Contributor: Ricky Bacon | Critical Mass
Contributor: Ricky Bacon | Critical Mass
It may be early, but it feels like artificial intelligence could be one of the industry stories of the year.
The story really started to take off with the launch of ChatGPT late last year. The tool from Open AI—the same company that brought us Dall-E 2 for AI image generation (see lead art, above)—has amazed people with its ability to quickly create readable, intelligent, very-close-to-human quality copy based on prompts from users.
The potential is enormous in many different fields and professions, and copywriting and advertising is being mentioned as one of those most likely to be affected—and soon.
We asked a handful of creatives how AI and ChatGPT could change advertising. We got back a lot of great answers, so we ran part I on Friday and complete the project with some more answers today.
First, a temperature check. Are you hot or cold on AI and ChatGPT? Why do you feel that way?
Crystalyn Stuart-Loayza, chief digital officer, Citizen Relations: We call it AI augmentation and define it as any artificially assisted technology that augments the work of humans. In general, we’re super-keen on AI Augmentation for two major use cases:
Automation: Allowing for speed and scale, AI augmentation is perfect for making human work faster.
Original IP: Functions we couldn’t previously accomplish because the work was too laborious, or the tech didn’t exist.
Joseph Nanni, executive creative director, III Inc.: I am hot to experiment with AI image generation and ChatGPT, but I’m lukewarm with the results. As a compulsive creator who suffers(?) from novelty-seeking behaviour, it’s great to have the ability to rapidly test and develop ideas without relying on co-creators. Although at this stage in AI’s development, I wouldn’t lead with the output until the next wave, which I understand will be released early this year. I will continue to use them like any web crawler, spelling/grammar checker, or image search, and kind of like a creative sparring partner.
Ari Elkouby, chief creative officer, Wunderman Thompson Canada: Like any emerging technology, AI offers exciting new possibilities for creatives and marketers within the industry if they’re willing to invest the time to understand it and learn where it’s helpful and where it’s not.
Eric Vienna, creative director, innovation team, Huge: 100% hot. AI tools provide driven people and ambitious companies with paradigm-shifting opportunities to help creatives get out of their comfort zone. They are collaborators helping us expand our potential.
Ricky Bacon, VP Technology, Critical Mass: We’ve hit the inflection point of deep learning-based AI turning experiencing exponential growth, especially the open-source platforms. ChatGPT is a great example—while not open-source, it is widely available with a usable UX, and had one million users one week after launch. They’re expected to hit one billion users in 2023. Most people are being introduced to this type of tech for the first time, so we should expect interesting and novel uses for the platform to emerge in the coming months.
What most impressed you with ChatGPT? Where do you think it’s lacking?
Stuart-Loayza: ChatGPT is pretty darn impressive. In fact, it’s why so many people are finally talking about GPT technology in mainstream media. It has a terrific ability to remember what users have said, allow for corrections, and decline inappropriate requests. However, on the downside, we know there’s a lot of misinformation generated, sometimes inadvertently biased or potentially harmful content, and the historical data bias of the working model. It’s likely these areas will be sorted over time, and that’s what’s most exciting about the category of AI augmentation overall—how well we apply an ethical and long-term lens to the technology.
Nanni: I’ve tried headline generation, body copy, short fiction, scripts, some logo inputs and basic visuals. The return speed is impressive, but the results are relatively derivative, especially in writing. What it does expose is how much of our communication is surface and basic. I think we all have to try a little harder when expressing ourselves, and not simply communicate but connect.
Elkouby: Image generating AI can help creatives with everything from visually prototyping concepts which would take hours and costly investment to bring to life, to storytelling capabilities like “Remastered Memories” (Developed by WT Canada).
Vienna: We’ve all been experimenting. The upside is it can explore competently different streams of thought quickly. Then you can curate what’s best and put your human touch on it. Downside? It’s missing the nuance of humanity… for now.
Bacon: [I’m most impressed by the] ease of use, thoroughness, and its conversational nature, are most impressive. It’s lacking in its ability to make facts up and its confidence in doing so. It’s clever in those fictions, but it means someone using the tool as a learning engine still needs to double-check the answers. The breadth of uses is interesting, too. From algorithms to novellas, the type of content it can synthesize is quite diverse.
How do you believe ChatGPT (and future iterations of AI) will change advertising/communications and creativity?
Stuart-Loayza: We’re big fans of the current use in ChatGPT, but have also been using platforms like midjourney.ai and Dall-E 2 for design, and Frase.io, copy.ai, draft.co and EditorNinja for everything from automated briefing to editing.
We believe ChatGPT is one of many tools and resources humans can use to augment communications, and that the future is in both knitting together current tech, and building/training custom solutions that will deliver best-in-class ideas and work at scale. In the race towards efficiency, AI is a critical facet, and one we must learn to harness rather than fear.
Here are some ways we’re leveraging the tech now and in the future: Augmented content production, user intent research, finding content gaps, brainstorming, AI briefing/ideation, AI editing/QA, scaling drafts, personalization, on-demand troubleshooting, automated desk research, community management, proprietary templates, vendor ID and research, targeted pitches, events/social research and responsive content.
Nanni: Human experience will become more valuable. XM, physical objects, handmade pieces, personal perspectives, and real interaction will be sought out—”human-made” will be at a premium. As generated creativity becomes more ubiquitous, AI will also have to evolve beyond what we’ve asked to see, to more than we can imagine. When it extends to animation, film and video, and 3D printing technology, and improves in terms of speed and materiality, we’re looking at a revolution across industries.
Elkouby: Chat GPT is equally helpful at aiding creatives in completing tasks that would require countless hours to craft or research. But anyone looking for a quick fix to their long copy creative briefs should look elsewhere. Like most advancements in technology, its true value is yet to be realized and requires training, fact checking and manipulating to make useful.
Vienna: We’ll likely see the emergence of a writing style distinct to AI tools and platforms. We’re already able to clearly distinguish between generative art platforms. More broadly, creatives that begin to augment their practices with these tools will find more time for the big ideas, and become shepherds of broader individual thought.
Bacon: It will be more transformative than digital evolution was to print. These emerging AI tools will touch every discipline, every industry, every type of media. And they will likely invent some new ones. Workflows will be optimized, creative spaces expanded, and more. It’s an exciting time.
Specifically, in relation to advertising and commercial creativity, what can’t ChatGPT (or AI) do that only humans can?
Stuart-Loayza: Today, there are many areas humans still lead, with AI augmentation still relegated to a supporting role. But over time, AI will improve and change the way humans augment tech. Here are a few places we believe humans will always lead:
Ideas, for one, are born from human lived experience and diversity of thinking. Over time, AI can help support and replicate parts, but human ideation will likely endure.
Forecasting and predictions is another. While data is getting better at forecasted outcomes, humans are complex, and free will is hard to make binary. As populations shift, culture evolves and people hold more of their data to themselves, human marketers will continue to help brands evolve towards the future.
Nanni: We still need arbiters, evaluators, and creative directors. We can generate creative ’til the cows come home, but we still need people to select what’s good, what’s on strategy, etc. We will always have the challenges of identifying what’s imitation, duplication, and original. That said, I think we should embrace the tools and give them to creatives, rather than figure out how we replace skill sets—like if Boston Dynamics hooks up with Boston Consulting in some kind of Terminator/Office Space scenario. Instead, let’s see how much better we can make the work with the technology.
Elkouby: The technology hasn’t driven a new vehicle, or gone on vacation, or any of the other lived human experiences that we aspire to do or can use as inspiration to generate compelling work. Like most things, this is a moment in time, and may evolve to become more relatable and insightful. But at the end of the day, the big idea is still the currency of our industry, and no version of AI has proven capable of generating one.
Vienna: ChatGPT can’t sell its ideas to clients.
Bacon: AI are just tools. Very powerful tools, but just tools. A word processor didn’t replace the copywriter. Image editing tools didn’t replace art directors. AI is the same. They are tools that will integrate into our daily workflows to empower people to be more creative, more insightful, and more productive. It’s an exciting time to see these technologies emerge and hold on for the ride.