31 March 2017

Bots in the advertising industry are doing scarily complex things already

Informatics RedHerring

Talk of robots (bots) and AI in the surgery might be new for your average GP, but in lots of other industries, the full horror of an AI inspired worker bee made largely of silicon is already ripping apart the once peaceful lives of many an unsuspecting white collar worker.

Here’s one recent example from the advertising industry that might give you some idea of the extent that the bot change train is coming for you.

Israeli tech firm Algorithms  has launched “Albert“, an artificial intelligence platform designed to make digital media buying decisions on behalf of brands. Suddenly lots of people working for media buying businesses are shaking in their boots and willing Albert to suffer some form of robot mental breakdown.

Albert enables ad agency clients to DIY media buying and skip the whole drama of negotiating with ad agencies altogether.

Algorithms’ CEO, Or Shani, said Albert was created to do the annoying little things like analysing click-through rates and therefore enabling the humans in the business to concentrate on the things that required a human touch – client liaison, creativity, long lunches, etc.

Really?

This is just CEO spin for ‘nothing to see here’, when in fact the utility of this AI inspired bot is far ranging and depending on your perspective, incredible, or horrifying.

Ring any bells? Qoctor, a telehealth startup in Australia, thinks that something akin to Albert should be doing specialist referral letters and even scipts for certain conditions.

Albert works thus – you enter things like Key performance indicators , locations you want your ad seen , desired devices you want your ads on , media channels you want to use and the type of ad creative. Using predictive algorithms and the learnings from previous campaigns, Albert’s AI builds profiles of target consumers and determines which ads, based on the data, should be shown where and when and then adjusts the decisions along the way.

Albert is designed to consolidate and micromanage everything from email marketing to native advertising, and it integrates with platforms like Google Display Network, Snapchat, Outbrain and MailChimp. That’s advertising talk for ‘lots of complex stuff we once thought you’d always need a human in there somewhere for’.

Cosabella is a major US brand already using Albert.

“It’s a part of the mindshift,” Cosabella’s Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) told US tech marketing site DMNews.com last week. “To think of him as a human. It helped us think about our AI stack, humanising it, and using its full potential.

“Implementation was super-easy. Albert ingests and optimises existing campaigns,” Connell said.

Hmmmm…..do we really need to humanise it? I mean, is that going to make us feel better about it taking our jobs?

In the first three months of using Albert, Connell said that Cosabella’s ad budget was cut by 12 per cent and the return on advertising spend (ROAS) rose by 50 per cent.

What she didn’t say was how many people likely lost their jobs at Cosabella’s media agency.

“Albert sees 1000 personas where we see three,” Cosabella’s CMO said. “We don’t give him complete creative. He mixes, matches and refreshes, based on continual, automated testing. He juggles images and copy, and tests keywords, all at scale and high speed. Albert sees the full range of possibilities.”

Including how many jobs it’s likely to take?

Scary.