Connected TV

The Robots Have Taken Over Retail

(And no, we’re not talking about self-checkout machines)

The Robots Have Taken Over Retail

3 Min Read

When we look back on 2023, we’ll probably remember it as the year of the machines. Seemingly overnight, machine learning, AI, and automated optimization tools changed the advertising landscape for brands and retailers. Now advertisers can deliver high-impact messaging and engage customers more easily and faster than ever. But like any technology, things are changing so fast that it can be difficult to keep up. 

Matt Collins, Director of Product Marketing at MNTN, recently spoke to ModernRetail to give his perspective on the rise of AI in advertising and how retailers can leverage it to produce better performance outcomes. You can watch a full recording of “Everything You Wanted to Know About The Machine (Learning) Uprising in CTV Adshere. But if you’re more of a skimmer, here’s a high-level recap. 

AI is For Everyone

Collins noted that AI isn’t just for a niche audience anymore—it’s everywhere, both for business and entertainment. Whether it’s a text generator, image creator, search engine, or personal DJ, artificial intelligence has infiltrated our daily lives and impacts our decisions all day. “Many of you have probably used artificial intelligence, even if it’s just to goof around,” said Collins as he highlighted noted its impressive range of capabilities. 

In a short amount of time, AI and machine learning have had a profound impact on every industry—especially advertising and retail. While these technologies are rapidly changing the face of advertising, Collins drilled down on two specific areas where AI has had the biggest impact: “its role in how we think about media operations—the mechanics of how we apply our craft—and how it will continue affecting how we think about creative.” 

Reclaim Your Time

Of course, one of the biggest allures of AI and machine learning is how these tools streamline and simplify tasks humans would rather not be doing anyway. “The good news is that artificial intelligence is already making advertising life easier—and not just for retailers,” said Collins. “The tools that AI enables are making the actual work of advertising faster, more precise, and less cumbersome.” 

He explained how, for example, programmatic advertising solutions use algorithmic tools to automate the buying and selling of digital ad space. “That process of taking all those inputs, reviewing what could be billions or trillions of different campaign alternatives, and recommending the best solution can now take place in minutes or hours—compared to days, weeks, or even months [with manual processes],” said Collins. The scale, speed, and complexity of these tools used simply can’t—and don’t need to—be matched by a human. “It’s taken a lot of the painful manual processes out of the equation, and has given advertisers their time back to focus on other things.” 

Next, Collins detailed some ways that AI has improved marketing processes—and how retailers can take advantage of them.

Humanity Still Required

It’s true that marketers have used AI to create compelling, emotionally charged, and inspirational ads—but there’s still plenty of work that just can’t be artificially generated. People are still going to be a big part of the equation for the foreseeable future: “I think about artificial intelligence limitations,” said Collins.“In the creative process, the human touch still prevails.”

AI still needs a human behind the wheel, whether they’re drafting prompts, building creative briefs, or determining whether AI-produced ads have nailed the messaging and will resonate with audiences. “It’s hard to imagine, at least at this current state, that artificial intelligence will be able to bring the critical thinking that’s required,” said Collins. “For that reason, I think that artificial intelligence will remain a powerful augmentation to what people deliver, but it can’t replace every step of the end-to-end process for producing creative. Humans still have a big role to play.”

AI: The Great Ad Space Equalizer?

Collins had a lot more to say about AI, on topics ranging from how it’s democratizing the TV space for retailers of every size, to how advertisers can use it to help them build high-quality creative. Click here to catch up on his presentation.