Generative AI

AI-Powered Digital Advertising is Exciting, But Is It New?

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This month’s launch of Google Bard and OpenAI’s GPT-4 have gotten people talking. Throughout the adtech industry, generative AI is being discussed as the future of advertising, with analysts predicting that as much as 90% of digital ad campaigns could be influenced by AI in the coming years. While the integration of generative AI into virtually every modern marketing and advertising platform is exciting, it’s not exactly surprising. Despite the hype surrounding AI and its influence on the digital advertising industry at large, AI has been used in adtech for years. 

According to Curt Larson, chief product officer at Sharethrough, a global ad exchange that works with major brands like AT&T, BMW, and CafeMedia, the adtech industry has years of experience harnessing AI as a tool to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of digital ad campaigns. Sharethrough is one of a number of omnichannel ad exchanges already using technology that leverages deep learning algorithms to help automate work processes. The company has been offering this capability since at least 2021.

While the use of AI in digital advertising isn’t new, Larson does say that recent developments like the launch of GPT-4 could be crucial to the continued success of top adtech providers going forward.

Larson credits AI with having the ability to ingest “endless amounts of data points” to determine when and how much to bid at a level of sophistication — based on audience, device, time of day, domain or app, context, performance, and many other factors — in a way that would be nearly possible for humans to replicate on their own. He says AI is also great at “controlling traffic” of publishers and their tech partners to maximize yield, by dynamically determining the best way to generate demand for each impression. AI can even optimize creatives to better suit consumers’ interests and preferences, or the device and context where an ad will run.

“As advertising demands increase, AI can do the mundane tasks that can take up a large chunk of cognitive load and time, enabling advertisers to work more efficiently and effectively to focus on things humans are best at, like being creative,” Larson says. “Advertisers today can take a “set it and forget it” approach to campaigns. Once running, AI analyzes the data in real-time and adjusts maximized performance based on certain parameters set by the advertiser to yield the highest ROI possible.”

In the coming months, Larson expects to see even more advertisers using AI to save time by generating potential ideas, headlines, drafts, and marketing templates.

“Ask ChatGPT to come up with 10 headline ideas about AI in digital advertising, and the advertiser can pick which they prefer and make some human edits if need be,” Larson says. “AI is saving advertisers’ time by automating the optimization process in real-time, or by generating new ad creatives using existing assets.”

The average consumer sees AI as a “means to an end,” explains Larson, which means they’re indifferent to how the content is delivered or who made it, just as long as it’s relevant or entertaining. 

Although marketers and advertisers have been quicker to embrace AI and see its true potential, Larson says there is still some concern that the use of sophisticated technology systems may lead to potential job losses down the road. That could make some marketers more hesitant to integrate AI into their own practices and systems. However, Larson also says those marketers with concerns are in the minority. The majority of marketing and advertising professionals have embraced AI, and many are coming up with unique ways to utilize the technology, from ad personalization to chatbots for support.

“AI can bridge the connection between consumers and advertisers with little effort from both sides,” Larson says. “The ones that can adapt to utilizing AI are going to survive in the long run, whereas those that are hesitant might have greater difficulty in keeping up. AI is only going to improve from here and will raise the bar of expectations in terms of creative quality and campaign optimization for marketers today.”

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.