Royle Media Turns 11: Reflecting on AI in Advertising

Royle Media is officially eleven now, and I look forward to the next eleven years. I turn 54 this April and it’s my 30th year working in advertising and marketing technology, fifteen as a business owner. Next week also marks 30 years since my wife and I started dating. Shani and the internet business have been my close companions for three decades now.

It’s interesting to reflect on the last 30 years of computers, software, and internet technology. That first little monochrome Macintosh was mind blowing. Aldus PageMaker was a game changer for us print marketing people. I bought my first Google text ad in 1998 for a jeweler in Seattle and haven’t stopped. OTT/CTV video targeting is incredible and is killing television and cable. Now we have artificial intelligence.

In 1999 I worked on a website development project for an “artificial intelligence” startup. It was at the height of the venture capital boom (before the bomb). The founders had left Microsoft and were doing crazy-cool things with Oracle databases. Their business plan was solid and was shopped with all the right people in Silicon Valley. The VC’s all knew about artificial intelligence but passed on the opportunity because it wasn’t a popular technology for investors. The revenue models were slow to develop and convoluted. Over beers in my West Seattle office, they decided to close the business and return to Microsoft.

It’s taken artificial intelligence 25 years to develop into a disrupting “killer app.” Fifteen years ago we called AI “machine learning.” AI isn’t new technology. Chat GBT just put it in a nice wrapper. The revenue models are still developing, just like 1999. The slow pace of AI technology coming to market is worth noting.

In the next 3 – 6 years I see databases and algorithms fighting each other at warp speed. Soon Google will be spinning out AI generated ads on YouTube in nanoseconds. CTV video ads will be made on the fly, targeting people with data collected in real time.

Will AI-run ad bidding systems designed to eliminate humans just increase advertising costs as the algorithms and databases duel at warp speed? Will business owners trust Google, Meta, and Amazon to spend their money wisely? Will computer generated video commercials be effective without thoughtful branding and messaging?

AI will continue to devalue the value of branding and creativity. The AI generated logos and artwork I see now don’t scale well on mobile phones. AI logos become unreadable mud in 325×50 mobile ads. They will get better but will never be truly creative. Ingenuity is ingenious. Artificial intelligence is not ingenious.

Digital agencies like Royle Media have already become more efficient with AI and will continue the embrace many aspects of the technology. Our competitive advantage in the AI world is that we have our client’s best interest at heart. Advertisers (and people) are commodities for Google, Meta, and Amazon. WE’LL ALWAYS BE CREATIVE AND VALUE BRANDING.

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