September 12th 2016

A.I. in Advertising and Beyond.

Posted by Will Shadbolt

When someone says people are losing jobs to robots or automated machines, most envision menial jobs rather than something creative. But technology might be nearing the point where A.I. can fill these creative roles, too.

When the first “A.I. creative director” was unveiled last March by McCann Japan, it seemed more of a gimmick than anything else. The technology, called AI-CD ß, was programmed by a team of millennials. They deconstructed a number of ads, including award winners from the past ten years, and from that made a database the “creative director” could use to analyze and identify factors that are most effective for certain products. Many of the ideas it spits out are interpreted and put into practice by a team of humans. Since the announcement, however, artificial intelligence in advertising has worked past this gimmicky stigma and proven itself to be a viable model for the future.

One big example of this was this year’s Cannes Festival. Some A.I. projects even came away with prizes. One, entitled “The Next Rembrandt,” won two Grand Prix at the festival in the Cyber and Creative Data categories. To showcase a bank’s dedication to innovation, a computer program was taught to paint like Rembrandt by a team that gave it nearly 170,000 fragments of paintings by the master. While it might not sound as impressive as the “creative director,” this was still an involved process and the end result—a smart artificial intelligence—was similar.

AlphaGo, developed by Google DeepMind in London, is another example of a program which attempted to teach an A.I. intuition. It also won a Grand Prix at Cannes, this one for Innovation. Although A.I.s have been able to play chess well since the 60s, they have not gotten the hang of the Asian game of go. The problem is that while playing chess, the maximum amount of moves each turn is 20, allowing the program to calculate all possible moves and determine which is the best; go, on the other hand, has 200 possible moves, and the math involved to pick the best one would take far too long. Google DeepMind analyzed the moves of a go game by two masters and tried to teach a program how to choose certain moves without having to process all possible ones.

But, while these features are nice, neither are truly creativity nor intuition. To test creativity in A.I.s, McCann Japan organized a contest between a human creative director and AI-CD ß. The two were competing to see who could create a more effective ad for breath mints, as voted on by online users. The ad made by a person had a woman take a mint, breathe in serenely, and then paint calligraphy. The A.I.’s involved a lonely and depressed dog-man who becomes upbeat after taking a mint, starts to fly, and exhales green sparks of freshness. The human won in the end, but it was close: 54%-46%. Of course, before you start worshipping our robot overlords, consider that online votes are susceptible to brigades and that it’s possible techies voted for the A.I. Also, although AI-CD ß analyzed the data, it was up to the creative team—human team—to interpret and produce the actual ad. So while A.I. might one day be running ad agencies, it seems that for the foreseeable future they will be relegated to analysis roles.

In the mean time, if you want incredible, creative ads, come to Giovatto Advertising. Our human creative staff fine-tunes each ad so that its fusion of art and copy encapsulates your brand’s ideals and motivates possible consumers to purchase your products. Don’t wait for possible future technology. Contact Giovatto Advertising today.

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