April 24, 2023 | By Antoinette Siu
Agencies are moving beyond the generative artificial intelligence-produced text and art. Increasingly, their business focus is on technologies and partnerships using ChatGPT and content creator strategies.
With growing interest in generative AI after the release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in November last year, agencies are now laying the groundwork for AI-based initiatives both on the enterprise and client side. While some have been testing generative art and copy applications, their efforts are moving to business use cases and computational value, said Dan Gardner, executive chairman of Code and Theory.
“We believe in AI as a business enablement tool,” Gardner said. “The real opportunity is to think long, not short, on the use of AI. This is not tech that should be viewed as a one-off campaign, but real disruption.”
Stagwell agencies have been using broader AI functions across the company and creating open-source tools in the tech community. Locaria has been using automation of multilingual content and AI for their global brands in particular. Hannes Ben, CEO of Locaria, said the agency is continuing to work with AI to “connect the dots” across audience insights, media plans, content and performance – which traditionally work in silos.
“AI is a complementary element to our existing strategy driving incremental growth,” Ben said.
Last month, Stagwell agency YML, recently folded into the Code and Theory network, developed an AI tool called Y-Chat, which is used to integrate any app with ChatGPT with less than 10 lines of code. While it is aimed at developers and not specifically built for a particular client, it will allow any company to implement ChatGPT faster for their projects. YML said it plans to add more OpenAI models and capabilities across various platforms.
Other agencies are experimenting with the OpenAI model in order to expand its advertising capabilities. PMG last week said it has already begun integrating ChatGPT to create new copywriting and campaign efficiencies for its paid search campaigns across clients. The generative AI is integrated into its proprietary tech platform Alli, which is used by teams as a sandbox for testing.
ChatGPT is plugged into Alli’s campaign management data and insights, allowing marketers to speed up campaign performance. The initial focus is on paid search campaigns. Last year, PMG also developed Alli Creative Insights to compare and test creative assets for campaign audiences using real-time data.
The platform is used to support brands across PMG’s portfolio, from generating description versions for search engines to testing a brand’s voice and positioning. This can cut down on hours typically spent refining content, but the process is still in an experimental phase, said Jason Hartley, head of search, social and shopping at PMG.
“The guidance I give our teams is to treat generative AI as a new employee with very little experience: Give clear direction, but don’t assume that the output will be what you want it to be — and give good feedback when you discover errors,” Hartley said.
HoldCos find cross-agency applications
Meanwhile, holding company Omnicom has similarly made strategic moves in several areas of AI, with CEO John Wren saying in the company’s Q4 earnings call in February that automation tools will help “eliminate” mundane agency projects. Wren added on the call the holdco is “embracing [AI] as quickly as we possibly can.”
Omnicom recently worked with Microsoft to integrate its ChatGPT model into Omni, its data and insights orchestration platform. Slavi Samardzija, CEO of Annalect Worldwide, the data and analytics arm of Omnicom that manages Omni, mentioned there are more than 25 applications being developed through this, including automating insights for strategists and planners and new ways of activating media optimization workflows.
In a dedicated Azure environment, Microsoft’s cloud platform, teams can “develop new custom trained and use-case specific models within Omni, as well as support overall automation and transformation efforts,” Samardzija said, adding that teams are evaluating confidentiality and privacy in the process.
“Privacy and business ethics have been at the center of our approach to the use of generative AI,” Samardzija said. Some of the concerns include confidentiality of client data in models, and mitigation of biases in the datasets and outcomes.
The influencer side of life
Additionally, AI is continuing to change the influencer marketing business. Last week, former CEO of Open Influence Eric Dahan launched a new firm MightyJoy to focus on full-funnel influencer marketing. The agency will combine creative and performance marketing for brands and prioritize return on ad spend using its data and content creator and brand strategies.
Dahan said the biggest impact of AI in the creator world is helping to “spot patterns” where humans cannot. The tools can be used to catalog creators and identify trends in the top performing content that would be difficult for a human. Dahan said the aim is to get away from a campaign-by-campaign approach and focus on long-term brand building.
“We are all about investing in what drives the most impact and avoiding bloat wherever we can – that means integrating AI as an integral part of our process,” Dahan said. As agencies cut down on entry-level and analytics work, Dahan sees AI capable of freeing up “brain power” for their workforces.
And as Omnicom boss Wren explained during earnings, AI will have an even more positive impact on the business, especially in jobs of the creative knowledge workers “five years from now.”