Here's a look at the generative AI Solutions in advertising and marketing offered by big tech.
It can be fair to herald the year 2023 as the year of Artificial Intelligence. While generative AI chatbots like OpenAI's ChatGPT did start the conversation about the viability of AI late last year, more fuel to the fire was added consequently this year when multiple other AI tools like Google's Bard, Meta's Lama, were made public throughout the course of 2023.
AI bots initially found their niche in creative pursuits by individuals, but businesses, particularly in the digital realm, were quick to embrace the impact of AI. It also took the world of advertising and marketing for a ride along for an year filled with new offerings developed by big tech specifically to optimise the process of marketing come around and gain prominence.
Big tech companies like Amazon, Alphabet (parent of Google), Meta (parent of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp), and Microsoft (parent company of OpenAI), introduced multiple AI technologies specifically focused on marketing. The prominence of this was also a key highlight in the earnings calls' for the third quarter of 2023 for these players. Here's a look at a few prominent AI tech offerings positioned by these companies as essential for streamlining the advertising and marketing function for brands and agencies.
In its recently announced financial report for Q3FY23, Amazon's focus on AI, mentioned 33 times in the earnings call, stood out as it capitalises on generative AI's potential.
Amazon's shares surged over 7% after reporting above-consensus earnings, driven by bullish comments on artificial intelligence (AI). CEO Andy Jassy highlighted AI as a "tens of billions" opportunity for Amazon Web Services (AWS), citing the rapid growth of the generative AI business.
One day prior to the announcement of the quarterly results on October 26, Amazon Ads introduced a new generative AI solution, called Image Generation. The tool aims to simplify the process of creating engaging ad visuals. In response to challenges faced by advertisers in building successful campaigns, Amazon found that 75% of them struggled with creating ad creatives and choosing suitable formats.
The image generation tool leverages generative AI to help advertisers produce lifestyle imagery, enhancing their ads' performance. For instance, a standard product image placed in a lifestyle context could boost click-through rates by up to 40%. The tool, currently in beta, allows advertisers to select their product and click "Generate" in the Amazon Ad Console.
The AI then generates a set of lifestyle and brand-themed images based on the product details, which can be further refined with short text prompts. The tool is user-friendly and requires no technical expertise, catering to advertisers of all sizes. Amazon Ads plans to expand the availability of image generation to more advertisers based on customer feedback, aiming to improve the advertising experience and engagement for both advertisers and customers.
“Producing engaging and differentiated creatives can increase cost and often requires introducing additional expertise into the advertising process,” Colleen Aubrey, senior vice president of Amazon Ads Products and Technology, said, adding, “At Amazon Ads, we are always thinking about ways we can reduce friction for our advertisers, provide them with tools that deliver more impact while minimising effort, and ultimately, deliver a better advertising experience for our customers.”
One of the earliest adopters of AI with the introduction and implementation of AI, Microsoft witnessed a stellar performance in the past financial quarter. Microsoft's Q3 results highlighted a successful AI strategy, with a 3% boost to the cloud business driven by strong demand for AI services, particularly in Azure.
Microsoft's collaboration with OpenAI, integrating AI into products like Bing and Microsoft 365, has contributed to quarterly sales growth. The company's capital expenditure reached $11.2 billion, its highest since 2016, with a forecasted Azure growth rate of 26-27%.
In March 2023, the company introduced a new tool targeting the enhancement of customer experience with AI-powered tools with Dynamics 365 Marketing and Customer Insights.
In Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, the natural language data discovery feature empowers marketers to access customer insights by typing queries, eliminating the need for SQL expertise. The 'Query assist' feature in Dynamics 365 Marketing streamlines audience targeting, enabling marketers to describe segments without manual processes. Microsoft's Copilot in Dynamics 365 Marketing also introduces a Content Ideas feature, leveraging next-gen AI to streamline content creation for marketers. The AI model provides an engine for generating personalised, editable content using Azure OpenAI Service.
Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, reported robust Q3 2023 earnings of $34.15 billion, a 23% YoY increase. CEO Mark Zuckerberg emphasised the success of Meta's efficiency drive, particularly in AI. AI advancements are driving product and business performance, including features in Ray-Ban smart glasses, AI-driven feed recommendations, and the Advantage+ Creative suite for advertisers.
Advantage+ creative in Meta Ads Manager optimises images and videos for enhanced audience interaction, offering various enhancements based on ad format or placements. For single-image or video formats, optimisations include standard enhancements, image brightness/contrast adjustments, music integration, 3D animation, and more. Carousel formats benefit from optimisations like profile end cards, dynamic descriptions, and highlight carousel cards.
Catalogue-based optimisations, such as Advantage+ creative for catalogue and dynamic media, tailor ad content to individual preferences. Standard enhancements, like image templates, text improvements, and relevant comments, are available, providing versatile compositional changes. These creative optimisations aim to boost ad performance while maintaining the ad's core message.
Google's Q3 report showcases its continued success in the ads business, with a substantial 11% YoY growth in the Search business, earning $44 billion. The focus on infusing AI into products, notably with the Search Generative Experience (SGE), prompts questions about its impact on the ad business. Google plans to experiment with new ad formats compatible with SGE, ensuring advertisers can reach potential customers seamlessly.
In June, Google introduced two AI-powered ad campaigns, Demand Gen and Video View, leveraging Google AI for enhanced targeting and performance. Demand Gen facilitates the integration of top-performing videos and images across key visual touchpoints like YouTube, YouTube Shorts, Discover, and Gmail, reaching over 3 billion users.
The construction flow in Google Ads allows marketers to preview assets before running campaigns. By incorporating lookalike segments, marketers can enhance their relevance and optimise for conversions or Maximise clicks bidding. Video View campaigns, spanning in-stream, in-feed, and YouTube Shorts, maximise views efficiently, outperforming in-stream skippable cost-per-view campaigns by 40%. AI-driven insights measure campaign impact with brand lift, search lift, and data-driven attribution, aiding marketers in making informed decisions. The beta versions for both campaigns are available for sign-up.
Indian marketers evaluate the current landscape of AI
Speaking about the growing importance of AI adoption for marketers, Sajal Gupta, CEO, Kiaos marketing, points out that Indian agencies are grappling with adapting to AI capabilities, highlighting the need for ongoing training. He also opines that, currently, the focus with AI is to enhance the creative aspects, but there's a gradual integration of AI expected in various marketing facets as agencies advance in AI adoption and data collection.
"When searching for an agency and delving into the creative side of the industry, the process typically demands a considerable investment of time and effort to craft compelling creatives. However, the advent of AI introduces a transformative element. AI has the capacity to significantly diminish the time and effort traditionally required for creative development. By leveraging AI capabilities, the arduous task of creating engaging content is streamlined, allowing for a more efficient and rapid generation of creative materials. This reduction in the time invested in the creative process enhances overall productivity, enabling marketers and agencies to focus on strategic aspects while AI handles the intricacies of content creation," he says.
Dr Kushal Sanghvi, head- India and SEA, says that agencies are witnessing a change in client expectations, with an increasing focus on incorporating AI into marketing strategies. He points out that major tech companies like Adobe, Microsoft, Salesforce, Google, Amazon, and Meta are playing a significant role in shaping the adoption of AI in marketing. Their investments in AI technologies and tools are influencing how agencies approach AI integration. However, in the Indian context, he believes that the use of AI in marketing is just approaching the tip of the iceberg. "Currently, we're witnessing a surface-level use of AI in marketing. It's like dipping our toes into the immense potential. The real depth of AI's impact is yet to be explored, but even at this surface level, it's reshaping how we approach creativity and efficiency in the industry," he says.
As we move towards a third-party cookie-free world, he believes that AI is expected to play a crucial role in effectively utilising first-party data for segmentation and personalisation.
This can lead to more targeted and personalised marketing strategies, especially for companies with substantial data. AI tools from major companies like IBM, Adobe, and Salesforce are contributing to a more data-driven approach to marketing. These tools are being used for reporting, analytics, and creating dashboards, enhancing the ability to measure digital return on investment. "The narrative of agencies is evolving. Creative, media, or digital capabilities – they're all gearing up for a shift towards AI. It's not just a tool; it's becoming an integral part of what agencies offer," he adds.