The latest news about AI has been all over the map lately. Jamming just about every media channel and jolting just about every reaction.
Will it take my job? Have the machines finally won? Has anyone warned Sarah Connor?
It’s yet another major technological breakthrough we have to keep up with because it will affect our lives and affect the way we do business.
So, should we dread AI?… as in “aye-yai-yai”… or should we respect AI?… as in “aye-aye”.*
We can trace machine learning back to Alan Turing and Gordon Welchman in the 1940s when they used “the Bombe” ciphering machine to help break the Nazi Enigma code. Nobody complained about AI back then when the fate of the world was at stake, so we should probably have respect for where it has brought us today.
AI and the Ad Agency Owner
There are only so many hours in the day, so this article is going to save everyone some time. Let’s get right down to brass tacks (an old-fashioned, pre-AI expression*) and share how marketing agency owners can benefit from the technology and how they can learn more about it, quickly. That is, without having to get a Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience.
AI for Dummies…
A machine scans two photos.
One is accurately labeled as an image of a house. And the other, a horse.
The machine can’t read yet, but it can record the letters of a word and the characteristics of an image.
It is asked to pick which image is the “horse”.
Of course, it will only be correct half of the time.
Then the machine is told that the image of the horse is indeed a horse.
The machine records the characteristics associated with the image,
as well as other related images it finds…
long legs, hairy mane, big ears, long snout… and the letters on the label: h-o-r-s-e.
After that, it will always know what a horse is.(Enabled only by input at the onset that was originally generated by a human.)
A machine… learning… machine learning.
AI for Dieters…
“EchoDotAlexa, I want to counteract the billions of cookies I ate over the holiday season. Put me on a diet to lose 10 to 20 ell-bees in the next quarter…
“Sure, Santa, here is your plan…”
- 1,500 calories per day, across three meals with x-number of calories per
- Recipes for each meal can be found at: SantaEats.com
- Every day, do x number of sit-ups and push-ups, jog for 1 mile
“EchoDotAlexa, keep an eye on my cholesterol, too…
and I like a lite dinner but a heartier breakfast…”
“OK, here is your revised menu with no eggs or red meat… with calories re-distributed…”
- Recipes for each meal can be found at: SantaEats.com
“EchoDotAlexa, all that running is gonna hurt.”
“I understand, Santa, so I revised your exercise regimen…”
- Every other day, do x-number of sit-ups and push-ups, jog for 1 mile
- On the off days, do these stretching exercises listed at SantaHurts.com
It’s important to note that the AI is not the source of creativity or artistry – that remains the role of humans who are choosing how the AI is used.
—Mhairi Aitken, ethics fellow, Alan Turing Institute
and author of her own stand-up act, “Will Killer Robots Save Humanity?”
1. How to learn AI
A great way to keep up with technological breakthroughs (which is 100% impossible for any single human) is to have some friends that know all about it. Many agencies are now partnered with others, and those partners include experts in the tech space, such as web and SaaS development. It’s rare for an agency to have a full DevOps team in-house these days.
Anyway, a good outsource partner like that will, of course, bill you for actual project work, like creating a website for an end client… or an app for your business. But just like the benefits of any partnership, some of the pillow talks is included at no additional cost.
Look for an outsource partner that is constantly on the path of continuous improvement and has to keep up with AI as a focus of its livelihood. You’ll learn a fortune’s worth of info.
Other sources to consider are listed below in the next item.
2. How to teach AI
Marketing agency thought leaders are niched-down in their prospective industries and areas of focus. They are not as fearful of competition because they are specialized. In fact, those agencies that may have once competed may now be partners. As in, one does video. One does production. One does tech development. One does lighting… audio… casting & location… etc.
There is simply more sharing across the entire industry. This is good news for agency owners. Things like industry orgs and ad clubs, forums and roundtables, tradeshows and expos, podcasts and blog sites all create a venue for industry peers to share knowledge and network for business.
If you know a lot about AI, reach out and teach through those venues. The respect that is earned will come back in the form of business.
3. How to use AI
AI comes in a vast array of forms, and there is a wealth of uses… and that list is growing. Exponentially.
We’ve provided some additional resources in that regard at the end of this article.
AI is not human. In the case of AlexaDot making a menu for Santa Claus in the previous example, it is generative. That means it generates pictures and text by researching and compiling, and modifying pre-existing resources or references. The computer did not originally know that eggs were high in cholesterol nor that Santa had an issue with that. But it knew how to receive input, research a knowledge base, learn those facts and act on them.
It’s an assistive tool. It needs the right input. And yes, it has some growing pains. But it can make an agency more productive.
For example, let’s say an outsource partner was brought in to develop a WordPress site for the agency… with a main focus on content management. Once that’s done, who’s creating all that new content that now needs to be managed? Well, AI will never replace the stylized thought and wit and opinion of a good writer. But it can help that writer get a jump on content by compiling the original research that might be the fodder for an article. That’s a huge head start.
If every article requires less grunt work, more time can be spent making it sing. And that’s an important distinction. Original content, not something just written by a bot… but, bot-assisted.
It enables more content marketing to get done. More quickly. At a lower cost.
In this case, it’s just an example, but it all partners together… agencies, sentient creative thoughts, plus their outsourced development teams…plus AI.
When combined in unison, they all make “it” happen.
And for developing content such as social media posts, well, that material often reads like it was written by a bot anyway (#@#@#), so AI is a slam dunk for that… further freeing up your writers and agency intelligentsia to focus on thought leadership. And train the bot to assist.
Anyway, it’s changing.
And it’s tough to keep up with everything-technology. But there are ways to keep in the know, and technology, in turn, can make our lives easier, more productive and more opportunistic.
Use an app to make two images, and it’s cool,
but make 100,000 images, and you have a sensation of drowning…
so we are trying to teach people how to swim
—David Holz, founder and CEO of A.I. art generator Midjourney (paraphrased)
AI RESOURCES: Quick Reads, Quick Links…
From Analytics Insights magazine online, check out basic definitions and terminology related to AI and machine learning. Many helpful links within this article and within this site… click around for a wealth of objective info.
Find out more about generative apps for creative text and artwork, such as ChatGPT, LensaAI, Midjourney and DALL-E 2. Other related articles link within this one.
At online educator, Emeritus.org read about AI business applications by industry, such as how an airline can predict exactly how many flights it needs to get its passengers where they want to go… while keeping overbooking or underbooking in check (and many more examples).
*Bonus Material That a Bot Can’t Conceive
“Aye-yai-yai” is an expression that has French-language origins, Spanish-language origins, and other etymology. It can mean “surprise”… good or bad. A favorite suggestion is that it is onomatopoeic in nature… it simply just sounds like what it is. Which means, just the expressive sound-effect-like utterance of “ay” probably dates back to the ancients. In other forms, “aye” is a nautical response that means “yes”, but is repeated as “aye-aye” by a sailor to assure the captain that orders are crystal clear and will be obeyed. It also ties to some ship-to-ship signals regarding whether there are certain officers on board, with “no-no” being one response, so “aye-aye” is its opposite. And finally, “ay caramba” was re-popularized by the animated cartoon character Bart Simpson starting in the 1990s.
“Get down to brass tacks”… the business at hand, the basics, the fact of the matter… also has multiple opinions regarding its origin. One dating back to the English in WWI, joking that the cheap galvanized nails soldiers used were issued by the army, so they MUST be the best nails ever, they MUST be made of brass, not tin. So they are (mockingly) “brass tacks”. In addition, an old coffin may have been trimmed with brass nailheads meaning that one has finally gotten “down” to that. Another theory suggests the brass tacks were nailed into the wood surface of an old store counter, every yard, so one could measure cloth without guessing… as in, “get it down onto the brass tacks”. Plus, there is a reference to hunger… being so starved one could “eat brass tacks” (warning: not a good source of iron). And “brass tacks” just sounds cool; rolls off the tongue… so that might be part of it, similar to the fluid inflection of “aye-aye”.