What the media industry really thinks about the impact of AI

Media practitioners are generally upbeat about the impact of AI on the industry

The vast majority (80%) of media practitioners view the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) as on a par with the industrial revolution in terms of the potential impact it will have on their industry.

Feelings are generally positive about the potential impact of the rise of AI with practitioners citing improved productivity and better targeting as notable advantages, but concerns over “less human control” are notable.

These were the findings of a survey of more than 1,000 media practitioners from GroupM adtech platform Xaxis and IAB Europe which quizzed multiple tiers of the industry during the months of March and April this year.

Almost a third (30%) of advertisers and publishers are not confident at all in understanding AI and how it could apply in their work, according to the survey, which also found that all respondents felt AI has a positive impact on their job with 62% believing it improves strategic decision making.

More than three-quarters of respondents believe AI innovation is the next industrial revolution. Other anticipated positive impacts of the technology, included improvements in productivity (47%) and increased competitive advantage (41%) were the forerunners when it came to identifying just how AI can impact business objectives.

However, the survey also identified concerns among respondents with some of the top anxieties over AI highlighted in the report including relying less on human control (47%) and its ability to gain trustworthy insights (55%).

“All respondents agree that the top two challenges for marketing departments in handling AI and advertising automation are centered on relying on a black box and less human control and gaining trustworthy insights into what drives business outcomes,” reads the report (see image above).

The report also went on to dispel the popular misnomer that the rise of AI means is resulting in widespread fear that it will result in large-scale job losses in the media industry (see image).

“Robots taking over jobs proved an unfounded fear,” reads the report. “Very few respondents felt AI would have a negative impact on their work. The majority, in fact, felt AI would have a positive effect on their overall employment by providing more time to make strategic decisions – reducing repetitive processes (62%).”

It goes on to read: “59% of respondents thought that AI would mean they have greater and better access to relevant data to make decisions.”

Xaxis began its early phases of working with AI as early as 2015 when it paired with AppNexus (a company its parent outfit GroupM had recently invested $25m in) to launch its Co-Pilot initiative.

This is a scheme Xaxis claimed allowed its media traders more easily manage numerous campaigns simultaneously while offering a suite of reporting tools that can help them uncover insights, plus identify trends that provide the outfit with unique opportunities.

“The industry is on the verge of a revolution, by 2020 if you don’t have artificial intelligence or machine learning in your environment or platform, and under your control, with systems you are building to buy media, then you will not even be at the table stakes,” said Karl Bunch, who was then Xaxis’ VP of global product development.

Get The Drum Newsletter

Build your marketing knowledge by choosing from daily news bulletins or a weekly special.