How brands could use artificial intelligence to create ‘self-writing’ ad campaigns

The world’s first artificially intelligent poster campaign, which evolves to write its own copy and selects its own images and fonts based on the reactions of passersby, has gone live in London.

The ad, created by M&C Saatchi in partnership with Postercope and Clear Channel UK, has a camera that registers peoples’ engagement based on whether they look happy, sad or neutral. It then uses an algorithm that tests various executions based on the responses, “killing off” ads which don’t results in engagement and reproducing those that do. (See video)

It will run at a bus shelter outside Selfridges on Oxford Street this week, appearing to be a poster for an instant coffee brand, made up by the agency.

A second wave will run at Clapham Common from 10 to 21 August in order to account for the effect different environments, settings and timings could have on the engagement of passersby.

David Cox, chief innovation officer at M&C Saatchi, said the team wanted the ad to look like a real product to showcase how the technology could work for any brand.

If successful, the technology could provide an opportunity for brands to gather data on how consumers are reacting to their ads in real-time and optimise this across wider campaigns.

Cox added that the ad gets more successful and effective over time, resulting in a more personalised message that “doesn’t feel like you’re being advertised to”.

Glen Wilson, managing director of Posterscope, added: “Digital out-of-home campaigns can already tweak creative as they go, using real-time technologies that adapt based on factors like temperature, weather, travel info, location and time of day.

“However, this experiment goes one step further, evolving beyond a pure reliance on environmental factors to add emotional engagement as a measurable trigger, to ensure campaigns achieve maximum relevance.”

Despite this, Cox said that the main goal of the initiative is simply to “see how much tech we can cram into digital out of home”.

“Advertising is really bland a lot of the time and we want to be seen as experimenting,” he added. “In the industry we don’t experiment enough.”

He added that artificial creativity is becoming more prominent, and is something brands should be looking into.

“When you buy things, things are being suggested to you by algorithms, not by people,” he added, citing Amazon’s online recommendations as a prime example.

He added that a next step of the ad could be making it interactive.

“We keep coming up with ideas on how to extend it,” he said. “We are not suggesting a diminished role for creative but we know technology will be playing a greater part in what we do.”

Neil Chapman, head of create at Clear Channel, agreed.

“We know that this is merely scratching the surface of the potential for artificial intelligence in the digital out of home arena and are very much looking forward to exploring the possibilities this kind of technology presents for advertisers in the near future,” he added.