A new report from Forrester Research details how artificial intelligence (AI) and intelligent automation are poised to reshape agency teams and the work they do for brands. From enabling production at scale with CGI to boosting marketing performance with data-driven creative, the report—titled “The Agency Workforce 2023: Automation And AI Will Reshape Media And Creative Agencies” by Jay Pattisall and JP Gownder—details some of the strategies that brands and their partners will rely on into years to come.
While Forrester’s findings anticipate that technology will automate 11% of the agency workforce by 2023, we believe it’s important to recognize that automation should be used as a tool to support and enhance human creativity, not to reduce jobs or overhead. On our own team, this viewpoint is realized by aligning creativity and technological expertise to help brands deliver more effective, emotionally resonant content and experiences for audiences.
Automation Should Augment Creativity, Not Replace It
It’s easy to assume that marketing automation hinders creativity; it conjures the image of relentless (and invasive) ad retargeting, and the fear of algorithms limiting creative expression or conditioning consumer behavior in harmful ways. While valid, these concerns focus solely on what happens when automation diminishes the human element in the production and delivery of creative—not how it can enhance that same human approach.
You would expect agencies to be excited by automation and AI. But, ironically, an industry famous for innovation is holding back the tide.
In our own adoption (and sometimes even invention) of automation tools, we’ve sought to combine intelligence with empathy to augment creative expertise and discover transformative outcomes. Forrester calls the result of combining human intuition with machine prowess “intelligent creativity,” which is defined as “A process of creative problem-solving in which teams of creators and strategists conceive, design, produce, and activate business solutions with the assistance of AI, intelligent automation, and data.”
Uncovering New Opportunities Through Data
Traditionally, creative teams have long gathered qualitative data to inform creative ideas and user experiences—think of focus groups, interviews and surveys that offer insight into audiences’ needs and minds. Yet others have become over-reliant on dynamic creative optimization alone, a programmatic advertising technique that may appear to optimize performance on the surface but may also limit diversity of ideas and the sense of spontaneity that unlocks new creative ideas.
While automation can help marketers uncover consumer insights at speed, creative teams must strike a careful balance between what data tells them and their own intuition. In their report, Pattisall and Gownder note that “only 40% of US online adults indicate that they find advertising a useful way to learn about new products and services. Instead, let data play its role in fueling intelligence and providing a base of knowledge on which analysts, strategists, creators, and marketers can build.”
This fuels our approach to creative strategy. “People are multifaceted. If you want to truly understand your audience, your approach to gathering insights needs to be multifaceted, too,” says Val Nguyen, Chief Strategy Officer at Decoded, a full-funnel marketing, advertising and design company that recently joined Media.Monks. She believes in applying data management platforms in a way that helps discover and open up new opportunities to engage with consumers—not drill down on a single, top-performing solution.
We don’t brief creative solely to resonate and perform—we consider how we can learn from it, how it can generate new data.
Supercharging In-House Teams
Forrester’s report also discusses how AI and robust automation tools are helping brands and their creative partners adapt to larger trends in the industry, including the rise of in-housing. Pattisall and Gownder draw on data from the 2019 IHAF/Forrester In-House Leadership and Culture Survey to note that “72% of organizations have insourced some marketing functions, a 68% increase over the past decade.”
Automation has been key to our own approach to helping brands gain more control and efficiency with their media buying by bringing it in-house. This includes automated bidding exchanges to buy addressable media offered by our data&digital media pillar. In taking Sprint’s media buying in-house, for example, we helped the brand save $6 million in annual costs and increased conversions by 99%. Artificial intelligence and automation will further help brands meet similar success and become less reliant on agencies.
Enabling Flexibility and Content at Scale
Finally, Pattisall and Gownder anticipate that “As agencies digitize, it becomes easier and more flexible to work with contingent talent rather than FTEs. Why? Because the future workforce will be adaptive, able to burst up or down rapidly.” We agree that flexibility will become increasingly important in the way that brands and teams work; our API model is designed to connect teams across skill sets as needed, helping them scale efforts up or down at a moment’s notice.
Game engines let brands create and adapt assets with ease and speed.
One way you can see this working is by our unique combination of artists, technologists and developers. The Labs.Monks, who interface with categories across our team to help them seize opportunities enabled by emerging technology, experimented with a tool powered by AI that makes it easy for anyone to create a high volume of dancing animations populating a music video. In India, our Real-Time.Monks use the Unreal Engine, developed by Epic Games, to automate global content at scale. Tools like these, which cut time and help creatives focus on more fulfilling work, help offer the flexibility brands will need to stay competitive in a fast-moving world.
The world is changing—and as makers and innovators, we couldn’t be more excited about it. When used responsibly, AI and automation become tools that help brands take control of their marketing and better serve their audiences through emotionally resonant content at scale and empower teams to explore more creative opportunities.
Make our digital heart beat faster
Get our newsletter with inspiration on the latest trends, projects and much more.