In his 1950 dissertation, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,”[1] WWII hero and founding father of modern computer science and artificial intelligence (AI), Alan Turing, discussed the concept of AI and proposed a test to determine whether a machine is capable of exhibiting intelligent behavior equivalent to that of a human. For example, according to what is now known as the “Turing Test,” if a machine can engage in a conversation with a human without being detected as a machine, it has demonstrated human intelligence. While self-aware AI models have yet to reach the level of prominence displayed in blockbuster films such as The Terminator or The Matrix, AI can revolutionize many industries and even change how we live and work. Regarding the advertising industry, AI will fundamentally change how companies interact with their audiences through enhanced creativity, improved data analysis, and extreme personalization. However, the increasing reliance on AI in advertising raises many concerns, such as the potential elimination of various marketing roles through AI’s ability to streamline creativity and data analytics.

With the rapid advancements in AI technology, many remarkable AI tools have emerged that are revolutionizing how businesses and individuals work and interact. Programs such as Dall-E 2, Midjourney, and Stable Diffusion can create photo-realistic images and even outlast human submissions in major art competitions.[2] AI-generated short-form content and Virtual YouTubers (VTubers), which use 3D avatars to voiceover AI-generated scripts,[3] have amassed millions of impressions.[4] Furthermore, preliminary creative assets can be executed at a fraction of the time and cost and then fine-tuned by a designer, as showcased in the world’s first AI-composed holiday advertisement[5] and Ryan Reynolds’ low-cost Mint Mobile commercial.[6] Tools such as ChatGPT, Soundraw, and Replica Studios enable the instant creation of scripts, soundtracks, and voiceovers. Additionally, early-stage text-to-video software, such as Meta’s “Make-A-Video” and Google’s “Imagen Video,” unlock the ability to produce videos across various artistic aesthetics. As AI predictive models evolve through machine learning, humans’ understanding of genuine creativity will continue to shift drastically.

As the world confront economic pressures and as marketing budgets are typically among the first slashed during a recession[7], the potential for AI to replace creative jobs like traditional copywriting is increasingly attractive to institutions. The growing popularity of AI tools and the exponential increase in daily inputs driving rapid advancement through machine learning poses a threat to many jobs within the marketing industry. AI will shoulder the responsibilities of data analysts, email marketers, customer service representatives, proofreaders, and more. Through AI automation, companies can streamline inefficiencies, such as: processing large amounts of data quickly and accurately, dispersing chatbots to respond to routine and repetitive customer requests, and replacing complicated sentences with more efficient ones. Additionally, AI does not need breaks, sick days, or vacations, allowing it to work non-stop and execute tasks 24/7. Furthermore, since AI can process information much faster than human workers and complete tasks in a fraction of the time, it allows its users to scale their businesses more quickly than with human workers. Altogether, these distinctions could make AI more attractive to companies as a replacement for human workers. Considering the widely anticipated reality that AI will be able to beat us at everything within the next forty years,[8] is our society destined to resemble a Wall-E-like dystopia where nearly all of humanity lives a thoughtless and indolent lifestyle? 

While the potential use cases for AI are incalculable, AI will certainly only overtake a portion of purpose-filling endeavors from daily life. Most AI tools require manual input and consistent human optimizations, and in its current state, AI is far from perfect. For example, AI-based chat tools tend to disregard elements of the requested prompt, showcase an inability to distinguish between outdated, current, or fake news, and have the propensity to cite facts incorrectly. Furthermore, one tool, ChatGPT, has “limited knowledge of the world and events after 2021.”[9] Concerningly, AI has the propensity to magnify inconsequential biases in the large data sets from which it learned.[10] Additionally, the public may be hesitant to engage with AI-created content, knowing that a machine exclusively generated the advertisement, which could limit its effectiveness, requiring human oversight and manipulation of the AI-based “creativity.” This could restrict AI’s potential to replace human workers in advertising entirely.

The constraints of AI tools open opportunities for human imagination to sift through inadequate outputs and construct a final product of high-quality content. For example, rather than eliminating jobs across the marketing and advertising landscape, chat-based AI tools provide the perfect starting point for potential headlines, scripts, blog posts, and creative storylines. At the same time, image and video-based AI tools can provide storyboards and quick visualizations for clients looking to generate gripping graphics. For instance, developing multiple unique variations of powerful copy factoring in the specific sale, time of year, character constraints, and advertising channel for a new product that a client wants to promote to prospective shoppers can be arduous. Additionally, as advertisers’ workloads increase in parallel to the expanding variety of promotions distributed, AI tools are a handy instrument to automate creativity. 

The AI revolution allows marketers to develop a myriad of new skills with assistance from swiftly maturing AI ecosystems. As a result, AI provides a level playing field for modern marketers (ex: minimizing the impact of a language barrier), as only those who effectively employ AI will gain an advantage over their competitors. However, Marketers who refuse to utilize AI — those who refuse to change how they work because “That’s how we have always done it” — are in imminent danger. AI might not take YOUR job, but those who utilize it more effectively than you will. Before Blockbuster’s ultimate demise, it dismissed an early investment opportunity in Netflix, thinking its business was unassailable. Failure and unwillingness to innovate have repeatedly proven to be the knockout punch for many once-successful companies and their leaders. 

While the explosion of AI-based tools has made it increasingly difficult to ignore, the refusal to adopt these impactful tools within a quick enough timeline may prove fatal to the dreams of many businesses and employees. The AI expert and co-founder of Google Brain, Andrew Ng, stated, “Artificial intelligence is the new electricity.”[11] Whether you’re a copywriter, graphic designer, or someone who writes a lot of emails, it’s crucial to incorporate AI into your daily habits before you fall behind.

Yossi Friedman, Paid Media Associate, Direct Agents

References

[1] https://redirect.cs.umbc.edu/courses/471/papers/turing.pdf

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/02/technology/ai-artificial-intelligence-artists.html

[3] https://www.ranker.com/list/most-popular-vtuber-2022/jay_kobayashi

[4] https://techcrunch.com/2022/12/30/quickvid-uses-ai-to-generate-short-form-videos-complete-with-voiceovers/

[5] https://www.rehabagency.ai/insights/hackweek-worlds-first-ai-crafted-holiday-advert

[6] https://www.fastcompany.com/90833253/ryan-reynolds-used-chatgpt-to-make-a-mint-mobile-ad-and-the-results-were-mildly-terrifying

[7] https://www.forbes.com/sites/martyswant/2021/07/18/marketing-budgets-continue-to-get-slashed-even-as-companies-look-to-cmos-for-growth/?sh=108b9a4a1a3a

[8] https://www.newscientist.com/article/2133188-ai-will-be-able-to-beat-us-at-everything-by-2060-say-experts/

[9] https://help.openai.com/en/articles/6783457-chatgpt-faq

[10] https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2018/09/redesign-dating-apps-lessen-racial-bias-study-recommends

[11] https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/andrew-ng-why-ai-new-electricity

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