The headline event of the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) United Kingdom’s annual conference is positioned around the concept “Engage.” This year, the main themes focussed on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how it is affecting the media industry, both positively and negatively.

Even as Artificial Intelligence plays a larger role in media, there needs to be a human focus.
Even as Artificial Intelligence plays a larger role in media, there needs to be a human focus.

The development of AI means we are blurring lines between machine behaviour and human behaviour, where efficiency is the only trajectory according to Tracey Follows, a futurist.

There is a hotel in Japan — the Henn-na Hotel — that offers a unique experience. It is almost completely staffed by robots, and this makes it extremely efficient. It is clear humans need surprise and an element of uncertainty to have an experience, and digital needs to be part of the living system and not just an information system.

Brands need to take note of this, understanding their communications need to take into account the human element rather than fully focusing on driving media spend efficiencies.

This feeds into creative production as well. Celtra, a company of rich media mobile creative specialists, created an experiment at the TriBeCa film awards where an AI machine was compared to a jury for judging video creatives. The experiment focused on creative features and performance metrics using machine learning. The machine learning used prediction modeling to extract more than 100 different features within video creatives.

The outcome was that the AI got the selection wrong compared to jury. The key learning from the experiment was that when it comes to great storytelling, not everything is numbers.

Marketing is about humans and not just data sets and numbers. Brands need to understand people and not just focus on data.

Finally, an inspiring talk from multiple news brands began with a controversial speaker talking about how news is already in existence and all we need is to curate this content using AI. The speaker also noted that news brands need to focus on speed efficiency and scale. The speaker was interrupted by David Walsh (the Sunday Times sport reporter), who revealed the speaker to be a fake. (See this post by INMA blogger David Murphy for more on that session.)

This highlighted the prevalence of fake news and the importance of true human journalism and storytelling. Advertisers should ensure they align their brands to true news content in the current climate, to both protect their brands and invest in publishing media.

Using AI to improve processes and make media spend more efficient is a positive development for our industry. However, we still need to apply the human filter to advertising activity to ensure brands resonate and appeal to consumer audiences.