2019 is expected to be the key year in the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for the advertising sales and planning industry with expectations of unprecedented changes in store. Artificial Intelligence to most seems as though it is at the very cutting-edge of our technological capabilities. However, what if you were to be told that AI was first discussed in an open-air forum as far back as 1956 at the Dartmouth Summer Research Project? This 8-week brainstorming session organized by “the father of artificial intelligence” John McCarthy, set in motion the study of a field which, after 60 plus years, is starting to bear fruit and find its way into our daily lives, often without us being aware of its presence.

Stefan Ropte, Product Managing Director with ADvendio, has almost 20 years of experience of working in IT and project management. With his key focus for ADvendio being product development. Stefan has always kept a keen eye on innovation, taking a future-focused view on new technological developments that could be applied to the media sales industry. We spoke with Stefan to discuss his thoughts on artificial intelligence, and how its introduction to support media sales could affect the industry as a whole.

How Do You Think Artificial Intelligence Will Change the Media Industry over the Coming Years?

Many advertising processes will become more accurate, faster and cheaper in the future with AI. However, I feel this change will take a number of years to become standard practice, which is often the case with any disruptive technology.

In today’s market decisions are based primarily on experience and gut-feeling. Some processes currently carried out by humans will be taken over by software and AI, such as media planning, sales support, product and price recommendations and predictions for campaign results. Decision-making will follow the same pattern but will be more streamlined and data-driven. Industry and market experience, as well as gut-feeling, cannot be replaced by artificial intelligence but with the use of AI, that experience and instinct can be backed up and supported by in-depth analysis.

We are already able to see the difference that data-driven media sales are having on purchasing patterns. The change to programmatic sales has seen a shift from the old world of low volume, high-value transactions to a dramatic increase in the number of targeted ‘low-value’ transactions. This is all thanks to programmatic and the capabilities of big-data. The next level of this is full automation.

Artificial Intelligence will replace tasks not jobs – Stefan Ropte

What Is Holding Back the Widespread Use of AI Within the MediaSales Industry? 

At present, the comprehensive use of AI within the industry is being held back by the conventional constraints of new technology implementation such as a lack of understanding of the full breadth of use-cases associated with the technology, perceived high costs for first adopters and the need for further research and development. The benefits of AI are clear for all to see. Generating greater value for the same amount of effort and making smarter, data-driven decisions without having to heavily invest in human resources to extract that added value are huge advantages for any company. For the advertising industry, it is still early days but there are signs that full adoption isn’t too far away with the increased use of automation in the form of programmatic.

Furthermore, with continued research leading to a greater understanding of the technology and more time spent refining its use within the industry, artificial intelligence is predicted to become an essential component for the future of advertising.

Where Can AI Help to Improve Aspects of the Media Industry in Its Current State?

The key benefits of AI for the advertising sales industry has got to be cost reduction, intelligent process automation, and the ability to develop an in-depth understanding of your target customer and their preferences over their lifetime. AI should make the market more efficient by reducing costs for publishers, which in turn should reduce costs, and churn for advertisers.

Salesforce Einstein is a great example of how the industry can benefit from such a tool. Einstein AI helps media sales companies to automate repetitive and time-consuming processes and make predictions based on AI-powered analysis to deliver a more personalized experience for all customers. One of the most tangible benefits for media sales companies will be the ability of Einstein AI to analyze large amounts of historic campaign data across all mediums and make recommendations. Couple this with Lightning Flows available from the Salesforce AppExchange®to automate laborious processes and increase productivity while retaining a data-driven and personalized experience for customers.

Will Media Companies Who Currently Do Not Use Artificial Intelligence Have a Chance to Stay Competitive in the Future? 

Artificial Intelligence has the potential to give media companies a competitive advantage in terms of cost reduction and process efficiency. Faster decision making, based upon lightning-quick analysis of massive amounts of quality data stored within a cross-organizational system will cut out huge amounts of tedious manual analysis. That time, previously spent analyzing mountains of data can then be better used focusing on managing client relations and closing deals. Companies that effectively utilize AI will be in the best position to reach their target audience in the most cost-effective manner.

Companies who choose to ignore the benefits of implementing AI will still have to meet the expectations of the same groups of users, without the easily accessible hard-data to guide their recommendations. As costs fall for companies making effective use of artificial intelligence fall without sacrificing insight & analysis, others may be left behind, unable to compete with reducing margins.

What Are Your Predictions for the Future of Artificial Intelligence in the Media Industry?

Step by step AI will begin to support the functions mentioned previously; media planning, sales support, product & price recommendations as well as campaign result predictions. I predict that this should become the industry norm by 2021. This shift could potentially lead to changes in the market structure with improved publisher margins, reducing costs for advertisers, meaning more value, less waste and a more difficult market landscape for intermediaries & middle-men.

The Verdict

It may have taken nearly 60 years to bring artificial intelligence to the point of getting to general market use, however, do not expect it to take even a tenth of that time to become an integral part of the media sales industry across the board. The promise of cheaper, faster and more accurate processes will ensure AI gets an opportunity to showcase what it can do for the industry, but the full extent of its capabilities are yet to be fully realized.

We recognize that artificial intelligence will be a huge boost to day-to-day ad sales processes. These processes are highly repeatable and based upon analyzing the data generated from hundreds and thousands of previous iterations of similar campaigns or sales interactions, which is where AI will be most valuable to the media sales industry in the short-term.

Artificial Intelligence promises to change the media sales industry substantially, with expected reductions in operating costs which we would hope will lead to improved market efficiency. Staying competitive will be key, we can only wait to see if the early-adopters of artificial intelligence can capitalize on their advantage.