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GenAI – Things to Consider

Christine Downton - Observatory International Christine Downton Managing Partner, London July 9, 2024

Like many others in our industry the Observatory International is taking a keen interest in AI and the impact it could have for all of us.  AI has the potential to impact every stage of the communications process so it’s no surprise that in our work with brands on agency modelling and agency pitch projects we’ve noted a significant interest in agency AI capabilities.

We’ve noted three paths for agencies and their approach to tackling AI:

  • Substantial investment – particularly from the Holding Companies and large networks investing hundreds of millions of pounds/dollars in making their own processes more efficient and working with willing clients to test and learn
  • Full immersion in AI by a few agency groups to embrace the opportunity and position themselves at the heart of AI business transformation for clients
  • Pragmatic caution – recognising the opportunity for AI, but putting protocols, guidance and training in place to protect themselves and their clients from potential risks and unknowns that AI might trigger.

A 2023 survey by the WFA highlighted that over three quarters of brand owners are using or plan to use generative AI in their marketing activities.  The interest in AI’s potential being mirrored by concerns about potential risks with 8 in 10 brands having developed or in the process of developing internal processes on the use of GenAI.

Here are just some areas to consider when approaching the use of AI in your marcomms function:

  • Understanding who is using it, how and why. The same applied to the early days of Social Media, and then Programmatic so nothing new there, but important lessons learned.
  • Ensuring transparency of the use of AI through your supply chain – including any 3rd party suppliers.
  • Understanding the hidden environmental impacts and how might that impact corporate sustainability KPIs? Google’s reported increase in data centre energy consumption being a high profile example of that.
  • Who owns the IP – agency or brand e.g. for Prompts as well as outputs?
  • What are the implications for agency contracts and remuneration – does anything need to change?
  • What infrastructure and processes need to change to really optimise the use of AI?
  • Where to focus effort – with AI offering the opportunity to transform every aspect of the communications process where’s the best place to start?

There’s plenty to think about.  If you would like an informal chat about how AI might impact your marketing organisation and agency ecosystem do get in contact.

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