To be fair, the title of the blog is slightly misleading, as AI and other advanced native 21st century technologies are becoming more mainstream and causing significant disruptions in most of the industries, including media and advertising. Zapr has been one of the frontrunners of this change and over the last few years, we’ve worked very closely with a lot of media and advertising houses. We are able to provide some of the most advanced analytics platforms for them, on top of our core big data platform. All of this is powered through our proprietary advanced automated content recognition and machine learning systems. Today, with these offerings, our clients are able to make decisions in real time to optimize their campaigns, media plans and delivery. Our in-house advertising platform is one of the most innovative and advanced advertising platforms, building TV viewership profiles of the users in real time and making them available for advertisers to target. TV syncing, multi-screen engagement and competition profiling are not just buzzwords anymore. All of this has been happening in reality for hundreds of brands running their media campaigns with us on a daily basis.
Now let me paint a picture of how I think AI will shape up the next level of optimization for advertisers and agencies and how media houses will look to monetize their content.
Automated Media Planning
If you ask any media agency, media planning for any advertiser is the most intensive activity they have to go through. To get maximum Return On Investment (ROI), how much do you spend on print or TV or digital? Within digital, there are several different channels and ad formats such as search, display, videos, etc. How much do you allocate on web vs on mobile? Within mobile, what properties do you target? The questions go on and on and are among some of the most difficult ones to answer, given the pace at which a consumer’s attention is changing.
Doing this once a year is not going to be good enough anymore. Can this be done every quarter, every month, every day or every minute? Think about the manpower required to perform this with the current process. With advanced machine learning systems, a lot of signals can be absorbed which are beyond human comprehension. These signals or variables could be of the order of hundreds or even thousands in some cases, for multiple years of data. Given all the historical trends and access to massive data, these systems can predict future trends far more comprehensively. In almost all cases, this will beat the experience and judgments of even the most skilled humans in this field. This change would lead to massive uplift in ROIs for advertisers, finer control and the removal of manual and slow media planning.
Advertising Form Factor
Consumers across the world have significantly changed their media habits in the last 3-5 years. Unfortunately, the advertising industry largely remained in catchup mode and tried to replicate what used to work earlier. When there was a significant shift in users’ attention from offline to the digital world, the form factor of advertising largely remained the same. Out of Home (OOH) hoardings transformed into banner advertising in digital and TV ads transformed into video ads. But digital real estate is very different. The user’s purpose for using these devices is also very different. But, given the lack of innovation, the industry largely adopted what was offered to them. AI technologies such as Computer Vision, along with other advanced technologies like Blockchain and Augmented/Virtual Reality will change the face of it. Consumers will be interacting with advertisers’ assets differently. Such advertising content will be blended with the media content in a very non-intrusive manner. As a result, the measurement of effectiveness will be much beyond Click Through Rates (CTRs) or View Through Rate (VTRs).
After spending a decade in the advertising world, one thing that has always bothered me is the lack of user focus. Given a choice, users will never choose to consume any content with advertisements which exist today. Advertisements largely have acted as a sort of intrusion while users absorb content. Think about banners or videos or any other form of ads. If you forget about media agencies who currently sit at the center of it, advertising is a very direct dealing between an advertiser and the user. Advertisers, by any means, will never try to upset users through their ads. Therefore, in the future, a lot of focus would be on non-intrusive pull based advertising where the users would be asking for content where ads could be naturally pushed. Think of content or product recommendations, or more natively blended contextual advertising. In a nutshell, advertising will become more pull based rather than push based. Bits and pieces of this already exist but the entire industry would be moving in this direction.
We are at a major juncture where Artificial Intelligence technology will shape up the future of how users consume content and media players will monetize their content. We, at Zapr Media Labs, are extremely excited about this change and are working on innovating solutions to drive the next wave of media consumption.