AdYouLike is one of world’s largest artificial-intelligence-driven ad platforms. Adotas and General Manager U.S. and Chief Revenue Officer at ADYOULIKE Francis Turner (pictured left) sat down to discuss how artificial intelligence is changing the ad world.
Q: What are your thoughts on the state of innovation within the adtech industry?
A: There’s been a massive proliferation of new technologies in the digital advertising ecosystem the past few years, which makes it a really exciting industry to be in. The ability to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) has been a tremendous addition to the ad tech arsenal, especially with its ability to curtail some of our biggest issues, like ad fraud and brand safety.
Another developing area is programmatic, which is has grown leaps and bounds since its advent. No longer is it relegating ads to leftover inventory on low-tier websites. It’s top tier publishers, and it works for video and native as well as traditional display ads. For example, programmatic native enables us to deliver more relevant, compelling ad content. In an environment where audiences have little patience for stories that carry no relevance for them and the need for publishers to create seamlessly content-driven experiences, it’s a win-win for everyone.
Header bidding has also taken the industry by storm, driven by the level playing field it offers with flatter auctions and better overall rates. I think we’ll continue to see technologies like this develop for advertising across display, video and native.
Q: How does artificial intelligence help improve and enhance ad campaigns for consumers?
A: AI can be used in a number of ways, including content recommendation and analysis. Before there was AI, our ability to target segments of users lacked precision, which lowers efficacy. Now, we can use AI to read like a person would, which gives us the ability to match audience members, content and ads. AI is a scalable way to get the understanding of context and sentiment, and enables us to deliver personalized experiences while also giving marketers assurance of brand safety.
While there are concerns that AI will create job displacement, we need to realize that machines are better at crunching numbers than we are. AI helps us do the heavy lifting, which gives advertisers more time to work on creative in the long run. Soon we’ll see fewer wasted impressions with ads that are more targeted and focused, leading to better campaign results.
Q: What are some ways publishers can proactively prepare for the AI revolution?
A: Publishers should not only prepare for AI, they should embrace it for how it lets content and context come together in a meaningful way. And as I mentioned earlier, we don’t advocate going all in and relying solely on AI. Instead, we recommend a hybrid approach where they use their own data to deliver the right content – no matter if it’s an ad or a video or an article – to the right user at the right time.
I like the Mad Men and Math Men approach to looking at it. A generation ago, the creative talent in the advertising world had to rely on gut instincts to deliver content. Today, the advertising world has an unprecedented amount of data at our disposal, and it gives us much more room to focus on the creative aspects.
Today’s marketer has many more channels to choose from. With all of this data, there’s ultimately more responsibility across the entire organization.
Q: Describe how machine learning tools like IBM Watson actually breaks down ad content?
A: Watson has been a game changer, and one of the most important doors it has opened is semantic targeting. Using Watson, we can “read” content like a human would but at an unbelieveable scale. Watson can take huge amounts of data and turn it into insights on things like viewing habits, so we can reduce waste that results from serving irrelevant ads to audiences. Content in context.
Q: Should ad agencies be concerned about being overly intrusive in their usage of personal data?
A: While people might not want ads, they particularly don’t want ads that can negatively affect a site’s viewing experience. Data is the price we often have to pay, but it’s a bargain when the trade-off is better experiences with fewer annoyances. Hopefully we’ll create ads that people like, and native is certainly a way for us to deliver ads that more are relevant
Q: Other than AI, what are the biggest trends you see affecting the digital advertising ecosystem?
A: I think we’re finally making peace with the value exchange needed in the free-content ecosystem, and native is a big part of that. People hate to navigate through crappy ads and native is growing in use because it shifts from traditional “look at me” advertising to more viewer-friendly, informative and entertaining content. We did extensive research concluding that branded content inherently adds value and boosts favorability, and consumers hold positive attitudes toward native advertising that’s delivered by relevant and trusted brands. Ultimately, people don’t really care about ads as long as they’re good and not deceptive.
In reality, native gives advertisers a way to tell richer, more engaging stories to connect with their audience on a deeper level. Not to mention it means fewer annoying banner ads. In the future via native placements, irrelevant banner ads will be eliminated altogether
About Francis Turner:
Francis Turner has 13 years of experience in marketing and the media industry. In his current role as General Manager, US and Chief Revenue Officer at ADYOULIKE, Turner is responsible for building the native advertising platform’s business in the North American market. Prior to Adyoulike, Turner was co-founder of Content AMP, the UK’s first native advertising platform and network. The company merged with Adyoulike, which has become a leading in-feed native ad platform internationally, in 2014.