AI – Dawn or Fall of Advertising Agencies?

AI scaled

It is 9am on the 2nd of January 2025 as (let´s call him) Steve enters the building of the KI agency he´s working on. After greeting the people that are already in the office, he grabs a cup of coffee and a bottle of water and heads over to his desk. Tammy (his desk-neighbore) is already there with her queeecky voice “Goooood morning Stevieeeee!! Happy new year!! Hope, the hangover from the new years’ party wasn´t that bad.” Steve replies “Hi Tammy, happy new year to you too. Wasn´t that bad. Hope you had some relaxing days too…so let´s start slowly for today…shall we? What on our ToDo List for today?”

“Oh nothing too much…we have to:

  • Develop 3 All-Year-On campaigns for that new car brand with around 50 different motives for out-of-home creatives and the clients like to have around 250 Google Ad Copies (before lunch break)
  • We should deliver 10 articles for the major ad magazines about multiple topics by the end of the day because Tyler likes to read them before he sends them out
  • And we should do at least 2 of the 4 TVCs for this new

….but that´s it. Do you see?…. An easy start to the year. Let´s go grab some coffee!”

Steve nods, that’s not that much. Overtime prevented for the first day. Good. While Tammy already is heading to the coffee machine Steve powers up his computer, starts his Dall-e 3.0, Chatgpt 1.16, and Movie-KI quickly paste the client briefings and some other info into the description field…hits ENTER…and heads to the coffee machine as well to chat with Tammy about his New Years Party. When he returns the first results are already on his screen. He submits the preview links to the clients and they are happy with the first drafts and give them a “go”.
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Nice little Sci-Fi Advertising story? Isn´t it? Except for the fact that it doesn´t sound that sci-fi. In the past 6 months 3 majors buzzwords hyped around the advertising sphere:

  • Strategy Consultancy
  • Metaverse
  • AI

But none of those three is currently so fixed within the scene and pops up with new news by the week than the AI topic. I have the feeling that every week a new AI appears that creates stuff out of nothing only based on some typed words.

And not only within the advertising scene but in the general public and social media, since Dall-E and ChatGPT are publicly accessible the hype is real and you can not escape it on any social media platform you might go to. Why´s that? Simply, because everyone can use it, it´s mostly free of cost and everyone can access it with a device that they already have. All the stuff I mentioned in my critical view on the Metaverse some weeks ago (read here: ) puts up barriers to this new technology.

Upfront, my thoughts about AI and its usage haven´t changed within the last weeks (https://werberjunge.de/2022/08/24/ai-as-content-creator-f-it/). I´m still critical of this kind of development, but I have to acknowledge that AI is already on the way to being adopted by the masses because it´s convenient, it CAN save time and it CAN be used productively and beneficially. The question is: Will it be used to be beneficial or will it be abused to generate some bad stuff? Us humans tend to use things that were invented for the sake of mankind for something not so friendly. Maybe it´s human nature to turn stuff into evil tools. But let´s take this more philosophical question aside and think about AI in advertising.

Will AI change advertising? Yes, it will!

I had the chance to play around with ChatGPT for some weeks now and I put it to the test for some, let´s say, daily tasks I see in my working environment. And I have to admit that I´m impressed with the results. Can it replace humans by today in the advertising field: NO WAY! But is there a chance that AI might replace human employees in the future? Most likely.

Especially when AI meets Big (company) data, I think that AI will create a massive benefit for those who understand the technology and can use it. And by “using it” I don´t mean the developers and tech guys that build the APIs for such an AI. I mean the office worker that can adapt this technology to his/her work.

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This text was generated with an AI-Tool!

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But what is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is a variant of the GPT (Generative Pre-training Transformer) language model developed by OpenAI. It is designed specifically for generating human-like text in chatbot conversations. ChatGPT uses a transformer architecture and is trained on a large dataset of chatbot conversations, allowing it to generate coherent and varied responses to a wide range of input prompts.

(At least this is what ChatGPT tells you if you ask it to describe itself…THIS passage was written by ChatGPT!)

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This text was generated with an AI-Tool!

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There will be a new job-roles soon needed to be called e.g. “AI-Whisperer”. Ok, that may not be the official job title but the usage of AI is heavily reliant on the right questions and requirements you feed the AI to get the result you like to archive. It´s like “googling”. If you know the right questions and the right phrases to look for you will find articles, and YouTube videos that someone that has no clue wouldn´t find because you simply don´t understand how such search machines work. The same mechanics will be necessary soon when it comes to dealing with AI.

I am not a big fan of this development as I pointed out in one of my latest posts, but the fact is AI has become a way stronger topic than Metaverse and it will change the advertising industry (and not only this industry) dramatically and way faster than I expected. And to “simply deny” it, is way too easy, doesn´t work out, and in the end. The change will come anyways. Like it or not.

Where AI will play a major part

As we speak by today the strategy part will get a more significant role in the portfolio of every agency. Agencies should add this strategic consultancy part much stronger into their portfolio they say and it´s true. From my own experience, today´s clients ask for way more than at the beginning of my career for strategic guidance. This is strongly related to the fact that channels become way more complex than 15 years ago. Time´s over when you think about TV, Print, and Radio Channels. Customers are bombarded with messages per day they can not consume anymore. Getting the right message at the right time to the right customer becomes so complex today that Marketeers need and request this kind of guidance. And this is where AI comes into play and can provide essential information.

I say that AI will overtake this part very fast and very soon. Because strategy is nothing more than data, analytics, and methodology. Sounds a little bit harsh, but that´s a fact. I think we can all agree that these parties can be transferred into an AI even by today and it will put out recommendations way faster than any human will ever be able to do. There will be still a human factor needed to add this piece of human experience to the result, but that´s nothing compared to today’s job role of a strategist.


Blog Inspirations


Imagine an AI that combines big data (e.G. Google) with corporate CRM data and that can “read” a corporate style guide. In theory, such an AI should be able to create any kind of advertising campaign in no time based on solid user data and can produce any necessary asset (from Google Ads over OoH-Print assets to complete TVCs), and since it´s already connected to the media agency, it can set up the “perfect” media plans based again on customer-behavior.

I´m pretty sure some people would disagree now. They would claim that human creativity can not be matched by artificial intelligence. And this might be true (for now), but hear me out: I´m not talking about the big brands, but I´m talking about all those companies that can not afford to hire a Network-Agency with all their experts. Small and mid-size companies will highly benefit from this technology if they use it right. And for this “use it right” they need agencies at their side that can get the best out of this combination.

Will Advertising Agencies become obsolete?

No. I don´t think so. But agencies will have change and agencies should brace themselves and their employees on what is coming very soon the people within the agency should familiarize themselves with the usage of such technology and how to use it and generate a benefit for their clients BEFORE clients discover that they have MS-Paint on their Laptops (if you know what I mean).

New roles and skills will be necessary. Roles like:

Data Model Engineer

Data-Modeling-Engineer

Someone who connects internal company data with global consumer data in a useful way. This will be the base of future consultancy to connect, read and analyze this data and create recommendations out of it.

or an

AI-Operator (as skill)

Someone who defines the “right questions”/ brief with the client for such an AI. He/She needs to be able to handle such an AI as well as read the results and submit them to the right person that has the deeper knowledge.

AI-Operator

These are just two roles I can think of right now, but I´m pretty sure that there will be many more.

These will be part of an agency setup as well as the classic roles of art director or account manager. Staying in the classical setup will be devastating for agencies because Tech is developing much faster these days. And employees need to keep up with this development. Staying means falling behind. I know a lot of people that stick to their “Learned” stuff because they try to master what they learned in their original studies or training, but we have to face that Tech doesn´t care that much about what you learned 10-15 years ago. If you stick to this kind of thinking Tech will roll over you and out of a sudden you are behind and have serious problems in the job market.

The other way around, it´s the responsibility of the agency leadership to provide offerings to their employees to get familiar with this kind of Tech, and even more important for the elder employees: Take their fear of new tech. Tech is not an enemy as long as you know how to benefit from it. And that´s something especially agencies are lacking. Training is hard to get as an employee due to cost savings and to rely on your employees to find “free stuff” on the web is a bad mistake. You can not expect that all your staff is cheering and jumping straight into the www searching for the latest and greatest stuff about such new technology. You have to consider that some people are not that into Tech and some even have fears about Technology because they fear to get obsolete or replaced by it. You as management have to respect those feelings and need to find a way to take these fears away from them. It´s better to invest in good training concepts for your employees than waiting for them to take the first step that might never come. A staff that can not meet the future expectations of this job will quickly become less profit-generating than the ones that embrace the new Tech that is coming the way.

Summary:

AI will become a much faster part of today’s working culture than I expected only 6 months ago. It can be an opportunity and chance for agencies that can adapt this kind of technology into their working processes. In reverse, those agencies that jump late or not at all on this train will soon face a serious disadvantage on the market, because brands will soon be requesting such services. But as always: I could be wrong. Happy to discuss this.

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Photo by Nubelson Fernandes on Unsplash

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

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