Put your head in the sand and someone will kick you up the behind – it’s a law of nature that several in the creative agency community are about to rediscover. AI, the power behind machine learning, cannot be ignored. It is right here, right now – and will be a godsend to clients and agencies rather than a threat.
Life is moving at speed. Clients can’t keep up with their consumers and nor can their agencies. Intelligent automation is the only way we can keep up with the proliferation of channels, platforms and consumer trends. Look at recent phenomena like Pokémon Go; it’s been in and out of the public consciousness in a nano-second, although it has left a legacy in its marriage of geo-location and augmented reality.
"It’s up to us as creative agencies to step up and become faster, more precise and more bespoke in the help we give brands, so clients can get their messages to the right people at the right time"
We will see more of this. The things that capture everyone’s imagination will emerge at speed, blaze across the sky and then disappear. There is no way a CMO, marketing director or brand manager will have the time or resources to be able to grab onto the soaring tail of such cultural comets. They are struggling to cope with the pace of digital change and are charged with both taking more responsibility for revenue generation and delivering superlative consumer experiences and memorable moments.
It’s up to us as creative agencies to step up and become faster, more precise and more bespoke in the help we give brands, so clients can get their messages to the right people at the right time. If we can deliver, then we will be seen as a genuine partner rather than a necessary evil. Any marketer worth their salt will demand a hard and fast KPI for their brand these days and I want to be responsible for a brand and its growth – that’s where AI can help us.
It’s why Atomic is the creative agency partner for Blackwood Seven’s business proposition, which uses predictive analytics and AI to devise the optimal online and offline media plan for a campaign.
For me, the benefit of AI lies in being able to give our ideas the best possible chance of delivering business results for clients thanks to a media planning and customisation tool that absolutely makes those ideas land in the right place at the right time for the right person. It’s like a turbo charger on a car. Without it, creative is like a brilliantly-engineered engine with poor acceleration.
Without this sort of tool, no matter how good your ideas are, they'll never be as effective as you hope they should be because the media plan won't be as smart as it should be. Critically you aren't creating the right mix of assets for a campaign to make it fly! The thought that their brilliant ideas are not reaching their full potential should create shudders among creative agencies.
Working with AI also delivers a healthy by-product of micro-insight and learning in real time that can be used to help refine creative and ensure the ideas work even better. Continual testing, improvement and iteration are the processes we applaud in the tech brands, ride hailing apps and accommodation-booking platforms we love but we are loath to apply these working frameworks in our own world.
It isn’t about the tail wagging the dog or any other territorial pissings. Without AI tools agencies will actually become more akin to neutered dogs because their brilliant ideas won't work and they will be more squeezed into making cheaper ideas for too many ineffectual channels.
Nothing is broken. We are not disbanding or re-engineering departments or building from scratch but now it’s about sparking up ideas for relevant creativity – I relish the challenge.
Nick Fox is a founding partner at Atomic London