Look no further than recent events to see how our industry has rallied, with brands doing more of doing good
Technology has been a powerful instrument for driving much of this positive and meaningful change
As the advertising industry is in the midst of a total transformation with tech at the center of this evolution, let’s take a minute and recognize the opportunity we have here
Let’s continue to rally. To lead with our core human values. To use the same AI tech that’s helping to rebuild our society to also rebuild our industry.
Yes, our industry is undergoing a complete transformation.
Yes, it happens to line up to when we are all facing daily uncertainties in our society: When will I be able to get a vaccine? When can I gather maskless with my friends and family? Am I going to be able to bring my team back together in person this year? How do we talk about the very personal and important topics like equality and unrest that’s on all of our minds over video?
So, yes, it’s understandable that it feels a little off to focus on ad targeting amidst all this.
Actions speak louder than words
When the pandemic was first being felt, I remember sitting in a meeting where literally every person only wanted to talk about what they/we could do to help – as individuals and as a company.
Our leadership challenged us to see how our [Watson AI] tech could make an impact. Less than 30 days later, our engineers and data scientists had leveraged Watson to extract and analyze virus, geo and health system data to create a COVID Informational Hub across The Weather Channel properties reaching over 400 million people worldwide.
Fast forward just a month or so and the country was yet again confronting racial equality disparities.
So the Ad Council used the same AI tech in its award-winning “Love Has No Labels” campaign – a movement to promote acceptance and inclusion of all people across race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age and ability.
By using AI to predict the right creative elements and messages to display, the campaign improved performance including site conversation – but also, and arguably more importantly, generated insights about what messages and tones could move people to act.
Here we are again at a new phase of the pandemic and The Ad Council is at it again, along with a record number of the most influential brands, doubling down on AI to help drive their global initiative to combat vaccine hesitancy – one of the largest public health outreach efforts of our time.
With a third of the US population questioning whether to be vaccinated, education is sorely needed. The creative must be personal. It must be dynamic. It must speak to the diverse universe. It must resonate. Not to drive dollars, but to drive survival.
A future rooted in core human values
Sure, I think it’s pretty amazing that IBM’s Watson AI is at the heart of brands doing good, better. But mostly, I just like that as brands, we’re all doing more of doing good.
I’m hopeful that we keep the investment in the best of us and our brands coming as our society moves forward. That the commitment so many brands are making to put their values on full display increases. And that we apply that same inner calling to do the right thing to how we approach our industry’s transformation.
Imagine the future we can build. I like that version for the rest of 2021 and beyond. A marketing and media industry that applies its core human values to the next era of advertising, and a marketing and media industry that markets what it believes in addition to what it has to sell.
Randi Stipes is the Chief Marketing Officer of IBM Watson Advertising, The Weather Company and Developer Marketing, a position she has held since 2018, focused on both the B2C and B2B aspects of the portfolio. In her role, she takes an agile, data-driven approach to deliver measurable results for consumers and clients across The Weather Company, Watson Media and Watson Advertising.