Creative automation? Leave it the boring bits
Marketing innovation can make us think of clever campaigns leveraging new technologies, but the not-so-sexy side of technology innovation is that it can also just be about creating efficiencies in the creative process. Cansu Babacan, Managing Director at Ambassadors Lab, takes a look at why we shouldn’t be worried about leaving the robots to repetitive jobs.
At the heart of it, creative automation is simply leveraging technology to produce quality content at scale.
Best case scenario, it’s about investing in people and their creative, human, big ideas, and then using technology to test and scale that across all the many outputs you need.
Yet, as a creative industry, we don’t seem to be adapting as fast as other new technologies.
The exciting possibilities of creative technologies for campaign work have been clear for a while now, with many cases winning the hearts and minds of consumers, clients, and jurors alike. From M&C Saatchi’s experimental AI poster campaign back in 2015 which evolved unique ads based on how people reacted, to more recently immersive and entertaining experiences using voice assistants like Cannes Lion-winning Westworld: The Maze.
Will automation mean we lose our jobs as problem-solving producers?
While our industry actively integrates technology into our work to grow audience engagement and relevance, there’s been more hesitation around how much we integrate technology – specifically technology automation – into the process of making the work itself.
We trust our agency and production house roles and responsibilities, our ways of collaborating, our creative process. Will automation mean we lose our jobs as problem-solving producers? Will machine-made music lose its magic, the design lose its craft value?
With change comes fear
And there’s a lot of change in our world and industry. We’re losing hold of what we already know, we’re having to learn new tools, and being forced to become students again. But for us to benefit from technology as it evolves, it means we need to adapt and learn faster than ever before.
The sheer amount of content we need to produce for the growing number of screens and channels is growing at an unyielding pace.
For years, we haven’t had to significantly change how we do things either. Our working models and the briefs being asked of us made it possible to be personally responsible for hand-crafting each and every deliverable with an eye on all the details.
But the sheer amount of content we need to produce for the growing number of screens and channels is growing at an unyielding pace. To keep up, companies task their best talents on creating these assets, spend a great amount of time and effort working across different software, and need to chase designers to deliver bulk assets on time and to exact spec – no mistakes. Scaling content in such large volumes means all hands on deck.
Reallocate the busywork
This is where creative automation can best be leveraged in advertising, by making the process of creative execution easier. Technology automation doesn’t have to be gimmicky or scary or strange – in fact, it can just be about helping with the boring bits.
But as with most innovations, there’s two camps: acceptance or rejection. As the industry turns a critical eye towards tweaking their process, one question is shared by all: how much power should we give to technology?
Technology automation doesn’t have to be gimmicky or scary or strange – in fact, it can just be about helping with the boring bits.
I think it’s not about giving power, but simply enabling technology to assist us in everyday tasks. A more automated workflow means more time for experimentation, new experiences, and to play with new ideas. Technology may help us to test and experiment ideas with fewer resources, and quicker. Shorter innovation cycles may help us experience failure as not something to be scared of like it may have before. As we go more digital, software and experimental technologies help us investigate our ideas without fully committing to them. There can be shorter cycles between testing and realization, allowing us to reach meaningful innovation more effortlessly.
AI’s your new assistant
At Ambassadors Lab, we have taken advantage of creative automation to create dynamic templates in Cube which allow us to produce varied and scaled content for our clients. In the same amount of time spent to create one broadcast-ready commercial, we can output hundreds instead. This time-saving solution has allowed us to experiment and seek new ways to improve our platform. For example, the Cube team has most recently been experimenting with ethical voice synthesis, aiming to solve the same problem of scaling content but applied to voice-overs.
With technological development happening rapidly, it’s almost inevitable that the industry of marketing and advertising we know today won’t be the same as the one two years from now. We see more and more brands wanting to use creative automation. As the industry is shifting to a direction where manual work will not be able to catch up with the demands, there’s great potential in turning to innovation to help us adapt.
With more time to think, we have more time for personal development.
I fully believe that automating our processes is worthwhile in the long-run. To me, automation means less time spent seeking to resolve workflow inefficiencies. If we allow technology to step in on the more repetitive and administrative tasks, we have an invaluable opportunity to extend human creativity and strategy. Computers are more efficient, better at automation and more able to quickly scale content than humanly possible. So why fight it?
It’s very likely that with time, the creative industry will fully embrace technology and automation into its workflows. And with more time to think, we have more time for personal development. With technology aiding most aspects of our lives, sometimes the greatest challenge comes from being able to disconnect. By redirecting our focus to being more present, we can take great inspiration from the people and settings which surround us. Spending more time to listen, speak and observe can stimulate the less demanding side of creativity we fear to lose.