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IBM uses AI on programmatic ads

News, 19 July 2017
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CHICAGO: IBM, the technology company, has seen major benefits from applying artificial intelligence to its programmatic advertising efforts.

Jon Iwata, IBM’s SVP/Marketing and Communications, discussed this topic at the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) 2017 Masters of B2B Marketing Conference.

More specifically, he provided details of how the company has utilised Watson, its cognitive computing platform, to assess the outcomes delivered by programmatic advertising.

“We’re investing heavily into programmatic,” Iwata said. (For more details, read WARC’s exclusive report: IBM’s Watson pushes AI marketing.)

Although this channel possesses numerous strengths, he asserted, it simultaneously is characterised by a certain “murkiness of the programmatic engines and how they work”.

This lack of transparency represents a stumbling block for brands seeking to understand the impact of their automated adspend – and is an area where Watson can offer a slate of powerful action points.

“We had Watson analyze all of our bids, all of the data, and all of the outcomes,” Iwata informed delegates at the ANA event, which was held in Chicago.

And the results of applying this smart solution to the programmatic problem were significant. “We achieved a 25% improvement in effectiveness by applying Watson to programmatic,” he reported.

More broadly, the “phenomenon of data” – and the ability of resources such as Watson to translate these inputs into actionable insights – is now moving brands towards what Iwata called “the long-awaited promise of personalised marketing”.

Deeper, data-driven knowledge of consumers or business-to-business decision makers, the IBM marketer continued, is helping drive this trend.

“They are permitting us to capture … everything they do online, but also their movements in the real world – where they walk; where they drive; how they sleep. They tell us who influences them, and who they influence,” said Iwata,

But communications activity premised on information of this kind must be based on a true value exchange, where both parties ultimately enjoy positive payoffs.

“It’s fair trade. We give up a little bit of privacy in return for service, for convenience, to save time, to have a question answered, or to learn something,” he said.

“And it’s a fair trade as long as the trade is equal – as long as we receive some value or benefit in exchange for that information that we’re allowing others to know and to have. In fact, they’re coming to expect it.”

Data sourced from WARC

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