From SRK’s push for local shops to Ranveer’s invite: How AI became the real star in 2021

The year saw AI stepping into the traditional world of creativity with campaigns like Cadbury’s ‘Not a Cadbury ad’ and Colors’ promotions for ‘The Big Picture’

e4m by Mansi Sharma
Published: Dec 8, 2021 8:41 AM  | 6 min read

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming an integral part of the day-to-day happenings across industries. As per an extensive report by AIM and TAPMI, the Indian Artificial Intelligence market is valued at $7.8 billion (Rs 588 thousand crores, approx) as of July–August 2021, a 22% increase in the size of the market over 2020. There has been a constant jump in the use of AI in advertising and marketing industries over the past few years. The year 2021 also saw some of the forward-facing and path-breaking campaigns that brought in the power of artificial intelligence in the creative process along with pushing up the boundaries on the media side. Here’s an overview of the AI in the advertising & marketing industry for the year 2021 and an industry-defined outlook for the coming year. 

AI across CMDT

While on the face of it AI might sound like a machine-heavy media vehicle to crunch numbers and insights, the year 2021 saw its smart usage beyond those constricted realms and across marketing functions, right from consumer profiling to making an impact via creativity. 

Zoo Media CTO & Noesis.Tech Founder Siddharth Bhansali elaborates, “AI has been functional across Content, Data, Media, and Tech (CDMT) in 2021.  In content, we saw AI being responsible for generating content and modifying content. Like what we say with Rephrase AI, wherein they took pre-recorded videos of celebrities and personalised them using the target audience’s name. In addition, we also saw AI being used to report what content was working and what was not working given a particular strategy. It also  played a huge role in identifying different kinds of audiences and connecting with them. We saw both Facebook and Google trying to tackle the changes that came up with the privacy guidelines laid down by Apple.

“From a data perspective, AI has played a huge role in predicting campaign success and the audiences that would work for a particular campaign. Lastly, we are seeing AI being included in custom technology, building custom websites and custom software. We are seeing the integration of AI in powering personalised experiences, recommended products, solutions, and content. We’ve also seen a lot of AI being used in creating product discovery journey’s where we ourselves have used and created product discovery wizards where users are asked a series of questions that dynamically change based on their responses. And based on the responses, we recommend them content to read or products to purchase. And this AI is learning as well by tracking the success of its recommendations across every user it makes a recommendation.” 

Key Trends That Shaped 2021

Grapes National Business Head Rajeesh Rajagopalan highlights that the real power of AI lies in its learning capabilities, i.e, it can gauge relevant information from data sets to generate insights for marketers that can be used to create personalised campaigns and targeted products. “I would say AI has been everywhere for the last 4-5 years. Some companies might not even realise but artificial intelligence is helping them across verticals, right from building relevant products for the consumers to creating personalised ads, sharp targeting, and doing consumer clustering to making media buying and planning much easier. One of the most important trends that it has led to, for the A&M industry, is how all advertising agencies are now keenly focussing on strengthening their tech arms to leverage the most of this information.” 

Isobar India National Creative Director Aalap Desai further expands the key trends for AI in 2021, “Chatbots have grown like wildfire. Every brand has one now. It has created efficiency and automated conversations on a huge level; that too 24X7. AI has helped the planning of media better and more efficiently. It has given Big Data Analytics a new meaning. AI has now been connected with the Internet of Things (IoT), and we have grown in terms of connected experiences.” 

Another trend that has started picking up is the use of AI in consumer-facing functions like creativity in advertising. The experts talked about two campaigns done by for Cadbury and Color’s show The Big Picture, where the brands used the power of deepfake technology to create personalized campaigns with Shah Rukh Khan and Ranveer Singh for each user. 

What’s in store for 2022

The experts believe that AI will get more relevant and more evident across marketing functions in the coming year. 

Xapads Media VP Sales & Marketing Alok Pandey says, “The coming few months will be all about Increased Data and Advanced Data processing for Predictive Personalization, the use of more augmented and virtual reality applications by fashion brands, switching to a hands-free way of data input while on the move. These are just a few teasers of what the next 12 months have to offer, then it is infinity and beyond!”

Desai adds, “What I’m excited to see  is the advent of Decision Intelligence (DI). One of the newest artificial intelligence concepts takes many current business optimizations a step farther by using AI models to analyze wide-ranging sets of commercial data. These analyses are used to predict future outcomes for everything. How that helps us in the days to come in running agencies and how open we are to accepting it, is something I am looking forward to.” 

Bhansali highlights, “As we’ve seen in the Cadbury campaigns, AI is really scaling the experience side of a digital campaign, going beyond website banners and social media posts. It’s about creating a branded experience online that is super personalised, that is rich with content and extremely immersive and is being informed by artificial intelligence. We will see augmented reality and artificial intelligence coming together and even in-camera campaigns like what Google Lens is already doing. It will just be a matter of time before we see branding leveraging this medium.” 

Further, both Bhansali and Rajagopalan showed some concerns regarding privacy issues and how it will impact the use of AI in marketing. 

Bhansali notes, “The privacy landscape is changing quite significantly with Apple leading this charge. It’s not only about disabling cookies but also enabling users to hide their IP addresses, email addresses. So there are going to be a lot of challenges in terms of how AI will track campaign successes in a multi-device workflow. At best, it will have to leverage the learning it has had to make educated guesses.”

On the other hand, Rajagopalan asks whether brands and marketers realise where to draw the line when it comes to accessing consumer data and for what purposes and in what capacities can it be used. He quips, “I think privacy is the bigger concern that needs to be addressed as AI can have as much negative impact as positive.” 

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