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The AI stage needs strategic directors

28 Jun 2019  |  Ilona Lubojemska 
The AI stage needs strategic directors

AI has endless potential - but that makes strategy all the more important, writes The Trade Desk's Ilona Lubojemska

One of the hot topics on everyone’s lips at Cannes 2019 was the impact that AI will have on our ever-changing industry. Top figures across the board recognise that, while humans must orchestrate the creative process, AI is key to propelling creative content to the correct audiences and maximising success.

And yet for many marketers, AI remains something of an unknown quantity. That makes it tempting either to dive right in for the hell of it… or to avoid it completely. But the right tack is somewhere in the middle.

Sparkly gadgets don’t equal superiority, and at this stage you don’t want to be wasting money – and time – on uncertain results. Here are some pointers on how you can start successfully incorporating AI into your campaigns today.

The gift of AI present

Forget Doctor Who-style AI – pesky cybermen and troublesome daleks. The reality of AI is much more forgiving – and slightly less space-aged. In fact, AI as we know it has been around for some years now.

That makes it high time to start using it, rather than being intimidated by it. It’s true that the first step is the hardest – so I’d recommend you start small. The simplest AI tools assist by finding efficiencies to improve workflow, for example, whilst a quick bit of A/B testing could help you identify the best subject line for your next email campaign.

Ultimately, machines are there to ease burdens and make life a little bit easier for us humans, and if you don’t give them a try, you can’t benefit. So get using them!

Strategic and steady wins the race

Once you’ve got to grips with the basics, you’re ready to get creative with how you use AI in your wider campaigns and challenge yourself to try more complex concepts. Trial may sometimes result in error – but if you never take a calculated gamble, you’ll never win anything.

That means shifting your thinking beyond ‘more ads’ to ‘better ads’. Luckily, AI removes the guessing game, giving us a fuller picture of our audiences and thus more direction to better our campaigning. That includes the how, when, where and most importantly, how much to engage with users. That’s a game changer across all campaign stages, from strategy to tactics.

But remember – AI is a means to an end, not a tool to use for the sake of it. It’s not worth going on an AI spree without fully considering how the technology will best work for you and meet your business objectives. AI can process infinite data to churn out results – but there’s a time and a place for it. Sometimes strategy is knowing when not to act.

Unity is strength

It’s easy to get yourself in a jumble with new tech – one team alters this, another team tweaks that. Before you know it, your game-changing marketing tool is someone’s else’s responsibility… and no one is actually using it.

It’s important to approach AI – and all new tools – with a solid, unified approach. Time to end the team politics, and put together a united front to achieve real results for your business.

Whether it’s using AI to get creative with optimisation, or using API triggers to create a data narrative to lay the foundation of a campaign, a consistent approach means you won’t leave consumers baffled or bored when they switch between platforms. If your mobile targeting is weather-based, then desktop should be the same. If Facebook updates influence your Connected TV strategy, then make sure it’s the same on your audio channels.

AI has endless potential – but that makes strategy all the more important. By ensuring AI is unified across all channels and across the marketing mix, you can do a lot with a little – rather than little with a lot.

The best is yet to come

AI is no closed book – it’s very much open and there for the taking. So don’t wait for the next big technological development – put the hours in to get on top of it now, and save time and missed opportunities tomorrow.

Small steps may well be just the start of your AI journey – but solid foundations are the key to future growth. Take the first step today so you can start reaping the rewards.

Ilona Lubojemska is senior director, client services at The Trade Desk

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14 Nov 2019 

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