Three ways AI is making content more creative

by John Watton

Posted on 10-31-2018

How long does the aver­age cre­ative spend dig­ging through stock imagery to cre­ate a sin­gle ad? From what I hear the process can take hours, espe­cial­ly if you want to find the per­fect image each time.

Who has time for that any­more? Con­tent is explod­ing, with brands cre­at­ing 10 times more assets than ever as they look to reach cus­tomers through new dig­i­tal chan­nels, accord­ing to IDC. The same IDC report reveals 85% of mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als feel the pres­sure to cre­ate assets and deliv­er cam­paigns faster.

As such, cre­ative teams are being asked to devel­op con­tent at a break­neck pace while also main­tain­ing a high stan­dard each time. There’s sim­ply no way they can con­tin­ue to do this for an audi­ence of mil­lions, at least not by man­u­al means.

It’s not just search­ing for images or video that can take hours. The time need­ed to manip­u­late, crop, and resize con­cepts into dif­fer­ent lay­outs, so they’re equal­ly effec­tive across any dig­i­tal chan­nel, is even greater.

Add to this the chal­lenge of serv­ing the right con­tent to the right peo­ple at the right time, and it’s clear this is not a job for mere humans. And we haven’t even men­tioned the cost of this labour-inten­sive process when work­ing on such a large scale!

Putting the cre­ativ­i­ty back into dig­i­tal advertising

It’s easy to see why there’s a back­lash against the need for speed in dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing; some think it has the poten­tial to kill cre­ativ­i­ty. But work­ing fast doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly mean cut­ting cor­ners. Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence (AI) is emerg­ing as a designer’s ulti­mate assis­tant. Accord­ing to our State of Cre­ativ­i­ty in Busi­ness sur­vey, 40% of cre­atives are already using AI to help with pho­to and design retouching.

But AI’s poten­tial extends much fur­ther. Here are three ways AI is help­ing brands unchain their cre­ativ­i­ty and deliv­er amaz­ing con­tent at scale, while sav­ing mon­ey in the process:

#1 Make the most of your design investment

No design­er has time to tag the hun­dreds of images they upload after each pho­to shoot. Even if they did, there’s no way the list of tags would be exhaus­tive unless they spent all day on this task alone. With so many pho­tos untagged, it becomes impos­si­ble to find them again lat­er and the like­li­hood of an image being repur­posed falls to near zero.

That leads to more unnec­es­sary shoots and explod­ing costs. In oth­er words, brands con­tin­ue to make major invest­ments that deliv­er lim­it­ed ROI, sim­ply because there’s too much con­tent to manage.

With Auto Tag, a new fea­ture built on Adobe’s AI frame­work, Adobe Sen­sei, images are auto­mat­i­cal­ly tagged with an accu­rate and exhaus­tive list of key­words. The tech­nol­o­gy has been trained to iden­ti­fy the var­i­ous ele­ments in a pho­to. But it’s not just the objects. Even more impor­tant­ly, Auto Tag is able to derive the con­text of an image, from the intend­ed con­cept, to the qual­i­ty and the style, which means tags are cre­at­ed in a way that’s rel­e­vant for search.

Cus­tom auto tags don’t just make design­ers more effi­cient, they also open up oppor­tu­ni­ties for bet­ter cus­tomer expe­ri­ences. Image-based shop­ping is a prime exam­ple, where­by a cus­tomer look­ing for, say, a new couch, just uploads a pho­to of one they like to a brand’s web­site and is pre­sent­ed with sim­i­lar-look­ing options based entire­ly on the image they shared.

#2 Auto­mate the small touch­es that make con­tent sing

As men­tioned, once you’ve locat­ed an image, you still need to invest hours into manip­u­lat­ing it, crop­ping it, resiz­ing it for var­i­ous plat­forms, and cre­at­ing mul­ti­ple ver­sions based on the needs of a par­tic­u­lar cam­paign. But it doesn’t have to be that way with new AI-dri­ven edit­ing capa­bil­i­ties which have made the process faster, while giv­ing cre­ative teams peace of mind that the final prod­uct is still deliv­ered to a high standard.

With Deep Cutout, a fea­ture of Adobe Sen­sei, design­ers can auto­mat­i­cal­ly remove and replace an image’s back­ground with one that fits their brand guide­lines or the needs of a par­tic­u­lar cam­paign. That might just mean sim­pli­fy­ing things down to a white back­ground for web images or play­ing around with dif­fer­ent options, but with just a few clicks users can com­plete­ly rein­vent a photo.

Auto-Crop takes this one step fur­ther, allow­ing brands to train the crop­ping soft­ware to ensure cut-outs respect a spe­cif­ic set of para­me­ters, from brand guide­lines to con­sid­er­a­tions around a par­tic­u­lar cam­paign. For instance, a footwear brand might only want images show­ing its shoes used in a cam­paign, with no body shots or faces, and can use auto-crop to ensure every pho­to its design­ers choose is mod­i­fied to meet that need.

AI also gives design­ers more flex­i­bil­i­ty to dic­tate image qual­i­ty. Brands can eas­i­ly set para­me­ters for res­o­lu­tion, but also expo­sure, focus, colour bal­ance, depth of field, and more. Not only does this result in high­er qual­i­ty con­tent, it also saves design­ers valu­able time they would tra­di­tion­al­ly have spent fuss­ing over these factors.

#3 Cre­ate and per­son­alise great con­tent at scale

The real val­ue of AI, cer­tain­ly when it comes to cost-sav­ings, lies in the abil­i­ty cre­ate cus­tom work­flows that help design­ers do their job well, faster, and often bet­ter. Even when pro­duc­ing thou­sands of assets and tar­get­ing cus­tomers on a glob­al scale.

When you can search for, mask, mod­i­fy, and pub­lish con­tent in min­utes instead of hours, the cost of devel­op­ing high qual­i­ty con­tent falls sig­nif­i­cant­ly. And that just leaves more bud­get (and time!) to invest in cre­ativ­i­ty and vol­ume. For exam­ple, con­sid­er how much quick­er it would be to tai­lor con­tent to dif­fer­ent mar­kets with dif­fer­ent lan­guage and design guidelines.

Things get even more inter­est­ing when you apply AI to both con­tent and audi­ence data. With a deep under­stand­ing of each cus­tomer based on their dig­i­tal activ­i­ty and with what you know about a par­tic­u­lar image, you can micro-tar­get audi­ence seg­ments with even more rel­e­vant experiences.

Soon, brands will reg­u­lar­ly cre­ate cus­tom work­flows that auto­mate the cre­ation and deliv­ery of beau­ti­ful, per­son­alised cam­paigns, mak­ing them more effi­cient but also ensur­ing they cre­ate con­tent that sticks.

The irony of AI is that we’re see­ing soft­ware make dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing more human and empa­thet­ic. Cre­ativ­i­ty is still a pure­ly human trait, but the human brain can only han­dle so much. And with design­ers hav­ing to deliv­er enor­mous vol­umes of con­tent more quick­ly than ever, their capac­i­ty for cre­ativ­i­ty has had to suf­fer in the name of productivity.

AI strips away many of the com­pli­ca­tions that come with large-scale pro­duc­tion, which means brands can get back to what’s most impor­tant – cre­at­ing incred­i­ble cus­tomer experiences.

For more on how AI is help­ing brands thrive in a con­tent-dri­ven world, check our full report. And click here to get a deep­er dive on Adobe Sensei. We have also recent­ly launched our AI ‘Con­text is Every­thing’ cam­paign which you can check out using the hub page here

Topics: Design, Creativity, AI, artificial intelligence, Automation, content marketing, Digital ads, personalisation, UK, UK Exclusive, Digital EMEA