What Advertisers Think About AI

The last several issues of this AI newsletter have covered a lot of ground from AI workflow to new AI technology to audience perceptions of AI.  But none of it matters if the advertisers aren’t on board.

Below is a fact-packed conversation with Corey Elliott of Borrell and Associates that gives insight into what local advertisers are thinking about AI — and what local media companies can do to ensure they continue to thrive as the technology evolves around us.

The good news is there are lots of opportunities for local media sales organizations to be the prime marketing consultants in their markets.  Local advertisers don’t think AI can understand the nuances of the local market and lack the personal touch.  Local clients want marketing solutions, and many need to have a marketing “easy button” that local salespeople can provide.

Just like on the content-side, the way forward on the sales-side is to lean-in and super-serve by providing personal, relatable, local solutions — many of which will include elements powered by AI.

I’d love to know your thoughts. chris@jacobsmedia.com

AI EDGE – Headlines

Meta Updates Llama AI and Adds Chatbots

This week Meta announced that not only is its chatbot being integrated into the search boxes for Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp, but it will be powered by an upgraded version of their AI-engine, Llama 3.

http://Meta.ai also replaces http://imagine.meta.com for image generation. Here users can see the image generation take place in real-time.  The best part of all is that the model is open-source and free-to-use.

Adobe Puts Image Generation Into Photoshop

Powered by Adobe’s latest Firefly AI, the new features are now accessible through the Photoshop beta desktop app and are expected to be widely released later this year.

One big change is the Reference Image tool, which lets users upload images to guide the AI in generating new images instead of having to type words to describe the output wanted.  Additionally, users won’t have to use a separate web portal for image generation and then import the generated image into Photoshop.

AI EDGE Interview – Corey Elliott, EVP Borrell and Associates

Corey Elliott has had an expansive career in media. After stints in research and strategy for BIG newspapers like the Dallas Morning News and Arizona Republic, he shifted to Borrell and Associates ten years ago. His current post as Borrell and Associates’ EVP of Local Market Intelligence gives him an ideal perch to view and analyze local media advertising across radio, print, and television. Corey is also a regular podcaster and will cohost the Borrell webinar April 30, which will review the 2024 Borrell digital revenue benchmarking data.  You can sign up for the webinar here.

I spoke with Corey earlier this week. -Chris

CB: One of the things that has been sticking in my head since the December Borrell webinar is that over 60% of advertisers in local businesses rarely or never work with a local media sales rep.  That means that there’s a lot of AI already influencing local advertising. If I’m selling on the street, I’ve got to be thinking how I can be better than an AI bot.

CE: You’re absolutely right.  With the advent of AI, self-service models are just going to get better and better.  In the past, self-service models were great for the media company, not so great for the advertiser.  But that could change in the next couple years.

CB: What does the research say about the trends?

CE: Twice a year we send a local advertiser survey out to one thousand local advertisers and ask some serious questions about AI. In the latest survey, 14% of the small and medium local businesses are currently using AI, and another 29% are interested in using it.

We tried to figure out if there were differences among those who are using AI. Was there a difference by business size or business type?  Size doesn’t matter. 34% of the companies using AI have fewer than ten employees!

One of the only differences we found was in the skill levels of the persons responsible for the marketing. We grouped these people into three tiers: a novice, a middle level person who has some experience, and a master, who says they’ve done marketing for years.

We found that the more novice you are, the more hesitant you are towards AI.  In fact, 45% of the novice group essentially said, “I don’t know about AI,” as far as it goes with marketing.

Meanwhile, with the masters, 40% are very interested in it.

When we asked all three groups about how they would use AI in marketing, they all said they want AI to create content and write advertising copy — across the board.  Right or wrong, that’s what’s on their mind.

The marketing masters and mid-level marketers also want to know how AI can optimize campaigns. Can AI help me optimize my creative? How can AI get me more creative, whether it’s headlines or images?

The novice marketers say they would use AI to help them target advertising.  Whether the AI can or not, this tells me there’s an opportunity for local sales reps to help businesses without a strong marketing backbone.  “Let’s talk about the ways we can target.” Because that’s what they’re turning to AI for.

CB: Did the advertisers have any red flags with AI?

CE: We asked advertisers, “What do you think the greatest risk is for AI?”  All groups had the same top 2 answers:

  1. Removing personal touch. They were worried that that could erode relationships, and
  2. They were concerned that the same generic info could be used by multiple companies. That’s a version of losing your voice when you start to sound like everybody else.

The middle level marketers were also concerned about inaccurate information, or hallucinations, coming out or AI. The masters were concerned that the AI wouldn’t understand the nuances of their local market.

Again, here’s another opportunity for a media company in a local market to say, “You know that AI might not know about our local market — but guess who does!!?”

CB: Are there verticals which are more quick to adopt AI into their marketing?

CE:  I take local advertisers at their word. The ones who have taken over marketing for themselves are going to use it.  Healthcare, finance, and insurance companies make sense with all their data. Real estate and automotive are already using it.

CB: What are ways local media companies can ensure they remain part of the advertising media mix?

CE:  I step on this soapbox so much because I hear it from the local advertisers. They’ve been telling us for years. What they want from local media is marketing help. That does not they want a big buffet menu of the different ad options.
I’m talking about a transparent, complete marketing plan.  A lot of local media companies aren’t giving that. So then the businesses have got to do it themselves. If that’s their attitude, and here comes AI, what do you think is going to happen?
“Hi Mr. AI. Click. Click.”  Off they go, whether the AI is good or not.

CB: Any third-rails for local media to avoid with AI?

CE: There are always data and security issues, especially when working with a client’s proprietary data.  That’s why it’s important for media companies to have AI experts where it’s their full-time jobs.

CB: Final question. If you headed up a big media company, what’s your AI strategy?

CE: I have a chief AI person. And the first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to knock down those easy tasks and then figure out how my CRM and my AI can work together and help me do things faster and more efficiently. Let‘s get a little bit more efficient so that I can have my reps spending time understanding marketing, understanding their local market and getting out and talking to people.

Corey cohosts the webinar: Annual Benchmarking: Entering the Last Phase of Local Media’s Digital Transformation on Apr 30, 2024.  Register for it here.

AI EDGE – Worst Practices
Confused AI News Bot Accuses NBAer of Vandalism
Just because Golden State Warrior Klay Thompson was shooting 0-10 against the Kings doesn’t mean he was literally shooting bricks, unless you’re X’s AI-powered bot Grok.  Last week during the game, Grok suggested on the former Twitter that Thompson was accused of a “bizarre brick-vandalizing spree.”
“Authorities are investigating the claims after several individuals reported their houses being damaged, with windows shattered by bricks,” Grok posted. “Klay Thompson has not yet issued a statement regarding the accusations. The incidents have left the community shaken, but no injuries were reported. The motive behind the alleged vandalism remains unclear.”

Originally published by Jacobs Media