising. Artificial intelligence (AI) is a powerful set of technologies for finding patterns in data. With the rapid growth in addressable, measurable advertising through digital, advertisers and agencies are awash in data. AI is increasingly used to find patterns in that data, to inform bidding pricing, drive predictive analytics, and help marketers more reliably move buyers on a path towards purchase.”

17. Luke Taylor, Founder & COO of TrafficGuard

“AI in digital advertising has been pioneered by adtech giants Google, Amazon, Facebook, eBay. With access to incomprehensible volumes of data, they have been using AI to optimize their advertising offerings for years and continue to lead the way in its application – with natural language processing (NLP) of Siri, Alexa and Google obvious examples. Until recently, leveraging these platforms was really the only feasible way for advertisers to benefit from AI.

AI has introduced a new level of effectiveness and speed to digital advertising – Using large volumes of data to inform split-second optimization decisions around targeting, media buying, content and copy creation and personalization.

The number of ways to activate AI is growing. Where it was once the purview of those tech giants with resources to operate their own infrastructure and create their own frameworks, the emergence of a greater number of commercial applications has democratized access to AI technology somewhat. Scalable cloud infrastructure makes operations more economical and products like GCP and AWS, reduce the technical resources required to a degree.”

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