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Ad Age


AI Reinforces That Brands Need to Empower Humankind

By Jeff Rosenblum for Ad Age

Artificial intelligence has promised to change every aspect of the advertising industry. We’ve read articles, watched videos and listened to thought leaders—but have already missed a critical takeaway: AI will also accelerate the shift in power from brands to consumers.

We should be excited about generative AI’s potential to save money and time while supercharging creativity. But we’re forgetting something even bigger: Consumers are also going to have unprecedented access to AI technologies. Every brand around the planet will face an entirely new level of transparency and scrutiny. The real implication of artificial intelligence is that brands need to get their acts together.

We can no longer use clever advertising to cover up challenges in our customers’ journeys. Consumer AI technology will use every click, engagement, rating, review, purchase and return to help shoppers invest time, attention and money as wisely as possible. Every moment of friction—complicated websites, lame creative, frustrating customer service—will feed an AI-charged algorithm that will dispense extraordinarily personalized recommendations.

Brands that understand the implications of AI focus on empowering their audience, investing in:

  • Better customer service delivered by real humans

  • Better communities to help consumers with their life journeys

  • Better content to help customers with their purchase journeys

  • Better products to help people invest their hard-earned dollars more effectively

This is not a time to deliver a mediocre experience and cover it up with AI-fueled advertising, but rather the time to build an industry-leading offering before evening thinking about advertising.

Digital kicked off the power shift from brands to consumers with search engines, ratings and reviews. The shift grew with the advent of mobile and social media. AI is the next big step and one with greater implications than anything that has come before. It’s going to accelerate every trend we’ve seen over the past 20 years, creating customers who are even more savvy, discerning and quicker to adopt and abandon brands.

AI doesn’t demand that we become louder or more disruptive; it requires us to be more strategic. It's about serving the needs of the audience. Brands need to create value for consumers by replacing friction with empowerment through content that educates, informs and inspires.

"The advertising industry has already missed the critical takeaway: AI will also accelerate the shift in power from brands to consumers."

- Jeff Rosenblum

Great marketing has always been about the 4 Ps: product, price, place, and promotion. Technology allowed brands to over-index on promotions in the form of interruptive advertising on TV and then digital. Now, technology will force brands to have a more balanced approach, increasing resources on creating better products and selling them in frictionless environments. This will open the floodgates of creativity because brands will no longer be constrained to 30-second TV ads, 15-second pre-rolls and other interruptive techniques.

The creative canvas will be unlimited as brands understand every granular step in the customer journey and focus on content that fulfills upon unmet emotional and functional needs. This is not an entirely new phenomenon, but the rate of change created by AI will be exponentially accelerated.

This industry is filled with some of the smartest and most creative people in the world. Our best and brightest aren’t scared of this revolutionary change; they are emboldened. They understand that this is not an opportunity to simply save money, increase short-term conversions or create more interruptions. It’s an opportunity to become better versions of ourselves and be more valuable to our consumers. It’s an opportunity to finally get our act together.

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