With half of all marketing budgets expected to be allocated to online channels by 2020, we have more data at our fingertips to power decision-making than ever before. CMOs have had to re-invent themselves and become technologists, and there is increased scrutiny on how digital media budget is spent and how audiences are being targeted. Yet, on the other side of the marketing equation, crafting creative is done entirely based on “gut feel,” lacking the quantitative confidence to support our human intuition.
Executives would never tolerate this in other areas of the business, such as finance, sales or supply chain; and the majority of CMOs acknowledge that they’re not confident in their creative’s ability to drive results. But why shouldn’t the creative department run like any other part of the business, with decisions rooted in data? Why can’t we add accountability to the creative process?
The answer is that it’s hard to believe machines can help us be creative. Advertising campaigns, when done well, can often stir our souls like art (think about Michel Gondry’s “Shot on an iPhone” short for Apple, or H&M’s holiday spot directed by Wes Anderson). These types of campaigns give the impression that creative sits outside of the realm of data-driven logic.
The good news is that we can have it all. Creativity is definitely still a human domain to a certain extent, but recent advances in technology like artificial intelligence are also empowering marketers to use data to drive creative development in completely new ways. Machine learning algorithms are yielding predictive insights about copy choices and advertising design that make marketing creative significantly more effective and enable brands to develop personalized campaign stories at scale.
I’m certainly not talking about robots replacing copywriters and taking over creative teams at agencies. Instead, I mean leveraging AI and existing data sets to generate, test and analyze campaigns for digital, direct response marketing. Rather than simply using human intuition to try to move an audience, marketers can now support their gut feeling with data. This not only increases the effectiveness and reach of their creative work, but also gives them the freedom and resources to focus on the big-picture brand ideas and strategies that only human creativity can power. More Cannes Lions for everyone.
And for the final skeptics, I can guarantee that AI-generated creative does not sound like a robot. My team at Persado, for instance, recently implemented the breakthrough concepts of Narrative Intelligence across our AI-powered platform to help brands create consistent, personalized interactions at every touch point throughout the customer journey. Algorithms like this are inspiring the right type of action from consumers while opening the door to a level of one-to-one storytelling not possible before.
In this age of brand marketing, consumers want to build meaningful personal connections with the companies they engage with and ultimately buy from. As more parts of the business venture into the unfamiliar territory of AI in hopes of unlocking value, it is time for creative teams to also leverage this technology to speak to humans on a one-to-one level.
As counterintuitive as it sounds, AI could be the bridge between having a brand voice and giving your brand soul.