Artificial Intelligence (AI) seems to be constantly expanding possibilities in the advertising industry. We use it to make our jobs easier—from automated processes and improved customer experiences, to audience targeting and even content creation. Being part of a team that creates content for our clients, I was curious to dig deeper and find out more about the type (and quality) of the content being created by machines. Can artificial intelligence do as good of a job as humans?
Developing creative content is methodical and collaborative. At its core, the process involves taking in as much information and inspiration as possible and distilling it down to a concise message that is on strategy and emotionally relevant to a defined audience. It involves lateral thinking and a great deal of back and forth discussion with other people. Can we really take the human element out of this process?
Using machine learning to develop creative content isn’t totally new. In 2016, SONY used AI to compose a Beatles-inspired song, Daddy’s Car. A machine used a total of 13,000 songs to create an original melody and harmony. From there, French composer Benoît Carré arranged and produced the song, and wrote the lyrics. So, while not entirely robot-driven, the AI definitely gets at least a production credit for its hard work in writing the original piece.
In a more recent example of AI doing some heavy lifting, digital agency space150 developed a new song modeled after rap icon Travis Scott‘s signature sound. The company spent two weeks inputting lyrics into a text generator model, allowing the AI to learn his aural likeness. While the verses were being formulated, the agency used additional programs to create melodies and percussion arrangements.
The end result, a song titled Jack Park Canny Dope Man, contains fan-favorite vocal ad-libs “It’s Lit” and “Straight Up,” along with a some nonsensical lyrics like “Pop some suits on any stay of freeze” and “I’m the best park stance special space.”
While the project wasn’t designed for any particular client, the agency wanted to test the bounds of the technology in order to determine where it might fit into brand work in the future.
In an example that’s a bit more relevant to us as an advertising agency, in 2018 Lexus programmed a machine to write the world’s first AI-scripted ad. They used data on 15 years of award-winning luxury campaigns, as well as information about the brand and human emotion to create a 60-second script. It was directed by Oscar winner Kevin Macdonald, whose work includes The Last King of Scotlandand the Whitney Houston biopic Whitney.
Although the story is disjointed and a little confusing, the ad seems to resonate on a human level, raising the possibility that while a computer might not be able to understand human emotions, it has the capacity to replicate them and create emotional connections.
While artificial intelligence has advanced to the point where it’s able to generate creative content, the technology’s output is still very experimental. The technology doesn’t seem ready to handle a creative project on its own without quite a bit of human supervision. I could see creative teams using AI to augment the creative process. It seems to have tremendous potential as another tool we could use to generate ideas. It will be interesting to monitor this technology and see different ways it is being used to create content in the future.