This year, Artificial Intelligence has the ability to transform the marketing and advertising ecosystem as we know it. The World’s top 3 “Cool Vendors in AI for Marketing” were released in Gartner’s annual review October 5th, 2020, naming SoMin.ai, Cheq, and Qwarry as the world’s most innovative solutions utilizing AI to solve marketing’s biggest pain points. Previously, Gartner’s list featured Zoom, Movie, Cybereason, Snowflake, Gong, Datorama, Wrike, and many other leading SaaS unicorns.
Pivoting and Scaling with AI in the New Digital Economy
In 2020, businesses flocked to digital solutions in fear of the sudden shifts in the economy with COVID-19. Businesses were forced to pivot online seemingly overnight as social distancing and isolating became the norm. Thankfully, the internet has been built to a point where it can support this migration and create opportunities for businesses to scale far beyond what they could imagine in the past. Through social media, e-commerce, logistics, e-wallets, and many other solutions, there is now a digital ecosystem driven by artificial intelligence that supports the global economy.
Curating Your Own Traffic
When it comes to advertising, how do we know if the person behind the computer is a real person? In 2019 it was estimated that 40% of online traffic was non-human. This is a problem for businesses because if we cannot rely on analytics then our decisions become baseless. There is a conflict of interest when the same platform that is trying to sell their traffic is also in charge of monitoring their own traffic. This makes business susceptible to ad-fraud which according to a white paper from AdAge and Spider Labs, takes away $66 billion per year, globally.
Companies like Cheq based in Israel are giving the power of AI to businesses so that they can curate their own traffic. Through its platform, businesses protect their ad spend by verifying if the people who watch their videos or click on their ads are live humans.
Current Targeting Doesn’t Work
The online world is dominated by machines. Now that so many businesses rely on it, it has never been more important to understand that it also has hidden flaws. It is hard to comprehend, mainly because there are so many black-box algorithms. There is also a lack of transparency which in turn raises a lot of questions. And as it turns out, this is one of the biggest issues of the internet.
Behind the doors of tech giants like Facebook and Google sits machines that consistently profile users to determine who we are, our preferences, and behaviors. They collect billions of data points on audiences and monetize that data with advertising. The problem is it’s very hard to align an audience made of data points when we don’t understand what those data points are. Ad platforms try to solve this by simplifying the process to a level of basic comprehension, but when they do that, the inevitable results are generic audiences. This leads businesses to compete for the same people which increases the price of that audience. Ultimately this places businesses at the mercy of these ad platforms.
SoMin Serves as a Translator between Businesses and Ad Platforms
SoMin, which is an emerging company on Gartner’s Cool Vendors in AI of 2020 has made that possible. They have created an artificial intelligence that trains itself constantly on ad platform audiences. This enables it to serve as a translator between the business and the ad platforms. The business gives it a campaign, and it breaks the audience profiles into different machine-level permutations. It then tests all of these profiles with the ad platform to find what works best. The results through their case studies show a 30-400% increase in performance through all kinds of business objectives.
The Future of AI and Advertising Is Promising
Creating personalized communication that reaches the right people at the right place and time is the dream of many businesses. This is the promise of programmatic or behavioral targeting, but as wondrous as that sounds, it has also raised a lot of questions. Tim Hwang, an ex-Google employee, says through the book “Subprime Attention Crisis” that this ad model is built on fiction. There are even multiple research papers that show the accuracy of behavioral targeting is extremely poor. Amidst all this controversy there is one clear problem; we don’t know what to believe.
Now companies like Qwarry are using AI to try a different approach. By using AI to contextualize websites they’re giving businesses transparency on where their ads go to. This also allows them to create cookieless targeting which escapes the complexities of the lumascape.
AI Has the Power to Create Better Marketplaces
Knowing the who, where, when, and how maybe simple questions but they are essential to how successful businesses operate. Fundamentals that if left unanswered, leave businesses vulnerable. Black boxes are not healthy for the sustainability of online businesses but thankfully AI as the viable solution is becoming more available with companies such as Somin. We can only hope that these technologies gain traction and continue to thrive in the digital ecosystem. It puts more power in the hands of businesses as opposed to the ad platforms and that can only lead to a more competitive and free marketplace.
Originally published in KIVO DAILY