How AI Can Support Your Creative Process

4 minute read

The organizers of the Social Media Baltimore (SoMeBa) meetup are brave.

When the instinctual human response to artificial intelligence is fear and anxiety (“The robots are taking over! They’re coming for our jobs!”), these folks sought more information. They asked: 

What is AI? How are marketers currently using it?
Where is the technology headed?

We also think the SoMeBa organizers are smart because they turned to our very own Director of Emerging Technologies, Tim Kulp, for answers. With his trademark humanizing tech approach and some wise words from Thomas Alva Edison, Tim helped the SoMeBa audience reframe artificial intelligence, its capabilities and opportunities.

“I know it seems counterintuitive, but I firmly believe artificial intelligence is ultimately going to make how we work and what we produce more human,” Tim asserts. “Right now, AI’s job is to bring you the pile of junk you need to invent, create and innovate.”

That’s exactly what IBM’s Watson did for 20th Century Fox and its 2016 sci-fi thriller Morgan. In a textbook example of machine learning, Watson analyzed scenes from 100 horror movie trailers and then went through the 90-minute Morgan to select and deliver six minutes of video for a human creative team to edit into a coherent narrative. Headlines gave Watson all the credit for the first AI-created movie trailer, and it did cut project time down from weeks to hours, but it was still real people who took Watson’s pile of junk and turned it into a compelling two-minute movie ad.

Today, you don’t have to be a top Hollywood studio to enlist AI support for your marketing efforts. There are several toolkits readily available. Adobe Sensei is a unified framework of AI services powering the Adobe Cloud Platform that can quickly recognize, match and filter millions of images and then help you edit them. (This video demos some of the ways Sensei is making graphic designers’ lives easier.) “Current AI functionality often takes the form of little add-on features. It isn’t yet a total overhaul of how we work,” Tim observes.

Tim also directed SoMeBa attendees to a fun, free beta web app called AI Writer. The site promises to write your article for you; just provide the title! But it actually emails you a list of sentences on your topic and the websites they came from – a free, fast bibliography service delivering your own customized pile of junk. As the human, you get to use those returned sentences to jumpstart your creative process, stitching the ideas into compelling content.

You can use AI Writer search results to draft a content marketing piece, but SoMeBa planner and Creativation Marketing CMO Sharon Mostyn has found it more useful for ideation. She now recommends using it in conjunction with Google Alerts to gain context on today’s hot topics. “It gives you an idea what people are saying on a given topic so you can either chime in and agree, or chime in and disagree – differentiate yourself,” Sharon explains.

Of course, content creation is only a fraction of the marketing workload. In this era of big data, a marketer’s “pile of junk” usually takes the form of all the info collected about consumers. The task then becomes matching content to customers. AI is being used to personalize websites in real-time based on what is known about the user before they hit the site and then how they use the site once they get there. “If you’ve been identified as a young mom or sports enthusiast, you are seeing different words and images than someone tagged as a grandparent or history buff surfing the site at the same time,” says Tim.

Full-service marketing agencies like Creativation Marketing match content to consumers, but they also match tools to clients. Sharon’s biggest takeaway from Tim’s presentation was the explosion of options AI has brought to marketing. She gives the example of clients in regulated industries like banking, insurance and health care. “They can’t necessarily do real-time social [media] because there are so many restrictions on what can be said. But if you set it up in a chatbot, you can get those messages preapproved.”

Sharon is a Google-certified marketing professional. This SoMeBa meetup underscored what she already knew; the CMO role is evolving rapidly, and tech savvy is a must for leveraging artificial intelligence, maximizing efficiency and achieving results.

“Our clients hire us because we are marketing subject matter experts. I may not know everything there is to know about AI, but I know the guy to talk to,” grins Sharon. “Tim’s style of presentation is energizing. I always learn something, and I always come away with something new to think about.”