Skip to main content

How Brands Are Using AI and What They’re Not Willing to Hand Over Just Yet

Artificial intelligence can do some very interesting things for ad optimization and marketing. When Albert, an AI-powered optimization platform for digital marketing, came to market in August 2016, a lot of advertising agencies were running scared.

After all, AI can learn faster and process far more data than lowly humans ever could. Ad agencies seemed to think AI could very well put them out of business.

However, fresh research from Albert shows that many ad agencies are starting to come around. AI, it turns out, is more friend than foe.

“Both brands and agencies are moving into phases where AI use is standard,” according to the new report, “AI Adoption in Marketing: Brand and Agency Survey 2018.” Considering that these technologies are still so new, the adoption cycle appears to be progressing quickly.

To be clear, brands are still more heavily in favor of AI than are ad agencies. But agencies appreciate that AI can take some of the heavy lifting off of their plates.

Even as both agencies and brands are finding lots to love in AI platforms, they’re using and appreciating the systems for different purposes.

While brands overwhelmingly (83 percent) turn to AI to get more out of their marketing investments, agencies were more likely (33 percent) to say they were doing so because of “creative fatigue.” Agencies’ biggest insight after using an AI platform was uncovering previously unknown audiences (58 percent), which they consider a significant value-add for their brand-side clients, according to the report.

When it comes to rating AI’s performance benefits, ad agencies felt more strongly than brands about every aspect, from reducing costs and hitting benchmarks to increasing return on ad spending (ROAS) and lifting sales. Asked about efficiency gains, agencies most appreciated that their effects were less siloed and more cohesive, and that they’re able to focus more of their time and efforts on creative and strategy, which was brands’ top choice as well.

Related Stories

Agencies also gave high marks for how AI helps to improve cross-channel media buying and big management, which led for brands, too, though at a somewhat lower sentiment.

Not everyone is prepared to hand everything over to a machine, however. Both brands and agencies don’t trust AI for everything and prefer to maintain control over some aspects of their responsibilities. What don’t they want to give up? For brands, it’s digital campaign data analysis (59 percent). And agencies (33 percent) think they can do a better job themselves at audience segmentation.

“These marketers are not yet ready to surrender the aha! moments that come from data analysis (despite the hours of labor required to find them),” the report noted. “Agencies’ difficulty of letting go of audience segmentation might be due to having become accustomed to the difficult task of pairing the right promotions with what they perceive to be the right audiences.”