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Did Bot Create That Ad? Increasingly Yes…

In late 2021, as states eased pandemic restrictions and consumers began flying again, travel search company Kayak needed a note that would make it stick out against bigger rivals.

Most travel ads centered on the household reunion space, soft piano music, the get-together on the beach, said Matthew Clarke, vice president of UNITED STATES marketing for the Booking Holdings Inc. company. Kayak took another approach with the Kayak Deniers campaign, which went reside in January and poked fun at the rise of online conspiracy theories. In a single ad, an angry mother insists to her family that Kayak isnt real, screaming, Open your eyes!

Inspiration for the ads originated from an unlikely source: artificial intelligence.

Kayak caused NY advertising agency Supernatural Development LLC, whose internal AI platform combines marketers answers to questions about their business with consumer data drawn from social media marketing and general market trends to suggest campaign strategies, then automatically generates ideas to promote copy along with other marketing materials.

Supernaturals AI discovered that Kayak should target its campaign largely toward young, upper-income men, who it said would react to humor about Americans inability to acknowledge basic facts in politics and pop culture, said Michael Barrett, co-founder and chief strategy officer at Supernatural.


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That gave us adequate license to zig where in fact the category was zagging also to become more relevant, more provocative, Mr. Clarke said of the AI findings.

The campaign has been among Kayaks most successful up to now in driving brand favorability, Mr. Clarke said.

Marketers have primarily used AI in an innovative capacity in services like creative automation, which tests a large number of slight variations on elements such as for example ad copy and color schemes to find out which combinations will best attract consumers attention.

But AI is likely to change marketing practices drastically in coming years because of new tools like OpenAI Inc.s automated language generator GPT-3, that allows algorithms to raised understand different languages and produce original text content, said Tom Davenport, distinguished professor of it and management at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., who co-wrote a 2019 paper about them.

Unilever PLCs Dollar Shave Club recently began dealing with AI firm Addition Technologies Inc., whose platform can analyze an incredible number of social-media posts, to greatly help identify themes for used in marketing products that range between razors to wet wipes.

Its like having a machine hive mind that you could just keep asking questions since it has completely consumed all comments about them, said Matt Orser, vice president and head of creative at Dollar Shave Club.

Addition also caused ad agency Droga5 LLC to generate an interactive ad campaign for the NY Times that turns headlines from each subscribers reading history right into a visual portrait of this person. Some headlines were too much time to fit well within the portraits design, so Addition programmed its platform to rewrite them in less than 50 characters, said a Times spokesman.

AIs primary benefit for marketers is its capability to quickly complete projects, such as for example brand strategy briefs, that could take humans days or weeks, giving staffers additional time to spotlight other work, said Supernatural Chief Creative Officer Paul Caiozzo.

When Signal Messenger LLC, maker of encrypted messaging app Signal, wished to plan its first major advertising campaign in 2021, it considered AI marketing consulting firm DumDum LLC.

DumDum invites marketers to go over their most pressing challenges in brief thinkathon sessions, then runs those ideas via an AI platform that matches them with potential solutions predicated on an evergrowing pool of behavioral data and consumer surveys conducted by DumDum to supply CMOs with outside perspectives.

DumDum presented Signal with several options, and executives chose one which focused on the truth that Signal, unlike a great many other digital platforms, doesnt collect user data. They bought several Instagram ads made to highlight how its parent, Meta Platforms Inc., targets users making use of their own private data, said Jun Harada, head of growth and communication at Signal. One post began, You have this ad because youre an avowed public accountant within an open relationship.

Facebook responded by shutting down Signals ad account, in accordance with Mr. Harada. The move came only days after Apple Inc. announced sweeping data-privacy changes that could upend the digital advertising industry.

When used correctly, AI forces marketers to take into account new perspectives and prevent simply repeating approaches that worked during the past, said DumDum founder Nathan Phillips.

It is possible to develop a dance between human and computer that changes how you think, Mr. Phillips said.

The thought of AI as an innovative partner isnt new, but most campaigns have positioned it as a gimmick.

In 2018, Toyota Motor Corp.s Lexus released what it called the worlds first advert to be scripted entirely by AI. However, a Lexus spokeswoman described that effort as a one-off, also it still needed a human director.

Increased usage of AI may potentially eliminate some entry-level marketing jobs, nonetheless it won’t replace individuals required to make sure that content is fit for public consumption also to prevent controversies such as for example Microsoft Corp.s anti-Semitic chat bot, said Mr. Davenport, the Babson College professor.

Ad industry leaders agreed that AI will supplement, not supplant, human ingenuity. While [AI] can unlock the creative capacity of individuals by making their work better and effective, sometimes we have to throw logic out the window and fall back on our intuition, said Rob Reilly, global chief creative officer at ad giant WPP PLC.

More creative firms will start using AI tools in the coming years, but most won’t position themselves as AI-driven businesses, because CMOs arent particularly worried about the process so long as the resulting campaigns are successful, said Mr. Caiozzo of Supernatural.

AI is merely the tool that’s freeing me to accomplish my job, he said. A lot of people dont care the way you bake the bread.

Write to Patrick Coffee at patrick.coffee@wsj.com

Corrections & Amplifications

Within an interactive ad campaign for the brand new York Times, where headlines from each subscribers reading history were converted into a visual portrait of this person, a few of the headlines were too much time to fit well within the look, so artificial intelligence rewrote them in less than 50 characters. A youthful version of the article incorrectly said most headlines were too much time to match. (Corrected on Aug. 10)

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