IAB Working Group Aims To Develop Marketing Standards For Artificial Intelligence

The Interactive Advertising Bureau has established a working group of industry executives to tackle three areas that will shape the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in the digital marketing space: recruiting talent, developing new approaches to creativity, and establishing insights.

The IAB AI/Machine Learning for Marketing Purposes Working Group is headed by Co-Chairs Patrick Albano, Chief Revenue Officer of AdTheorent, and Jordan Bitterman, CMO of IBM’s the Weather Company.

The Weather Company has been particularly aggressive in using IBM’s AI and machine learning system, Watson, to power campaigns for the likes of Campbell Soup Company, Unilever, and GSK Consumer Healthcare.

“Transforming ourselves and industries is part of The Weather Company DNA,” Jeremy Steinberg, TWC’s Head of Global Sales, told us earlier this year. “We’ve embraced big data and leveraged it to improve every aspect of our business, from forecast accuracy to ad targeting. Now we’ve set our sights on cognition. We believe human interaction is the new ‘search,’ and that cognitive advertising is the next frontier in marketing – and we’re leading the charge to make it a reality.”

The Weather Company is in the process of establishing the Watson Ads Council, which will include a marketers who will act as a sounding board for the latest ways of leveraging Watson Ads and the use of artificial intelligence for brands.

The IAB is expected to amplify and organize existing efforts at using AI and machine learning for advertising.

Citing a Forrester prediction that by 2020, Albano wrote a blog post introducing the working group by nothing “the companies that effectively master AI will steal $1.2 trillion per year from those that don’t… If you’re not thinking about it yet, hold your wallet because the race is on.”

In addition to the three initial subjects the working group plans to tackle, Albano also highlighted these areas of interest that will be on the agenda as well:

  • Understanding how AI and ML will impact our business
  • Simplifying, defining and setting standards for the space as it relates to the advertising and marketing industry
  • Organizing tools for the industry to plan ahead
  • Thinking about responsible usage of AI so that humans and machines work well together into the future

The assembling of the working group on AI follows the publication of the IAB’s  “playbook” on understanding location-based advertising in April.

On the talent development front, Albano offered a military analogy to what digital marketing companies face in terms of finding the right people to move AI and machine learning programs ahead.

“Recruiting people is hard as so much of the decision is based on timing and circumstance,” Albano wrote. “A cliché approach to recruiting for the armed services is ‘setting up a table in a shopping mall,’ which is similar to the way that a lot of advertising targeting works – make a broad assumption (potential recruits will visit the mall) and hope for the best (maybe our sign will attract them).

“The US Air Force took a different approach earlier this year by using Machine Learning to analyze the different attributes of young men and women across the US and predictively target the people most likely to volunteer for service,” he continued. “This not only takes the guess work out of advertising, but it also identifies hard-to-reach audiences with the right message.”

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How VR And Mobility Are Influencing Ford’s Marketing

When the Ford Motor Company made the leap into Virtual Reality in August 2016, its goals were firm and clear: this was not an experiment. It would not be a one-time ad campaign designed to “generate buzz” and then disappear. And Ford’s VR experience would not be housed on another company’s platform.

Ford, along with its dedicated agency, GTB, partnered with integrated production company Tool of North America, to create what they say is the “auto industry’s first dedicated branded VR app and recurring content series.”

“It wasn’t about selling vehicles,” said Lisa Schoder, Integrated Marketing & Media Lead at Ford, during a panel session with the company’s VR allies at the IAB Mobile Symposium. “This was more about building the brand. This was about telling Ford’s story of innovation in our products and engineering development.”

GTB’s Christian Colasuonno, Ford’s Lisa Schoder, and Tool’s Dustin Callif at the IAB Mobile Symposium

VR: It’s Where The Customers Are Going

The deep dive into VR reflects Ford’s recognition of where potential customers are consuming content. Plus, it reflects the desire to move to a mobile-first strategy,” Schoder said.

“The VR app made sense for us as a way to pursue original storytelling through  in a thoughtful way,” she said. “We avoided thinking of this as a ‘one and done.’ This was about building a new channel for us to distribute content on.”

The first piece of featured VR content during the launch was the story behind the Ford GT’s return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 50 years after the car’s original victory. The underlying message of the content was to showcase “the power and efficiency in Ford’s EcoBoost engine” as well.

“On top of sharing virtual reality stories about our innovative products, we are also looking to bring mobility issues to the forefront,” Schoder said at the time of the launch. “As we expand our business to be both an auto and a mobility company, we are pursuing emerging opportunities through Ford Smart Mobility.”

From the final installment of the Gymkhana NINE virtual reality and 360-degree video series.

Initial Results Are Strong

The idea for focusing on VR as a branding tool had been “kicking around  the agency for a while,” said Christian Colasuonno, director of Digital Production at GTB.

For example, at another IAB conference last year,  MINI USA’s Lee Nadler showcased that car company’s use of VR as well. The  main goal was not just to share arresting visuals. He wanted to demonstrate that, even though “VR isn’t mass yet,” the ability of immersive, 3D visuals are able to lift brand favorability by 11 percent after generating 4.2 million views.

For Ford, the initial results of its VR efforts were even stronger. The VR experience for Ford’s participation in Gymkhana, the Australian and New Zealand motorsport race, last October drew over 17 million-plus views, as well as drew widespread coverage from media outlets both general and automotive-focused.

During the IAB presentation, Dustin Callif, Tool’s managing partner, noted that Schoder started her career on the engineering side and then moved to marketing.

“The story we’re telling is how that reputation for performance can be stepped up into something larger for the brand,”Callif said before turning to Schoder. “Is [this use of VR and mobile] analogous to the relationship between the auto-enthusiast books and the mainstream advertising were back 20 years ago? Is this an advanced version of that?”

“Maybe,” Schoder responded. “At least in the way we approached it, if we were saying we wanted to deliver stories with the Ford brand onstage, those key moments are in our performance portfolio. And we also knew that when we dug into the audience insights with our performance fanbase, we knew they were largely into tech and identify as early adopters. Now, we’re looking to go beyond performance to see what other stories we can tell to a broader audience.”

Smart Mobility And Connected Cars

Following the panel, we caught up with Schoder and asked her about other emerging channels that can offer both a branding experience as well as drive performance to local dealers.

While the IAB panel discussion was about the role of Ford’s VR app as a branding and content distribution tool, does Schoder see VR as something that can work at the local dealership level to create an omnichannel experience intended to drive sales?

It certainly could be,” Schoder told GeoMarketing. “This particular app was initiated to build brand stories. We’re also looking at VR within the shopping experience. It could provide education about new features, for example, ‘How do you experience the all-new Expedition from the inside-out?’ That is certainly a part of how we might approach the overall use of the VR technology.”

Aside from VR, Ford is also exploring ways of using voice-activated, artificial intelligence-powered digital assistants like Alexa or Siri or Okay Google as part of a wider smart mobility strategy, she noted.

“We want to understand how to work with Amazon on Alexa, so that if someone asks a question about one of our cars, they can have the right answer, the best answer for them,” Schoder said. “We are already working with Amazon on our connected vehicles and see how Alexa fits into what we’re doing and what our customers want. For example, it would be exciting for someone to say, ‘Hey Alexa, start my car.’ The car is a piece of the Internet of Things ecosystem and we want to explore all of it.”

 

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How Verve And Digital Domain Are Pairing Geo-Data With Video

The introduction of Verve’s location-based mobile video ad offering last week is intended to capitalize on the popularity of location and “sight, sound, and motion” that has become fairly mainstream for most advertisers and publishers as mobile marketing itself becomes more central.

Verve cited figures from the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s 2016 Full Year Report that mobile video ad spending jumped 145 percent year-over-year to nearly $4.2 billion — a clear demonstration of brands’ interest in video’s acceptance on smaller screens.

While the combination of location and video is not unusual, the differences between display, rich media, and native is important enough technologically to create a distinct offering.

“What we’re launching is in direct response to what we’re hearing from our clients and where consumer attention is going,” said Kevin Arrix, Verve’s Chief Revenue Officer. “We see tremendous value in helping brands unlock the distinctive power of location data for mobile video, not only in terms of finding consumers in real-time but, more meaningfully, by targeting the most relevant audiences based on their historical movement patterns.”

The location/video offering follows the partnership it struck with video effects and production platform Digital Domain back in February. It’s positioned within Verve Activate, the location ad platform’s audience segmentation, insights, and targeting program.

“Our partnership with Verve continues to align around this powerful combination of technology and artistry,” said Amit Chopra, Executive Director and COO at Digital Domain. “Bringing immersive technology to location-powered video expands and enhances the ways in which brands can convey engaging and contextually relevant ads to consumers.”

In a look at how Facebook and YouTube were influencing the role of mobile video in March,  Verve’s VP and creative director Walter T. Geer III wrote on GeoMarketing that “Brands and publishers clearly want to get to a point where they’re offering both meaningful, location- and context-sensitive experiences and meaningful monetization. But the industry is still in the early days of defining how video content on the smartphone and mobile device can achieve that goal, contextual and otherwise. Success in all these efforts comes down to finding smarter ways to engage.”

We spoke with Verve’s Arrix ahead of his appearance at Tuesday’s IAB Mobile Symposium, where he’ll be discussing location-based ad sales strategies.

GeoMarketing: What’s special about the way Verve is linking location and video?

Kevin Arrix: The fact that our agency and brand partners have been pretty excited by the power and results of location, as well as noting the importance of online video, our partners encouraged us to find ways of putting the two together. So this is all about delivering a scaled video/location solution to the marketplace.

Does this product represent any new capabilities versus what Verve was able to do before, or is this mainly about offering a formal, synthesized solution?

We’ve been testing the incremental benefit of location targeting and insights for video. So bringing that added layer of our first-party data, the precision that goes with that to display, rich media, and now video, is something we’ve been working on. It was just a no-brainer for us to bring this comprehensive offering wider.

What’s the nature of the partnership Verve struck in February with Digital Domain? Is there a creative capability being baked in to the location/video offering?

Digital Domain is a world-class production and camera technology company. They bring that capability and quality to our advertiser partners. Working with Digital Domain also helps us address a something missing in the marketplace around 360-degree video: one of the challenges is distribution. If we pair our presence, our distribution platform with Digital Domain’s expertise, it makes for a great combination.

How are Verve and Digital Domain going to market with this location/video solution?

We’re in the process of approaching our strongest partners. It’s open to advertiser who sees the value in more forward-thinking video formats. But it’s all done in conjunction with Digital Domain.

The focus is on proving out the power of location and video in a variety of ways and use cases. We’ve proven it in display and rich media. So, we’re expanding our suite of mobile advertising solutions. The ability to overlay high-quality, first-party location data places Verve in a unique position to help brands elevate their mobile strategy by enabling them to reach intended audiences with greater efficiency and relevance.

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