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Agencies hope AI helps with content transparency, anticipation and commerce in 2024

This editorial series examines industry trends across the media, media buying and marketing sectors as 2023 closes and the new year begins. 

If there’s one thing people might be tired of hearing about this year, it’s artificial intelligence.

And yet, generative AI will continue to impact the advertising industry in many ways, from content development to . As agency and AI experts explain, the technology’s growing prevalence means it will impact more corners of marketing in 2024 — from content transparency and a tighter regulatory landscape to consumer trends and social media commerce.

“[AI] will expand beyond media optimization and data compilation,” said Rob Davis, CMO and president of Novus media agency, “[like] applying generative AI to consumer research and insight generation.”

Regulatory outlook in 2024

As more content made with generative AI spreads, it has led to brand safety,  transparency issues. Rick Zhuang, CTO of video commerce platform Firework, explained there’s been more demand for chatbots and other AI-produced and personalized content. Some of this can pose certain brand risks — so data governance and regulation compliance will become crucial, Zhang added.

“Take digital human chatbots… they can engage with users in line with a brand’s personality, communication style and messaging tone,” Zhang said. “[The] platforms that balance cutting-edge experiences with unwavering data protection will lead the industry in 2024.”

As more marketers turn to AI for rapid content generation, James Peiser, chief legal officer at marketing tech company Bynder, also noted that  in October that set new standards and privacy strategies on the technology may spur companies to create labels on AI content for unsuspecting consumers.

The intent from the government and businesses is clear: protect people from “potential fraud and deception via AI,” Peiser said. “As AI becomes even more accessible, consumers are becoming more aware of its presence and more skeptical about whether content that they consume is created by a human being or not.”

Tagging AI-generated content can help increase brand trust if it becomes the norm (which at this early stage of AI’s development is not a given). Marketers could get a headstart by implementing those internal processes to mark their content, Peiser added.

Consumer prediction and anticipation

AI has expanded the way agencies focus on consumer insights and targeting with more personalized content. As Novus’ Davis mentioned, generative AI allows for the development of simulated groups that can serve as large focus groups for “cost-effective prediction of how real consumers will likely react to various marketing activities.”

It’s ultimately far cheaper than having to survey thousands of consumers or conducting focus groups. “[AI] is able to extrapolate likely responses based on analyzing tens of thousands or millions of past reactions of actual people,” Davis said. “Insights into the impact of selecting a new media channel or a new messaging campaign, could at least theoretically be gleaned in seconds versus weeks or months.”

Chad Engelgau, CEO of Acxiom, also expects predictive personalization to improve with the use of AI – especially using it to anticipate people’s needs before they “even express them,” he explained. “This is where brand loyalty is built.”

Engelgau stressed the importance of having a solid data foundation right now by ensuring that data is accessible and compliant. “Choose an area of your business to lean into more precise personalization, like loyalty, and test and learn,” he said.

Dan Gardner, CEO of Code and Theory, also predicts anticipation will replace personalization. Targeting is “looking backward to look forward,” Gardner explained, “but that’s not personal.”

In the next shift toward anticipation, AI will be able to help agencies and marketers to look at “forward-leading indicators” to anticipate people’s future needs before they ask for it, he added. This means someone could be booking travel, but right now the web doesn’t know who the person is — AI could change that.

“There is no knowledge that I have three kids and that my kids would like a cookie when we arrive at a hotel,” Gardner said. “My wife and I would like a glass of wine. That’s anticipation, and customer excellence that exists in the physical world. AI is going to get us there digitally.”

Social commerce growth

As social media shopping continues to grow, Lily Rotter, head of marketing at Firework, believes AI content will lead to more personalized commerce experiences across platforms. Retail has evolved and brands must embrace the “hyper-omnichannel, personalized campaigns that they can only accomplish through unified data practices and the evolution of adaptive AI,” Rotter said.

Additionally, more AI-generated content will shape consumers’ shopping experiences on social apps. While the industry saw user-generated and influencer content grow in recent years, AI-produced content will appear in personalized product recommendations or even interactive shopping guides, added Jerry Luk, cofounder and president at Firework.

“[This content will] offer real-time customization that not only adds value, but also brings a new layer of engagement and authenticity to the shopping experience,” Luk said.