As recently as 10 years ago, social media advertising was a relatively unknown medium, but in 2018 it is a major part of huge, global advertising campaigns, which gives you an idea of the speed and scale at which the advertising industry is changing. With that in mind, in this article Clear Channel Direct looks into another form of technology that has, and will, impact advertising platforms: artificial intelligence.
When artificial intelligence is mentioned, you might think of robots and various other sci-fi- style inventions. However, AI doesn’t just mean robots that can walk and talk – there are plenty of less spectacular iterations of artificial intelligence that feature in our advertising industry in a more understated way.
When we’re looking for a product online, we log on to a search engine or a specific shopping site and search for what we want without a moment’s hesitation. However, in the past, we had to be very specific about what we were searching: if you wanted a large black sweatshirt, for example, you had to type in exactly that. Today, you can search a few or even just one keyword and the search technology will provide the same results you’d get if you were as specific as you could possibly be.
>See also: The evolution of artificial intelligence
A more recent development in the same theme is search technology that caters for spelling errors, too. Using the context of your search, certain spelling errors can be ‘ignored’, so to speak, and search engines can work out what it was we were actually trying to say. Accidentally searched for ‘London hoelts’ instead of ‘London hotels’? The inclusion of ‘London’ will enable the search engine to deliver results for your intended search, rather than the erroneous one.
Also referred to as ‘recommendation engines’, this type of artificial intelligence is another common tool for advertisers. On music streaming sites, we are recommended songs and artists we might like based on music we have listened to previously. For sites like Netflix, we are recommended films and shows based on not just what we watch, but what we watch over and over again, what we skip and what we search for.
This is something that happens to us every time we use such a platform. It’s very subtle, and we might take it for granted, but the technology is in place and very effective, so it shows that artificial intelligence is already firmly entrenched in the way we advertise and consume things.
“Hey Siri”, “Ok Google”, “Alexa…” – these phrases, when written down, might look a little odd to say the least. However, they’re uttered millions of times around the world – at work, at home, on the bus, in the gym – our smartphones and ‘hubs’ can recognise our voices and our words and respond to our commands in the blink of an eye. If you need to know what restaurants are nearby when you’re on holiday, you can ask your phone’s AI assistant and it will pull through a list of the highest-rated restaurants in the area.
Listening to a song and want to hear music that sounds similar to it? You can ask your Amazon Echo “play me something like…” and it will do the rest. The latter, in particular, enables you to make purchases without lifting a finger. You can order Ubers or get a pizza delivered by talking to the small, unassuming cylinder-shaped speaker in your living room.
This is currently offered by Google Lens on some of their smartphones, and it’s only a matter of time before it is introduced on a wider scale. One of the mooted innovations is image recognition or ‘machine vision’.
Theoretically, this means that we’ll be able to take a picture of something we want on our phone – a pair of trainers, a sofa or a table, for example – and our phones and computers will be able to use this image to search for that product or similar items.
We read articles in their millions every day, from opinion pieces to news articles and more. Currently, they’re mostly written by bloggers, journalists and writers, but there are also some pieces that are actually written by machines. They are written well enough, albeit with a lot of room for improvement, but for all intents and purposes may as well have been written by a person – but in fact, a computer has done it autonomously.
Artificial intelligence is becoming more and more sophisticated every day, with laboratories around the world striving to make the next major breakthrough, for both one-off showpiece creations and features that will seamlessly integrate into our everyday life. As these developments progress, the way we display and consume advertisements will change with it.