AI has already caused much uproar in the technology world with many concerned with job loss and redundancy. However, a recent report from Infosys, a global leader in technology services and consulting, has uncovered a clear link between the length of time that business’ have used AI and their revenue growth. It would seem that those who are adopting AI early are experiencing faster growth as a result compared to those who are not using the technology. The report goes to show the AI may bring huge benefits to business.

What does this all mean to the digital advertising industry?

Well, marketers may be worried that machine learning and AI tools, like IBM Watson, will shorten their career lifespans in the industry, but in reality the opposite is true. While much of the conversation to date has centred around AI and automation replacing humans in the workforce, as seen in Japan when a company laid off 30 employees after implementing Watson, AI in marketing will provide many advantages. For native advertising specifically, the advantages will benefit the entire ecosystem of brands, publishers and agencies.

In digital advertising many companies are already adopting or looking to use AI technologies; ADYOULIKE was actually the first to partner with IBM Watson to enhance semantic targeting for native advertising. For us, the technology offered a previously unattainable ability to target our native ads. In addition, IBM Watson offers the functionality to comprehend data at huge scale and can work on thousands of pages per second measuring keywords and IAB categories, as well as gauging emotions, including fear, anger, joy and sadness.

From Infosys’ report it’s clear that AI is here to stay and that the businesses that chose to adopt it will find critical business benefits. It details that organisations that have already deployed, or have plans to deploy AI technology, are expecting to see a 39% increase in revenue by 2020, along with a 37% decrease in costs. Furthermore, in 80% of cases where companies have replaced roles with the use of AI, they are redeploying or retraining staff to keep them in the business.

While AI such as Watson will bring benefits to all walks of digital advertising life, native advertising in particular is set to flourish with its implementation. One of the larger achievement of the native-ad format is the connection it creates between a brand and its target audience through the use of text, video and audio. This style of advertising appeals especially to those who grew up in the age of the smartphone, and an IAB study confirmed this, reporting that over a quarter of 18-24 year olds considered that published brand content was most likely to make a brand appeal to them than other forms.

By pulling AI into native advertising the appeals becomes even greater, but to explain this it’s first worth looking at the role of context in advertising, and how it varies for the different formats.

Overall, providing context to the end-user is for traditional advertising is less critical than for native advertising. For the industry, targeting ensures that the rights ads are delivered at the right time to the right audiences, however where native ads are designed to match the unique editorial style of the publisher they rely on the accuracy of targeting far more. If we consider a banner advertisement, a typical advert, one that is placed beside the editorial content and not within it, the content and the ad stand apart as two separate entities and they don’t endorse each other.

In contrast, context is perhaps the most important part of native – which looks to address the trend of digital media consumption being delivered through headlines, content and sharing. Nielsen have found that native ads can provide an 82% brand lift among users exposed to native advertising. Those publishers that adopt a native approach will not only see these benefits, but will also see a higher quality of sponsored materials – which will be custom fitted to their site and highly targeted to their audience.

The dangers of serving ads without appropriate context are evident across the web already, it doesn’t take long to see ads displayed on pages that simply irrelevant which in turn severely impacts user experience for the site in question. This is where AI can come to the forefront and drastically improve user experience. As machine learning technology is increasingly integrated, publishers will be able to improve their set of blacklist criteria and stop ads appearing on their pages where they aren’t appropriate. On the other hand, external ads can then be placed correctly, and add value to the user’s journey.

For over twenty years we’ve had to deal with poorly-targeted advertising, and now that AI is becoming increasingly integrated into marketing campaigns as well as providers’ targeting plans, we can expect to find our experience of the internet become far more relevant, insightful, and affecting over the next decade.