The future of creative is AI

Understanding the evolution of the creative process in marketing is crucial. In the past, there has been little choice but to rely on gut instinct. But as technology has developed, so has the ability to understand to a far greater degree what content will best resonate with the people at whom it’s aimed. Now, it’s instinct out and AI-led creative in.

The year is 1955. You’re sitting in a smoky office on one of the higher levels of a skyscraper in New York, with the creative director and the new client, all wearing smart suits. Something the client has just said has driven inspiration into the mind of the creative director and suddenly, he’s pitching a concept for an entire marketing campaign off the back of a simple sentence. Why? Because his instinct told him to. Will it work? Maybe. Is that good enough? It’s certainly good enough for 1955.

Fast forward to 1995. You’re in an open plan office, the sound of fax machines whirring in the background and big boxy computers littering the desks. The suits are gone, and your team are all dressed casually, rather fewer than in previous decades puffing away on cigarettes. You’re discussing the ideas for the latest client brief and the planning team have handed you some survey data that was completed by potential customers, giving you an idea of the content that might appeal to them. You use what you can from the results of this small group of people and craft something that you hope will appeal to a wider audience. Will it work? Again, maybe. Is it good enough? It’s better, but it’s no recipe for guaranteed success.

Now, it’s 2020. You’re sitting in a state-of-the-art office space. The team around you are spinning ideas off their iPads, onto large screens glued to the surrounding walls, utilising the high-speed Wi-Fi. Now, you’re being given data that has identified the passions and motivations of the client’s customers, using social data. This is shown through a series of images and text, which resonate best with a particular segment of people. It’s all dynamic information that is predictive of trends. Will it work? Definitely, because that information comes from an audience of millions of people who all share common passions and mindsets. Is it good enough? It’s the best.

Science and art

There are still many brands making decisions like it’s 1995 – or even 1955 – but relying on instinct in 2018 is not going to work. Most operate with some slight understanding provided by minimal and frankly unreliable information given in surveys or group discussions from consumers.

In a world where data is the new oil, it has a place in everything. There are those who would argue bringing big data anywhere near the creative process would ruin it – why mix art and science? But what is crucial here is understanding that data can spark the process by providing ideas and clarity around what will best appeal to the target audience.

The process explained

In essence, it works like this: by properly utilising a company’s data around their customers, you can identify those customers’ passions and motivations, and then segment them into passion groups based on this information. These segments can be based on a mix of transactional data, overlaid with social data, or, if transactional data is not available, it could just as easily be social data, gathered by matching current customers to their online profiles.

After segmenting these customers based on their passions and interests, an algorithm scrapes social sites and websites for images and text that most relate to the passions of these specific segments. This information is then collated onto a mood board as a series of pictures, copy and content that best define the traits and interests that characterise each specific audience.

Revolutionising communications

This process helps to influence and direct any kind of customer communications, making sure that you are speaking to them in a way that resonates via a relevant channel, and offering them personalised deals on specific products.

If the focus is more on acquisition then retention, you can use the social data of people in particular segments to identify look-a-like customers based on shared passions and interests with current customers already in that segment. Then the same process would follow, scraping content based on those passions to inform a marketing or advertising campaign.

In short, AI-led creative will revolutionise everything from customer communications to through-the-line marketing. It will allow brands to develop content that is guaranteed to resonate with customers because it is based accurately on their actual passions. It will bring a whole new level of personalisation to communications that has not been seen before. And it will instigate accurate prediction of trends. This is the future of creative.

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