Brands and agencies have always placed creativity at the heart of advertising. But as digital channels proliferate, the cost, complexity, and demand for media’s measurability have driven the emphasis to marketing technology. For those reasons, CMOs are starting to apply artificial intelligence to digital media buying, campaign automation, or marketing mix optimization. Few brands, however, use AI as a partner in the creative process to help scale creative capability and capacity within data-driven marketing approaches.

Luc Julia, cocreator of Siri, believes artificial creativity does not exist yet. Indeed, let’s not confuse artistic creativity with business creativity. AI has helped write songs, mimic the styles of painters by creating a piece of art that sold for over $400,000, and inform creative decisions in filmmaking. Artistic creativity may be more about pattern and algorithm than we give it credit for, and very often, the patterns are hidden — that’s something AI can help discover. But let’s be clear: AI’s impact on creativity is not about machines taking over — it’s about infusing intelligent technology into the creative process to augment the human capacity to create and execute ideas with the benefit of saving time, solving capacity challenges, and enhancing the ability to find the best idea possible.

In the past few months, I have interviewed many different stakeholders to get their perspective on how AI can boost the creative process. The key finding is that you first need to use data insights to fuel your creativity and then only think of AI as your creative teammate.

To summarize:

  • Creativity should not be limited to the idea process. Scaling a creative mindset across marketing, media, technology, customer experience, and operations is key to brand differentiation and innovation.
  • Inject intelligent data into, not just alongside, the creative process. Automating content creation and media buying is a starting point. Inject intelligent data into the creative thinking and strategic planning process early.
  • Use AI to make the right data-driven creative decisions. AI technologies such as computer vision, natural language processing, and machine learning will help you better understand the emotional state of customers and optimize creative impact throughout the customer journey.

Wesley ter Haar, founder and COO at MediaMonks, summed it up very well when he told Forrester, “This is less about focusing creative attention on a single, big idea concentrated on 20% of your media spend but more about a collection of small ideas hyperfocused to meet the need of an always-on audience.”

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