How AI is Making Ads More Personal

By Colin Barnard | 23 Apr 2019

Colin Barnard, Commercial Director at Criteo, ANZ tells us why brands need to get serious about AI or risk getting left behind.

There’s no denying that Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly becoming a larger part of our everyday lives, with companions like Google Home, Siri and Alexa now commonplace in the home, office and everywhere in-between…But there are also many applications that have embedded AI technologies that most people aren’t knowingly aware of, such as Google searches, pricing on Uber, fraud alerts from your bank and movie recommendations on Netflix.

These innovations are not only impacting the day to day lives of consumers, but also have a major impact on business applications such as digital advertising. Through the power of AI and data analytics, ads are able to decipher multiple information points to build increasingly personalised experiences that can be leveraged in-real time. By harnessing these tactics within their digital advertising strategies, brands are able to get the right products in front of the right consumers at the moment they are most likely to buy.

AI innovation is accelerating at a rapid pace, driven by major technology companies that have been at war for AI talent and continue to invest billions in R&D to be at the top of the AI game. In the meantime, there are many smaller companies and startups that vying for a piece of the AI pie. The digital advertising industry has been swift and agile in capitalising on innovative AI solutions and are now reaping the benefits; with both improvements afforded to the marketer as well as the end user experience.

To understand why AI has had such a positive impact, it’s important to look at some of the fundamentals of the technology. This technology enables quick learning and sophisticated pattern recognition. When used in digital advertising, AI produces hyper relevant ads that are much more influential on consumer decisions, ultimately leading to increased ROI.

Because an AI platform teaches itself as it processes more data, such as online shopping behaviour and even offline point-of-sale data, marketers no longer have to worry about having the right data, or if they’re using it to its full potential. AI provides a granular understanding of eachuser and can predict what the user wants next.

Even though AI ads are highly automated, marketers still need to be part of the picture. Take self-serve check outs for example. Even though they’re widespread, there are still retail assistants on hand to answer people’s questions, if the computers stop working, age authorisation and so on.

So, with AI ads, here are some factors to keep in mind:

  1. AI Benefits Advertisers and Consumers

When it comes to traditional ad technology, the focus is mostly on reach, conversion and customer acquisition costs rather than the consumer itself. In light of this, is it any wonder that ads can be disruptive and perhaps harmful to a brand?

AI provides the opportunity for marketers to get a deeper understanding of their consumer and serve hyper-relevant ads that consumers actually want to interact with. At the end of the day, not only is the consumer getting ads that actually interest them, but marketers are receiving the engagement that they are aiming for because of it.

  1. AI is Only as Good as Your Data

The old saying: ‘garbage in, garbage out’ can definitely be applied here. To make this technology work, the appropriate partners and staff must be involved to get the most out of the data. Data scientists are necessary to sift out low quality data while also monitoring and adjusting models as needed, for the most accurate predictions possible.

  1. Context

While personalised ads offer products that are most likely to interest users, AI ads are about context. This is a critical distinction. The reason is that the data collected along the customer journey can be messy and ambiguous. Why did a person click a button or leave an app?

Data analytics may not provide the answers to these questions, but AI does. The algorithms can find patterns that may be surprising or unintuitive — leading to insights that can move-the-needle with your ad spend.

  1. Bottom Line

Each year the tech industry continues to see the rise of new technologies that change the way businesses interact with their consumers. While some technologies fizzle out, many continue to be implemented across companies, both big and small. While AI is in its early stages, it has already significantly changed the digital advertising industry. For those brands that are looking to stand out from their competition, it’s time to get serious about AI.

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