MediaVillage.org's Jack Myers set the stage for a captivating discussion on the societal and marketing implications of AI and the Metaverse. The overarching message of the esteemed panel was "seek balance." There are real rewards and there are equally real risks. Agencies and marketers should tread cautiously, but tread nonetheless, as the upside is too opportune to be frozen by fears. To view the entire conversation, grab your glass of rosé and click here.
Against the breathtaking backdrop of the shimmering Mediterranean and clear blue skies, Myers presided over the opening panel at the FQ's Equality Lounge at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Joining Myers was Sophie Kelly, Senior Vice President North America Whiskeys Portfolio for Diageo; Avery Akkineni, President of Vayner3; Solange Claudio, President of FKA, and Shirli Zelcer, Global Head of Analytics and Technology for Merkle, Inc.
Acknowledging that AI will dominate most panels during Cannes, the participants set a high bar for the others. Myers kicked things off by addressing the top concerns that have surfaced from both technologists and the most prestigious AI founders warning that, left unregulated and unchecked, AI could be an extinction-level concern, on par with global warming and nuclear proliferation.
Claudio pointed out that fear is a constant whenever a radical new technology is launched. However, Zelcer noted that machine learning is far from new. What is new is the incredibly user-friendly face on the AI tools driving hyper-adoption. The result, said Zelcer, is that "wherever consumer attention goes, marketers are right behind -- making everyone care a hell of a lot about how it will impact marketing. While there are great opportunities, there are tremendous legal risks."
Turning to a concern about the data that drives AI, the panel reiterated the need for human eyes and a well-thought-out protocol to minimize bias. "The challenge of bias has been around as long as we've been targeting consumers," Claudio said. "It actually becomes more important for us to be involved in how to think about how and what AI models learn. What pieces make it more relevant? How can we take out the bias and put a conscious mind to how we apply AI?"
"I don't think regulation is going to keep up with this," added Zelcer. "We're going to try, but it's our responsibility as users of this AI to ensure that we are regulating ourselves."
One of the challenges for corporations that are testing the ability to replace core corporate competencies with AI is that, well, AI lies. Often. This is a well-known issue referred to in the AI vernacular as "hallucination," of which there are many, many examples. Akkineni described how she recently queried a model on what the five biggest brand snafus were in 2023. The output included examples from future months -- August 2023, for example -- which "clearly has not happened yet," she said. Putting AI in control or even in heavy influence of media plans or client marketing strategy without due diligence could be catastrophic, certainly at this stage.
One of the main benefits of generative AI is the sheer speed at which it can return results and content. Claudio voiced optimism that AI can help tackle a universal frustration for agencies: scope creep. "It's not uncommon for clients to ask us for more for less," she said. "AI is finally putting us in a position where we can achieve that. The creative guidance remains, but we can now scale that brilliance across the board in a way that can now meet the media plans."
Illustrating an example of how it all can come together, Diageo's Kelly relayed a recent campaign for Johnnie Walker Label Ghost, which was a project done in conjunction with Akkineni's Vayner3. "We worked with Avery and her team to release some of our rare collectibles, partnering with creator Ivona Tau," Kelly explained. "Tau worked with AI to create fantastic art based on those collectibles. We briefed her on where the distilleries were from and the actual liquid composition of the product. She used AI to create artwork which we turned into NFTs that were sold alongside the product and released on BlockBar as an experience beyond the bottle. As marketers, if we lean in and work with the creators working with AI tech, we can create unbelievable experiences at pace and talk to a completely new consumer base."
Akkineni sees the simplicity of AI as a true positive for new entrants to the industry or more senior staff that seek upskilling. "AI is not going to take away your job," she said. "A marketer who understands AI will." She encouraged even those without artistic skills to try AI apps like MidJourney or Bing Create. "I think this is going to allow a whole new set of agency folks to lean into a new set of skills that may not be natural to them," she added.
Zelcer said that a new category of employment to review for truth, accuracy and bias in AI will be necessary, adding jobs.
Myers ended the panel noting that unlike past technological innovations, where the focus had been mainly on content distribution, the AI revolution, which has reinterpreted Moore's Law and is moving "at the speed of light," is all about the disruption of and opportunities for creators and their creations.
To view the entire conversation, grab your glass of rosé and click here.
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The opinions expressed here are the author's views and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaVillage.com/MyersBizNet.