5 April 2023

Feel the fear, and do AI anyway

Kat Jackson
Head of Client Services

Five takes to challenge AI and agency thinking

Five takes to challenge AI and agency thinking

Why the time is now to change the perspective and make AI work for you – top learnings from the recent Agency Hackers ‘The Robots are(n’t) Coming’ event, writes Kat Jackson (right).

*Source: AGENCY HACKERS to view article

1 - Flip your perspective

If you purely see AI as a threat, fear will stop you from seeing the opportunity. AI can spur on new ways of thinking.The first talk of the day came from a content agency, showing what is and isn’t currently possible in AI text generation. Hidden amid the concerns about cheap and easy text generation is the erosion of value when it comes to copy. Words may always have been cheap, but when it comes to content, text use falls into two camps.

The advent of AI means that basic SEO copy as the purview of people will die away. The kind of copy that is only functioning so that spiders and bots can find it – will fall behind. Crafted copy will see a resurgence, including a greater value being placed back on to journalism – sparked by greater discovery for quality reads, with personality embedded. This session even predicted a drive back to paying for news as a result – frankly, great news for quality journalism. 

Above: Image created using AI

2 - Cost – is still a question

Most agencies proved least pretty coy about any AI use when it comes to chats with clients. Some forward thinkers are ‘teaching the client to fish’ – leveraging the inbuilt strength of agencies to stay ahead of trends and teaching people how to prompt and refine results. The role of the agency has also sat long term in getting the best brief – both from the client and into the AI. 

Some also see new generative tools as a driver for clients to move from project-by-project commissions to more retainer work, as brands will have a strong visual style and identity which needs to be consistently reflected in prompting.

For others, AI doesn’t translate naturally to rate card costs. As the process is currently highly iterative, getting the best result is less a ‘pick from the menu’ charge-out, and more hourly rate/ experience based.

AI needn’t be an issue with procurement and the traditional views of seeing their role as cutting costs from fees and pitches, as procurement often also have briefs to drive innovation and forge new paths within their organisation. 

3 - Don’t take AI results at face value

Most tools still need training, especially when it comes to established societal inequalities. One example proved the male-dominant results to AI prompts around images of ‘strong business leader’. This will change over time depending on the tool’s evolution and base of data it draws on, but for now, it’s a very real concern for DEI. 

The issue of copyright still looms large. In imagery this comes down to how transformative any changes to established and recognised IP will be – essentially how far away from a rights-managed image has the AI moved? In text this is much harder to define as it may not be immediately apparent if an AI has pulled from competitor messaging to build a draft, for example. Double and triple checking is still the watchword when it comes to reviewing text.

4 - The future is fusion

See AI less as a tool and more something to intrinsically weave into a business’ processes. Creative outputs from agencies are still about the fusion of virtual elements and the real world.

Sometimes this can be deployed to great effect such as the recent WWF World Without Nature campaign, which created a new paradigm of creative, open sourced rollout by asking a band of AI creatives to generate and share their own perspectives of what a world without nature would look like.

The impact of the striking images combined with collective shares from visual creatives propelled the content into sharebait territory and beyond. This shows how prompting generative AI can not only stimulate the creative process but also be deployed and baked into the execution – but in no way is it driving the whole creative process. 

CLICK HERE to read the WWF article

5 - Age and experience is an asset

Several people spoke about how the experience from years in creativity meant that older strategists and creatives could prompt AI imagery more fluidly, as they were more exposed to challenging briefs as well as used to directing shoots and providing direction on visual styles. This may only be a short term benefit as more people learn how to get the best from prompting.

Still, it’s encouraging that AI is best directed by older brains, as it should overcome any hurdles in engaging experienced creatives in getting to grips with new techniques. Likewise, as younger entrants learn how to get the best from AI engines, it will simultaneously be teaching critical strategic skills with benefits beyond the bots.  

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