The impact of AI on paid media

London, 5. July 2023

Ben Pearton our head of activation explores the true impact of AI on paid media and the limitations of its benefits.

Tools like ChatGPT are currently causing concern for folks working in media because of the fear that it will essentially make some disciplines completely redundant. This is, in fact, a symptom of a wider question that has haunted the industry for some time. The thought seemed curious and a little poorly defined a few years ago. You could (for example) theoretically see how Google Ads might eventually get to the point where large budgets with detailed objectives could be managed almost single-handedly. The rise of universal app campaigns was an early sign of this, with later additions such as Performance max and responsive search ads continuing the trend.

What was much harder to imagine, was that in a couple of years we would have technology rapidly developing that challenges the idea you need creative production, data engineering or project management time at all to manage these end-to-end campaign activations. These are (were?) prized teams, invaluable to the best media teams working on the biggest campaigns.

My view on this, is that media teams reside between 3 separate levels of maturity when it comes to AI.

Mostly, they are stuck somewhere between the primitive and educated levels. Ad platforms themselves are a simple way that teams have been able to take that first step away from complete non-automation through simple AI tasks being performed to audit accounts and performance. Being unable to progress much further can be because they are forced into it by clients who themselves have not evolved yet, fear the costs, or simply don’t know how to progress in some areas. What does this mean for future positions in or around media teams?

Perhaps there could be a new type of department on the horizon to try and move teams away from the primitive level of task organisation and completion. These ‘AI Teams’ would specialise in prompts for AI tools, integration of the software’s APIs into projects involving data, and focus on how to utilise the software through a deep understanding of client and internal needs.

The other obvious area that AI is going to rapidly develop is ad space itself. Microsoft has recently revealed that it plans to give users opportunities to place ads into its Bing AI chatbot, creating a new space for media teams to consider when planning activations. This is not surprising, and potentially a highly lucrative new channel by itself depending on how these ads are targeted. Bing recently crossed the threshold of 100 million daily active users which has been at least partially attributed to the growth of its AI capabilities.

Media teams are right in the middle of understanding what AI means for them. Whilst opportunities will undoubtedly arise from the software becoming more established and understood, so will the threat of some expertise become automated to the point at which it no longer requires extensive human resourcing. A great opportunity from a business perspective, but maybe not so great for some employees.

AI tools – The new dotcom bubble?

If you have ever looked at a ‘top 10 uses for ChatGPT’ post on Instagram, you will know that this condemns you to a never-ending barrage of similar posts that reveal just how many AI tools there are out there. This has the distinct air of the heady crypto days where a new coin was launched every day trying to get in on the action. As some of us realised then (and many more do today) this was mostly hot air. Could AI tools be in a similar moment today?

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