The question is now overdue. Let’s get into a frank discussion about how Generative AI should intersect with the creative process going forward.
From graphic designers to screenwriters, a lot of creative professionals are railing against the growing use of Generative AI tools.
For good reason. They believe their livelihood is at risk, of course. But they also fear that we’re entering a realm where “new” content will be harvested and remixed from existing content (which is how AI works, really) — crushing original thinking and true creativity in the process.
Neither needs to be the case. (More on that in a moment.)
Let’ get one thing out of the way first: For marketers who feel like they’re falling behind the times with AI and itching to start leveraging the technology’s potential — well, you’re already doing it. The major hype around AI is less than a year old, but AI and machine learning have been powering advertising behind the scenes for years.
A recent piece in Vox explains:
“The two biggest digital advertising platforms, Google and Meta, have long used AI technologies to develop the automated software that determines the price they charge for an ad, who they show the ad to, [etc.] … and apps like TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube all build AI into the underlying algorithms that decide what content you see.”
So, rest assured, as long as you have a robust digital marketing strategy in place, you’re not behind the curve on AI.
But, what about Generative AI? How should you — or your marketing team, agency, etc. — be using it? Where is the ideal intersection between technology and creativity? Should we be looking to the former to replace the latter … and what are the implications if we do?
AI as a replacement for creative professionals feels short-sighted and capricious, for two major reasons:
FIRST: When you scrape other people’s creative work from the internet — which is where AI sources data — you can open your company up to copyright infringement and the lawsuits that would follow.
SECOND: Relinquishing creative work to technology would result in a loss of control over how your brand is represented in the real world. You don’t want a technology, however “intelligent,” trying to sort the nuances of human experience and interpretation (lest you risk an AI accidentally creating and launching, on behalf of your brand, a disaster like Audi’s “Chinese Wedding” or Huggies’ “The Dad Test”).
The smart view, it would seem, is to regard AI as a transformative tool, not a solution in itself. Social media expert Andrew Hutchinson suggested that “the best way to utilize the capacity of generative AI [is] not as a replacement, but as a complement to existing processes, which can give you more options and considerations to weigh.”
Indeed. For advertising and marketing professionals, AI allows for a creative process that can instantly be tested against massive amounts of data. Which means, we may be entering an era that delivers the most effective blend of art and science we’ve ever seen.
“Okay, great,” you may be thinking. “But what’s the best way to leverage AI technologies? Like, specifically?”
Let’s start with two key tools, both newly released:
1. PERFORMANCE MAX (GOOGLE)
Performance Max is a new goal-based campaign type in limited rollout by Google. It’s intended to complement keyword-based Search campaigns. Leveraging your keywords, along with other targeting that you can plug in, the platform’s AI can help you drive ideal performance across multiple channels including YouTube, Display and Search.
How does it work? Basically, you create and upload a variety of ad messaging to the platform — copy, images, videos, etc. — into what are called “asset groups.” Then, the platform leverages data galore to predict which combinations of ad assets will perform best on which channels. You, the creative lead, can then peruse Performance Max’s suggestions, select which ads should be used, make any tweaks you like, then launch your targeted campaigns.
Pretty cool stuff. Now, having experimented with Performance Max, it appears to be built primarily for e-commerce purposes — which may limit its usefulness for B2B brands. But that’s today. Stay tuned.
2. AI SANDBOX (META)
On the social side, Meta is building a wealth of new tools to help refine its AI options — including new generation tools for ad creative. Still in beta, Meta’s new project, AI Sandbox, gives digital advertisers three new tools, which work in conjunction, that may change the social-creative game:
> Text Variation: With this tool, you simply load in your original ad copy and the AI generates multiple variations of ad text, based on a wealth of predictive data, giving you more options to choose from to maximize performance with certain audiences.
> Background Generation: This tool “reads” your text inputs and creates background images accordingly (not unlike DALL-E). Since AI “thinks” differently than the human mind, you may get results that are surprising; they may or may not be useful, but, hey, having options is a good thing.
> Image Outcropping: This tool automatically adjusts creative assets to fit different aspect ratios across multiple surfaces, like Stories or Reels. This type of production work can be a real drain on designers; a tool like this could save loads of time and aggravation.
With these three tools, writers and designers can start with their own creative and elaborate from there. You still maintain creative and brand control, but now have a wealth of predictive data informing the process. Again, the perfect blend of art and science.
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There is no replacement for the human brain. It’s the most breathtaking and mysterious technology of all. (Psychology is a field still in its infancy. And neuroscience is just beginning to reveal operational aspects of the brain that are flabbergasting.)
So, let’s not be too quick to replace creative professionals with their robot overloads. 😊 Just because you license Quickbooks doesn’t mean you don’t need great accountants. The latter is simply more effective when using the former.
For the last 15 years, data has grown and converged to rocket marketers on an evolutionary leap forward. With the emergence of Generative AI, we now have the fuel and the rocket all in one. Give it to your creatives … and let them pilot you into the future.
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