When did we stop trusting creative to lead?

By IBM Watson Advertising

Contributing author: Sarah Ripmaster, Head of Technology Sales, IBM Watson Advertising

You don’t have to look much further than the brands that have been marketing during the COVID-19 crisis to realize that consumers crave more authenticity and creativity from companies that seek their loyalty.

Unfortunately, creating and delivering messages of value is harder than ever. Most consumers use multiple devices every day as well as tools that protect their security and privacy online. While these services and devices play important roles in the digital economy, they also create challenges in determining whether the right audiences are being reached with the right message.

While the last ten years have helped brands and publishers benefit from consumers’ shift to digital, marketing priorities have changed from a creative-first approach to targeting customers for ad serves, clicks and downloads. The unintended consequence is waning consumer trust and metrics that make us feel accomplished but don’t drive results.

But marketers have an opportunity to go back to basics by becoming great storytellers again. A surge in technological sophistication presents the ability to discover new and better ways to build trusted connections with our customers. That’s why in January 2020, IBM Watson Advertising set out to determine if and how AI could impact the creative process.

The role of AI shouldn’t be to automate human action, but rather to augment human thinking at scale. With this in mind, we tested AI’s impact on one of the most human parts of our industry – creative.

IBM Watson Advertising gave brands an offering called IBM Advertising Accelerator with Watson that is designed to rapidly predict and continuously learn which creative elements will resonate with each audience based on  a multitude of key signals such as consumer reaction, DMA, device type, weather, and time of day. The solution then helps brands deliver a unique ad unit loaded with the most inviting creative to the right audience each and every time. IBM Advertising Accelerator with Watson is also designed to improve with each use, just like the human brain.

The results show that AI may have a growing and powerful effect on the advertising industry, similar to how programmatic changed the discipline over a decade ago. Specifically, we found that brands that used Accelerator saw:

  • ~25% increase in performance from the beginning of the campaign to the end
  • 10% lift in site visits after one week
  • An influx of valuable insights including what text, visuals, platforms, time of day and more resonated best with different audiences

IBM also tested the solution on a new campaign promoting our own Storm Radar app. In less than a month, app installs increased by 200%.

We want to help our industry use AI to get back to the work that really matters while increasing trust between brands, consumers and publishers. Creating compelling, relevant content that resonates with audiences on an emotional level – not just from a demographic standpoint – can help cultivate the loyalty that is essential to converting customers into advocates. These are muscles that our industry already possesses. Allowing creative to lead can help us make them stronger and meet the current consumer and market demand.

Because of this, we are announcing Call for Creative, an initiative in which IBM will supply the first five advertisers who reach out with a free instance of Accelerator for the duration of their campaign. We believe that by offering this technology at no cost, we will set an example of the power AI can have for accelerating positive change when used in an open and purposeful way.

Go to ibm.biz/callforcreative to learn more.