NEW YORK: Brands as diverse as Chase Bank and pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline have joined agencies in a new group, the Cognitive Media Council, which aims to better understand how artificial intelligence (AI) can apply to marketing strategy.

Convened by The Weather Company, which was acquired by IBM in early 2016 and which already uses IBM's Watson supercomputer to help create ads, the Council will address some of the challenges thrown up by the new technology, including issues around data and privacy.

Andrew Swinand, North America CEO, Leo Burnett, who attended the inaugural meeting of the group, told Adweek that data is "like soup du jour" – in that brands are talking about it even if they're not actually using it.

"Right now in the marketplace, there is just this overwhelming amount of noise," he said. "If I told you it's 38 degrees in Chicago today, interesting, but is it relevant for you? And what are you going to do with that?

"There is a lot of irrelevant data in the market being shared that's not actually important in decision making," he argued. "What's really interesting with AI is real-time decision making informed by data."

For him, the future will be about "who can best apply data to creativity that has the power to transform human behaviour".

From a brand perspective, "AI is going to change everything", according to Susan Canavari, chief brand officer at Chase Bank, who was also at the meeting.

"I think the hard thing for all companies is marrying customer expectations of what we should and do know about them with the experience we give them in a way that protects their privacy and their data," she said.

One of the advantages of Watson is that it uses both structured and unstructured data to learn – and that, suggested Jordan Bitterman, CMO at The Weather Company, "throws a whole new wrinkle into things" and, potentially, creates "a filter for thinking about data differently".

Data sourced from Adweek; additional content by WARC staff