Why your brand will soon need an artificial intelligence strategy

The Drum has assembled an enviable panel of magnificent minds from the industry and beyond to identify the latest trends and brilliant ideas shaping our space. Here’s what’s been exciting them lately…

Jonny Tooze, managing director and founder of Lab, explains how agencies can monetise artificial intelligence by creating personalised experiences.

While agencies are thinking about how we can monetise artificial intelligence (AI) and what this means for our industry, Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk are debating whether or not AI is going to kill us all. Unfortunately, the whole concept of, ‘we can just unplug it... can’t we?’ has pretty much been thrown out of the window.

Whenever a system becomes self-aware, humans will react in their normal sledge- hammer wielding way, threatening its existence. Then, if the AI has any form of purpose to fulfil, it will take control of a Darpa factory and we’re all doomed.

Actually, we don’t know what’s going to happen but we do know that it’s coming and will likely change our lives. And if there are risks to AI entering our world, why are humans pursuing this technology so hard?

Cynically, it’s just two things, money and war. The first company that creates something smarter than humans will likely be able to out- think their competitors and quickly become the clichéd Global Corp from every dystopian novel. And sadly, the first government to harness AI to make strategic military decisions will be better at killing baddies – or maybe avoiding wars in the first place through a resurgence of the mutually assured destruction doctrine.

Right now AI is a bit stupid at everything, but very good at specific things. Humans can’t beat AI at chess anymore, but you can’t ask Deep Blue whether your butt looks big in your new dress. This is changing as more sophisticated AI engines are built and processing power increases. AI can now drive cars, recognise human emotions, translate speech in real-time, hold reasonable conversations, and also vacuum your flat while you are out. It really won’t be long before we can ask Siri much more intelligent questions, like ‘I’m so drunk I can’t see, feed me now’ and she’ll be able to think through a reasonable response and just get on with ordering something you like.

In the small gap between the invention of early general artificial intelligence and the doom of evolved killer robots, the forward-thinking agencies will be desperately seeking exploitation of this space.

Personalisation is a big target. Platforms are starting to learn about us and deliver the right stuff to us at the right time, whether that’s based on our location, our financial history, preferences, habits, interactions, or now even emotions. Systems are starting to learn more about humans, and as a result we’re getting an uplift in engagement, interaction and, ultimately, conversion.

AI engines will start being plugged into campaigns in more intelligent ways over the next few years, such as interactive out of home displays and content management systems, offloading the hassle of detailed programmatic logic to systems designed to be better than humans at understanding humans. This will have a huge impact on who is successful and who is not, because these brands with be delivering a better experience.

The current levels of digital personalisation are the tip of the iceberg compared to AI-based personalisation and brands need to start thinking about AI strategies sooner rather than later. Especially the ethics.

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