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IBM iX vice president on using AI to augment the human, overcome brand safety and prevent media buying wastage

Matt Candy on using AI to augment the human, overcome brand safety and prevent media buying wastage

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are fast becoming widely understood by consumers. This can be seen at IBM with its latest involvement with Wimbledon and platforms, Watson and Ask Fred.

Matt Candy, vice president and European leader at IBM iX, says that there is opportunity to use AI to augment the human and put data and insight straight into their hands that would be otherwise unreachable.

Candy is a judge for the DADI Awards 2017 and a new category for this event is Best Use of AI/Machine Learning. Talking to The Drum he expresses how he believes AI/machine learning can be of used to help prevent wastage of media buying, how it can be used to alleviate some of the worry behind brand safety and what he thinks will make a good entry for the DADIs.

Why do you think the AI/machine learning area of the industry has taken off?

If you look at the space of artificial intelligence, it's nothing new. It's been around for years in academia and other places. I think we're getting to the point where it is hitting mainstream in business. I believe we are hitting a point where organisations cannot deal with the volumes of data that they have, both internally and externally. And the volumes of dark data (video data, social data), huge volumes of data are not structured.

I think the rise of AI and machine learning, it's very much around the world we are living in at the moment with these huge volumes of dark data. Huge volumes of data that we can draw insight from and needing systems that can teach and learn, they can understand, they can read. We see at of that in IBM in Watson.

What role do you think AI/machine learning can play in digital media?

I think it applies to every industry, every bit of how an organisation works and every bit of how a customer interfaces with an organisation. There is opportunity to use AI to augment the human, ie to put data and insights in their hands and to make them better at the job that they do. For doctors, putting intelligence in their hands, they can't possibly read all the volumes of medical history and patient case histories, to help them make better decisions.

In the media space, there is Wimbledon for instance. IBM do all the technology at Wimbledon and have done for 28 years. There were two things we launched there this year, one of which was a chat bot called Ask Fred. This was where people could interact with the bot in their natural language to find out where to go for food, the bathroom etcetera. So, it was a natural interface chat bot to aid them and improve their experience while at Wimbledon.

The other thing that we did at Wimbledon this year was use our AI platform, Watson to create highlight videos. Wimbledon are pushing out short highlight videos of matches each day and we use Watson to analyse those videos of the matches. Watson would consume the entire video and look at, for example, peaks of fan noise, gestures the players have given on video, in order to create an excitement index. It uses this to generate a highlight video from the footage of a four-hour match. You can see the impact that will have on traditional content editing, in terms of the time it would save.

How do you think AI/ machine learning can help overcome brand safety?

When you look at AI platforms and the technology that is available out there, the ability to train those systems to understand and take in big volumes of data, to understand ads and the content of them and the placement of them etc, and then to have people train that in order to understand what good looks like and what should be where, I think it gives the opportunity to help improve the outcomes.

So, if that is an area of worry for consumers and the industry, I do believe that the technology is there to help alleviate some of that worry. If it is used in the right way and trained in the right way. It can only be positive.

Do you think AI/machine learning can be of use to help prevent wastage of media buying?

If you look at how that technology can help to understand media what has been bought, the effectiveness of that media and when you think about programmatic buying etc, then I believe that the opportunity and application to apply AI technology to help augment the human expertise can help improve and optimise outcomes. It's next in the technology cycles.

Therefore, there is other technology, like AI that will help further improve the optimisation of those decisions that people are making.

As a judge for the DADI Awards 2017, what are you expecting from the entries?

I am expecting to be dazzled and wowed. I'm also excited to see what the best of the industry is doing. I hoping to see work that has a real impact on outcomes and work that uses the technology in innovative ways to deliver outcomes.

So how technology and data, the insights that you can gather around consumer behaviour is really making those outcomes even more powerful.

I will also be looking for work that also has great insights behind it. The research, the data that lead to the insight, that lead to the idea, that lead to the outcome.

At the 2016 DADI Awards, you were named Individual of the Year. How was winning something like that an advantage in the industry?

It was a huge honour and very humbling to be recognised as such and helpful for me personally, as well as helpful for our brand and what we are driving and doing at IBM. The recognition that it brings for the team here as well and some of the work we do with clients. To be recognised in such a way is more of a reflection on the team and the work they do for our clients as much as it is on me.

It has given me the opportunity and a platform to engage more in the industry and in helping move the industry agenda forward.

Candy is a judge for the DADI Awards 2017. The extended deadline is on Friday 4 August, so apply now for your chance to be recognised for all the hard work you or your company have done in digital over the past year.

Not sure what category to enter? Contact for more information.

The DADIs are brought to you in association with UKFast and are sponsored by: Shazam, Forrest Brown and Impact Radius.