29 August 2010

Automatic Advertising

As computers moved from computing to other intellectual tasks, people have wondered when computers would achieve artificial intelligence and take over tasks only humans could do, such as develop advertisements.

OK, maybe “develop advertisements” isn’t as high on the list of possibilities as writing great literature or curing cancer, but this is a blog devoted to modern marketing so please stick with me for a moment.

Automatic Advertising

Some recent news stories raise the specter of computer-generated, automatic advertising:

BETC Euro RSCG in Paris has, according to the New York Times, “developed software that can produce elementary advertisements.” It’s called CAI, for Creative Artificial Intelligence. Apparently the software requires you to answer questions such as you would consider when writing a creative brief and voila, hundreds of samples result. Industry veterans in the audience are thinking right now, “What if the brief is poorly written?” The New York Times skips over this point.

PlaceLocal, a startup that provides a similar service to local merchants seeking nearby customers, is even more automated. For example, a pizza restaurant need only provide its location, phone number, web address, et cetera, and PlaceLocal creates a simplified ad to run in local media. The program was developed by Paper G, an advertising technology company. This service strikes me as perfect for small business people who can’t hire someone to place ads for them.

It’s also perfect for local newspapers which can better monetize their web operations instead of pounding the pavement to sell ads in their print editions. That leads me to my next point.

Automatic Media

Both of these developments focus on developing an advertisement, but neither of them really addresses the best medium where the messages should be placed. Where’s the automatic media planning software? In modern marketing, finding the right place to invest the media budget is a much more interesting question than in the past. Back in the days of Ye Olde Marketing we had just a few vehicles to consider.

Today there are many choices. To be sure, there is software to help you navigate the options – Compose, for example. It’s not a substitute for decision-making, though. You use the technology to help you analyze, and then you decide based on everything you know. Similarly, after creating ads with Euro’s CAI software, someone probably decides which ad is the best (or if the brief needs to be rewritten).

Automatic for the People

Crowdsourcing is a phenomenon combining both technology and humanity. Many of you have seen or read about the various crowdsourcing experiments for Mountain Dew under the banner of their DEWmocracy project. Many of these projects sought consumer input in developing the right creative, but a recent experiment sought specific input as to what media vehicles are right for the brand. That’s worth watching.

It’s always important to determine what the right creative message looks like, but part of that determination process is writing a channel plan. A copywriter can hardly write the best print ad if she thinks she’s writing a TV commercial.

1 comment:

  1. In my opinion, automated advertisement can work but there's also those who confuse automated ads with automated spam. There's a fine line that marketers today walk and a lot of marketers have condemned the notion of automating anything.