Leaders From GroupM, MediaLink and More Discuss Using AI to Better Understand and Engage Customers

The world at large and the advertising industry are on similar journeys, both seeking greater trust, transparency and ultimately truth.

But whether you’re discussing sociopolitical issues or the relationships between brands and consumers, the explosion of available data and the challenges of harnessing it for clear insights often make the truth seem further away than ever.

Part of the problem is that the truth is rarely obvious or simple. Many questions do not have a simple answer. Instead, they have pros and cons that need to be carefully considered. Consequently, a genuine understanding of your customer base relies on the ability to recognize the nuances of consumer behavior, root out biases and obtain meaning from language at the speed and scale of modern business.

This is why IBM is developing technology that helps humans derive a deeper understanding of language so they can get at the root of complex issues. Known as Project Debater, this technology absorbs large textual data sets to find and arrange relevant arguments, generating insights that can be used to make better decisions.

Marketers are leaning into these types of advanced technologies to better understand, reach and engage their customers. We sat down with industry leaders in the marketing and media space to discuss how new AI advertising solutions can help bring us closer to the truth.

Here’s what they said.

The need for change in advertising

“The entire foundation on which the internet works is going to be completely redefined.” —Tom Kershaw, CTO, Magnite

“Cookies have made us lazy. It’s a convenient way to advertise. Using cookies is a shotgun. We need to get more precise with our methodologies.” —Bob Lord, SVP, cognitive applications, blockchain and ecosystems, IBM

“We have the ability and a responsibility to shape this space right now. And we must get it right [because] the stakes have never been higher.” —Michael Kassan, chairman and CEO, MediaLink

“That conversation needs to be intimate without being intrusive. It needs to be in-the-moment relevant without feeling like stalking. And the tools that make this possible are heavily dependent on partnerships with companies that can bring real AI.” —Kirk McDonald, CEO, GroupM

Why now is the right time for AI

“We’ve seen a shift of spend moving towards automated and programmatic, and away from some of the more manual methods. And we’ve seen it across the board.” —Kershaw

The entire foundation on which the internet works is going to be completely redefined.

—Tom Kershaw, CTO, Magnite

“The Covid-19 time period actually accelerated the work we were doing.” —Beth Mach, Chief Consumer Officer, TrueCar, Inc.

“AI can root out unconscious biases so that we get a true representation of the value exchange that the brand wants to have with the consumer.” —Lord

The value AI solutions can provide marketers

“AI is so important because it lets us scale the internet. It lets even a small publisher or a regional app have access to the same intelligence, the same creativity as a super large behemoth. And that is a critical function to the way the internet works and the way society works.” —Kershaw

“We look at technology to help bolster the teams and intelligence that we already have.” —Mach

“You have to have a dependency on AI to turn the data into insights at the speed it needs to turn so you can make decisions and activate in near-real time.” —McDonald

“The great thing about AI is that it can predict and learn in real time what the audience is going to be receptive to … [so we can] create a great value exchange between the brand and consumer in ways we weren’t able to do before.” —Lord

The future of AI and advertising

“I want to make sure the consumer gets what they are expecting. They are moving fast. I really want them to have what they want.” —Mach

“We can do more together successfully through thoughtful partnerships … really making the tech work the way it should, bringing ethics and bringing partnership back together.” —McDonald

“It’s a lot easier to leverage these tools than you think. It’s taking your data and developing ways to automatically analyze that data faster and turning that into human decisions.” —Kershaw

“We talk about AI as augmenting human intelligence at IBM. It’s transparent, explainable and a real time calculation where learning is happening instantaneously.” —Lord