AI in ad & marketing Part 1 – A $48.8 bn opportunity waiting to be tapped

Image credits: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Image credits: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

During Diwali last year, Cadbury had come up with a unique campaign, called ‘Not Just A Cadbury Ad’, which allowed local store owners in India to promote their shops free of cost. The campaign made use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), which allowed the shop owners to create their own custom ads by recreating Shah Rukh Khan’s face and voice to promote their business. The idea was to extend a helping hand to the pandemic-ravaged local shop owners. Prior to that, the chocolate brand had used Hrithik Roshan in an AI-assisted campaign, which delivered personalised voice messaging.

How far will advertisers and marketers use this technology in their marketing and advertising campaigns? Will we get to see the widespread application of tools like AI and machine learning in marketing campaigns in the times ahead? Adgully reached out to subject experts to understand this and much more.

Experts are unanimous in their view that the AI can be a great tool at the hands of marketers.

According to Ernest Lupinacci, Brand Strategist at Atlas Earth, both the Cadbury videos are fantastic examples how AI technology can be used to create branded content, specifically because the technology wasn’t the concept; it was merely the best means of executing the concept.

“Just as with any technology, adoption will be slow, then rapid, and eventually the use will be extensive – but most of the use cases will probably be “concept-like” and “technique heavy”. And again, that’s true of all technology – especially in our industry. And that’s why the Cadbury work is so admirable; while we’re only on the cusp of understanding what we can do with AI; these films have already established a deft, intelligent, enviable benchmark,” Lupinacci remarked.

Artificial intelligence is known to drive enormous change, particularly in the marketing domain, as compared to other areas of business operations, observes Madhusmita Panda, Chief Marketing Officer, KredX. According to her, most ad formats haven’t changed for years and many researchers predict that consumers are skeptical about advertising, and a lack of trust leads to underperforming campaigns and decreased ad spending. However, she adds, given the development of new-age technologies, synthetic ads provide an opportunity to create new forms of advertising and some businesses are already experimenting with this new form of advertisement.

Unlike traditional advertisements, synthetic ads are both time- and cost-effective, she says.

“Instead of creating an expensive video for each campaign, advertisers can use technology to create their content and personalise it with the help of synthetic additions or elements. This allows cutting down costs for additional resources and multiple locations, thus saving time and cost. These ads are the future that is already here. With so much content everywhere, many companies are struggling to find new ways to capture attention. And the answer lies in hyper-personalisation and innovative technologies that put the consumer at the center of campaigns. AI and ML can help jazz up advertising by bringing new ad forms to life and democratizing ad creation. Synthetic media can be the key to new content creation that allows for a direct connection with customers across different platforms and locations,” Panda adds.

She is certain that this is just the beginning, and in the coming years, brands will increasingly invest in this form of advertisement, which allows one to personalise content their way along with being time- and cost-effective.

With AI being implemented by businesses across domains, the marketing and advertising industry has also embraced it to make campaigns hyper-personalised and relatable to their target audience, notes Surbhi Agarwal, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing, “We have seen that AI-assisted videos are fast becoming a highly viable option for brands to enhance customer experience, deliver personalised sales and marketing campaigns, boost overall engagement, and last-mile conversions. More than anything, it also helps to increase brand awareness and recall in today's highly cluttered market. And that is not just the only way the A&M industry is leveraging AI,” she adds.

Widespread industry use?

Can we expect to see the widespread usage of AI in the fields of marketing and advertising in the times ahead? Will we see AI-generated ads as a cheap alternative to real ads?

According to Agarwal, the industry leverages AI in the following areas:

AI-powered conversational ads: With hyper-personalisation becoming the order of the day, we are seeing businesses’ demand for conversational AI-powered solutions that help companies understand their customers better, deliver targeted campaigns, and capture leads on chat interfaces across social media, websites, voice, and more channels. Through conversational marketing, AI is being integrated across the customer’s end-to-end buyer journey, delivering customisation at scale. The platform helps companies transform their ad campaigns to deliver truly integrated and personalised ad experiences. For instance, it helps businesses reach their consumers by using their customer conversations across digital ads, offline stores, apps, websites, social media, and more. It enables consumers to browse products, receive discounts, place orders, make payments, and connect with customer care partners from a single interface.

Conversational Commerce: Not only that, brands are also capitalising on conversational commerce through messaging channels such as WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook messenger, to name a few. They are using these channels to deliver Dynamic AI agent-initiated conversations that proactively engage with customers through promotions, campaigns, back-in-stock notifications, abandoned cart reminders, etc. For instance, if it’s a customer’s birthday month, an airline brand can send a message to them, initiated by an AI agent, with a special discount on flight tariffs.

Automation via voice AI agents: Conversational AI-powered voice automation is helping brands deploy branded voice AI agents to establish their distinct personalities while interacting with customers. For example, brands can choose specific voices and languages for their voice AI agents. They can choose between dialects of the same language or a male or female natural human voice in the chosen language. A successful example of this is’s work with Edelweiss General Insurance, where the voice AI agent for automated motor claim registration can not only interact with garage representatives in Hindi and English, but also in Hinglish to cater to their customer base and offer a hyper-personalised experience.

Essentially, points out Agarwal, the fact is that the Indian A&M sector has begun to use AI to improve the effectiveness of advertisements for brands. “Other significant uses of AI in the market include the use of digital avatars; deploying AI to offer more individualised variations of the same commercials to various consumers; and targeting consumers with adverts based on insights produced by AI tools. And this is only the start. AI is certainly a huge enabler, and in the upcoming years, its use across this industry will increase substantially,” she says.

Advertisements are a front-runner in marketing as they play a vital role in improving the sales of products, points out Madhusmita Panda. However, she adds, advertisements can be expensive. “Starting from choosing models to picking a shooting location and affording to the cameramen, and machinery used for the process, advertisements come with a huge sum of money spent. Adapting to the reality of the pandemic and lockdown limitations, many brands have been re-evaluating how labour-intensive and expensive the advertising process is. Synthetic ads can make advertising much easier, and make production less time-, resource- and money-intensive. Instead of creating an expensive video for each campaign, advertisers can use technology to create their content and personalise it with the help of synthetic additions or components,” she explains.

AI has seeped into our digital lives through graphic designing, content writing, video making, and interactive video space as well, says Himani Agrawal, Senior Vice President - Product & Analytics, Hypothesis. “As brands seek more return on investment from their advertising efforts, they are turning to AI and analytical processes to get a deeper understanding of consumer behaviour. This, in turn, helps them to improve their personalisation strategies. With the help of AI and ML, we can process massive data and create personalised messaging that resonates precisely with its TA. Cutting time, and effort and speeding up the process of production due to its ability to conduct dynamic analysis and machine learning gives marketers quick output as compared to the traditional method of manually putting data into excel and then calculating it accordingly.”

Himani Agrawal further adds, “Due to its dynamic deep learning system, it can continuously be fed information and improved/ tweaked. This broadens the opportunity for marketers, media houses and technology partners to come together and create an ecosystem. This evolving system will soon and in fact, already turned into a well-oiled machine to pick up and analyse various consumer behaviour patterns, hence, becoming a storehouse of valuable data and insights, that could be further used to improve future marketing strategies. Due to its heavy investment in initial campaign-building stages, many marketers might not be quick to jump on the bandwagon, but seeing the huge ROI that it brings, marketers are eager to lean towards it.”

Using technologies, including AI, machine learning, and deep learning algorithms, marketers can seamlessly gather, analyse, and integrate key data into their strategies, refine their audience targeting and craft personalised messages to customers at every stage of the marketing funnel, explains Himani Agrawal. “With the inclusion of AI in advertising, marketers can auto-match their ads to relevant audience based on their demographics, behaviour and interest. Using AI for creating dynamic ads to deliver targeted ads to people based on the content their behavior on the website and the actions they took. Today we have AI-powered platforms like Hypothesis, which helps marketers optimise their campaigns ROI in real-time by sharing insights on campaign attributes. With all these benefits and accessibility to AI-infused platforms, AI-generated ads are gaining popularity amongst the marketers and advertisers,” says Agrawal.

AI in marketing is not a thing of the future; it’s already being used extensively today, says Shajesh Menon, CEO and Founder Younion. From making user experiences more interactive, intuitive and responsive, conversational AI can be used to collect data sets, gauge intent, analyse patterns and optimize funnel conversion. According to him, the use cases are plenty, such as nimble chatbots that save time and money, personalised marketing campaigns that are based on user/ persona behaviour, social listening, surveys, appointment scheduling, etc. “We’re living in a cyclical world where we’re trying to augment human intelligence with AI and humanise AI on the other end of the spectrum.”

Experts are of the opinion that we can expect to see the widespread usage of AI in the fields of marketing and advertising in the times ahead.

AI has certainly penetrated deep into this industry already, and the valuation of AI in marketing is poised to reach $48.8 billion by 2030, informs Surbhi Agarwal. According to her, AI-powered conversational ads have become the brand new way of attracting hyper-targeted segments. It is offering marketers and advertisers a robust way to engage prospects, gather essential new data, shorten sales cycles, and drive higher conversion rates than anyone else before, offering convenience for marketers and customers through hands-free channels such as voice.

“The use of AI in advertising helps businesses categorise their audience and target ads according to preferences based on various demographic and behavioural data points. From conversational display banner ads to conversational landing pages, consumers can have two-way contextual conversation within the advertisement and create interactivity, resulting in a better experience. Also, they don’t have to switch apps, helping reduce drop-offs. Businesses can take advantage of AI by taking offline buyers to an online catalogue with QR code scans, providing a seamless experience and increasing engagement as well as brand awareness,” she adds.

Surbhi Agarwal says that’s conversational AI platform allows brands to create hyper-personalised campaigns across social and traditional channels to foster engagement, including point-of-sale – from in-store to mobile, sales, referral, social, and even support. “With AI-powered digital advertising solutions, marketers and advertisers can fix leaky funnels so as to drastically decrease drop-offs, increase lead generation, and attract more quality leads without having to invest heavily in their campaigns. Not only is this a more cost-effective solution, but it also contributes to increased sales through intelligent cross-sell and up-sell. For instance, our Dynamic AI agents analyse customer behaviours and past interactions to provide personalised experiences and proactive suggestions to prospects at the time when it matters the most. In fact, at, we have seen up to a 500 percent increase in qualified leads through our Conversational AI-powered ads, as well as a 9x increase in conversion.”

(Tomorrow Part 2: AI-generated ads as cheap alternatives, as well as the ethical challenges.)


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