How Artificial Intelligence Won’t Change Digital Advertising

AI is a powerful technology working in an unhealthy advertising ecosystem. It is unlikely to have a significant impact on digital advertising because of three factors related to the imperfections of the current ecosystem. The first is that targeting isn’t working all that well anyway. And as third-party cookies are deprecated and the present effect of Apple’s privacy policies combine, the data that feeds AI will not be a great training set. Secondly, bad actors in the ecosystem are faster than good actors and will use AI to improve their fraud. Finally, economic expectations are such that if AI has any impact, it will be used to replace human thought workers and not improve the process of advertising.

Use AI to Automate These Aspects of Market Research

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Adopting AI usage into business functions seems to be the new trend, but can it be used to increase efficiency in market research? This study finds that it can help reduce costs and improve speed by automating some aspects of the process. One such way is to use Large Language Models (LLMs) as stand-ins for human survey respondents. The pool of respondents is shrinking. Moreover, the research finds that LLMs can realistically reflect consumer preferences because they have been trained on extensive online data. This process is also a fraction of the cost and time required with conventional methods.

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Unlocking Reach in Premium Content

Mike LevinProduct Management, NBCU

Emily KwokSenior Director, Ad Experience Measurement, NBCU

NBCU’s Mike Levin and Emily Kwok tested brand safety in premium video content from a viewer perspective in their research using NBCU’s proprietary AI tech for automating brand safety and suitability decision making. The study’s three objectives asked whether increasingly violent episodes influence viewers’ experiences, if they then assign blame to marketers for knowingly advertising in explicit or violent content, and if there are specific instances where adjacency affects viewer sentiment towards an ad. Measuring unconscious response to nine episodes across two seasons tagged with three levels of risk, facial coding and eye gaze technology, complemented by traditional surveys, captured the impact on a nationally representative sample of 1,800 respondents. Finding that violent episodes maintained stable levels of attention, the study also determined that traces of negative emotion were scarcer in the more violent episodes.

Key Takeaways

  • From the mildest episodes to the most violent, viewer attention remained stable. Attention to high risk episodes measured in at 51.5%, with attention to low-risk episodes at 51.4%.
  • Viewers don’t attribute blame to advertisers. “There’s more reward than risk,” according to Emily. Viewers tend to enjoy brands that are sponsoring the content they love, controversial or not—8 in 10 agree that they don’t distrust brands that advertise in graphic TV shows.
  • Several rare cases where gratuitous violence immediately preceding an ad break did carry negative sentiment into the first seconds of the ad.

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The ARF hosted its annual flagship conference, AUDIENCExSCIENCE 2023, on April 25-26, 2023. The industry’s biggest names and brightest minds came together to share new insights on the impact of changing consumer behavior on brands, insights into TV consumption, campaign measurement and effectiveness, whether all impressions are equal, join-up solutions across multiple media, the validity, reliability and predictive power of Attention measures, targeting diverse audiences, privacy’s effect on advertising and the impact of advertising in new formats. Keynotes were presented by Tim Hwang, author of Subprime Attention Crisis, Robert L. Santos of the U.S. Census Bureau, Brian Wieser of Madison and Wall, LLC and Andrea Zapata of Warner Bros. Discovery.

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The ARF Immersive Advertising Study

What attitudes do advertisers currently have about virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and the metaverse? This is an important question, since according to one report by Snap, nearly 75% of the world’s population (and almost all of those using social communications apps right now) are expected to be frequent VR users. A new ARF study, using data from The Advertiser Perceptions Ad Pros proprietary community, gives us a much fuller understanding of advertisers’ attitudes and behaviors toward these nascent technologies.

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The Future of Social Media for Marketers

  • By Stephanie, Scalice, Young Pros Chair, LinkedIn

On March 16, 2023, the ARF Young Pros led an exploration of the ongoing transformation and future trajectory of social media to help organizations navigate the landscape and create more strategic social media plans. Panelists discussed trends, the role of influencers, creative branding campaigns and more.

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What Does AI Mean for Advertising Research?


We’ve all heard about the growing use of artificial intelligence in advertising research and doom and gloom predictions that it will knock out jobs, but is this really the case? Agency leaders joined us for an ARF Town Hall to discuss the upsides and possible downsides of generative AI, as well as how they’re utilizing it in their businesses to boost efficiency. Attendees heard predictions on how AI will change the business model of advertising and what it could mean for media agencies.