AI, automation, apps and Asia


Artificial intelligence is set to be table stakes for brands — and Asia is ready to lead the charge into this brave new world, writes Noor Fathima Warsia, group editor of BW Businessworld and Digital Market Asia. 

The advertising and marketing industry is locked in an intense battle that has two central themes: how to bring to digital the robustness and transparency upon which legacy media has been built, with the debate widening to include the very business model of agencies; and how to employ technology to augment creativity.

No strife is all good, but the marketer unrest the industry is witnessing has created a groundswell of change. Asia, central in development and arguably protected from the extreme steps that marketers have taken in more developed regions, is doing what it must — leading this change.

The industry has been preparing for the impact of technology. The benefits, especially for marketers, have been plentiful. The ability to personalise and target precisely, the increase in reach into media dark areas, and finding tools that automate and keep human intelligence for creative and strategic thinking are no longer utopian dreams. They are here. But as is the nature of the beast, the troubles of technology are unpredictable and, very often, uncontrollable. 

Personalisation has come at the cost of privacy and a reckoning is due. The tools of automation have amassed content that is not only devoid of the authenticity expected in the age of digital, but is also not in the best interest of society. Transparency — both from a business standpoint to the marketer and from a message standpoint to the consumer — is compromised. 

All of this is at the heart of the marketer outcry for reform and, for some, the industry’s current introspection and efforts to hold leaders accountable are signs of a rebellion.

At the risk of oversimplifying the state of advertising globally, it could be said that, while western markets are dealing with the advent of GDPR (general data-protection regulation), responding to advertiser concerns and understanding the broader ambit of what being accountable means, it is life with its usual highs and lows for marketers and agencies in Asia. 

• The full article can be seen in an edition of the Lions Daily News which is published daily in print, in Cannes, and here online from June 17 to June 22

Harriet Palmer