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| 2 minutes read

Full speed ahead

Lou Paskalis, one of the top media experts in the advertising industry, wrote an interesting column on his observations after attending the industry's annual confab in Cannes, France. The event is a massive gathering of the top global leaders in marketing and the networking is unmatched. So, there is a lot to watch and listen to. Lou had his eyes and ears open!

I was particularly struck by his comment on AI that "the persistent debate at Cannes around whether generative AI is a force for good or evil" is getting stale. AI is here. Deal with it.

While I couldn't agree more, there is one side of this that concerns me. It reminds me of the expression deja vu.

I've been a lawyer in the advertising industry for nearly fifty years. Over that time period, I've seen my share of stories where prognosticators pushed the industry towards the next shiny penny only to see it exposed for the poor idea it was in the first place. One could probably write volumes on the Pied Piper syndrome that permeates the decision process. If one leader does something, all the others blindly follow. If there is one area where that is profoundly true, it is in digital advertising.

When the Internet became a media platform to reach consumers, brands stampeded into the arena. The result was an avalanche of pop-ups and other interruptions that annoyed the consumers they cherished. So the "experts" told them to use cookies and target who they wanted. That only made it creepier. Then some bright bulb sold them programmatic. Imagine if you could target more consumers than exist on the planet. Wow! What a deal!

The point is, marketers didn't step back and honestly ask themselves whether the billions spent are really worth it. They just continued to spend while much of the supply chain let them down. With yet another report on programmatic waste published at Cannes by the Association of National Advertisers (of which I am General Counsel), the industry has another opportunity to reset the clock on digital. But will it?

That's what brings me to AI. Once again, advertisers are jumping on the AI bandwagon -- or more appropriately, the AI rollercoaster -- with abandon. Sure, they talk about some fears and concerns. But history shows that won't slow down their adoption any more than their reaction to the naysayers who warned them when the Internet-as-Media entered their world.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for developing AI and harnessing all the good it can do. Some of the advancements we’re seeing today are truly mindboggling. But AI, just like programmatic, has a dark side. Everybody knows that. And it's not just about wasting money.

Let's hope the industry listens to folks like Lou Paskalis and others who see both sides but preach constraint and caution.

For every hour you invest in harnessing generative AI to build creative assets, iterate and ideate, refine audiences, measure outcomes and engineer relevance into every prospect and customer interaction, dedicate an equal amount of time to building a governance solution and routines that you can deploy before the train goes through.


ana, ai, programmatic, artificial intelligence, association of national advertisers, entertainment & media, emerging technologies