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September 25, 2017

AI is A Rocket About to Launch - Here’s How to Get On Board

It is estimated that by 2020, there will be billions of terabytes of data produced every day (Source). Yet marketing and advertising professionals aren’t able to fully leverage it because they are navigating an explosion of different tools, facing a lack of transparency, and dealing with walled gardens.

What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been: From The Weather Company to IBM Watson Advertising

For many years, The Weather Company has worked with advertisers to create highly effective ad campaigns by leveraging predictive analytics and data-driven offerings like weather and location targeting. We’ve helped launch many award-winning campaigns that delighted consumers, and more importantly, delivered results for our clients.

But now that we are part of IBM, we’ve found we have so much more to offer. We knew by unleashing the power of AI into an advertising campaign, our clients could connect with consumers like never before.

Yet among all of this promise lurked a problem: Now that we have so many additional tools at our disposal for our clients, calling ourselves “The Weather Company” no longer represents the full picture of what we can offer the advertising industry. We knew it was time to shed our skin and reemerge as the new creature we’ve become...

...Which is IBM Watson Advertising, an ecosystem of AI-powered technology solutions that can help advertisers improve decision-making and reduce costs across key facets of the marketing lifecycle – from media planning through measurement. These new offerings will join IBM’s portfolio of AI capabilities for advertisers – and businesses across industries – helping them put artificial intelligence to use.

The Goods

This new scaled, cognitive, and open ecosystem can help increase talent productivity and profitability. These AI-powered technology solutions empower advertising professionals for more confident decision-making to help manage and organize data more effectively, so that insights can be uncovered more quickly and applied strategically to create deeper brand engagements.

In fact, Watson Advertising is a direct response to the needs we are hearing in the marketplace. From Carrie Seifer’s perspective, as chief revenue officer for IBM Watson Content & IoT Platform, every agency and advertiser has their unique set of challenges, and they are all looking for something that can seamlessly solve for all of them, rather than having to rely on numerous disparate tools. With Watson Advertising, they can customize and layer together the right media, data, and cognitive technology solutions that can help them better understand, anticipate, and respond to the needs of customers.

The Watson Advertising ecosystem is comprised of three types of solutions: media, data, and technology. Joining the heritage media and data offerings are the following AI-powered technology solutions:

  • IBM Marketing Planner with Lucy is an AI-powered planning console fueled by IBM Watson that is designed to empower today’s advertisers with the most relevant intelligence to do their jobs more efficiently. The console can improve decision-making across research, segmentation, media planning and beyond - helping save precious time and money for advertisers, brand managers, and agencies alike.
     
  • IBM Bidding Optimization leverages deep learning and neural networks - the latest advancement in machine learning - to optimize impressions in the real-time bidding process. It is designed to provide a competitive edge for advertisers seeking to drive better performance based on their KPIs. Due to the incredible power of deep learning, IBM Bidding Optimization can help drive superior performance - reducing time spent in manual optimization, increasing profitability, and lowering cost-per-action.
     
  • IBM Audience Targeting also leverages deep learning with neural networks to analyze relevant data sets, and scores users based on the probability of their taking a particular action (purchase, conversion, video view, etc.). These audience scores are then distributed through the client's established pipes. IBM Audience Targeting is designed to drive better performance and increases contextual relevance by de-risking advertisers’ decisions on whom to target, as the tool helps identify the customers most likely to take action.
     
  • Watson Ads, launched in June 2016, is the world’s first AI-powered advertising creative that leverages machine learning and natural language processing to make sense of unstructured data sets (ie: text and voice), and enables brands to have two-way conversations with consumers. These personalized experiences empower consumers to ask the questions that truly matter the most to them during their customer journey - creating meaningful connections with the brand that may ultimately lead impact purchase consideration and revealing new brand insights.

Success Has Many Fathers

We are already attracting great partners to provide our clients with exceptional offerings. Equals 3 has joined forces with us to incorporate the power of Watson into marketing research, audience segmentation, media planning, and beyond with IBM Marketing Planner with Lucy. As part of this alliance, Watson Advertising and IBM will become the primary sales arm for Equals 3.

Scott Litman, managing partner at Equals 3, said, “As the world becomes increasingly more data-driven, advertisers are drowning in a sea of data. The IBM Marketing Planner with Lucy solution was developed to help agencies and advertisers better manage their data, unearth insights, and convert those insights into strategies. Working with Watson Advertising will help us rapidly scale and expand the reach of this offering so that more clients can enjoy results like a global 100 company who recently experienced a 283% improvement with Lucy compared to their existing enterprise knowledge management system.”

UM has signed on as the first Watson Advertising client to leverage IBM Marketing Planner with Lucy. As Kasha Cacy, UM U.S. CEO, explained, “At UM, we are passionate about the transformative power of big data and cognitive technology. Lucy is a cognitive tech solution which enables us to maximize our data offerings, enhance campaign performance on behalf of our clients, and execute in ways we never have been able to before.”

We’ve also teamed up with Cognitiv to help advertisers drive more efficient outcomes and better returns on their media investment. Through this collaboration, brands will be able to benefit from the latest advancements in neural network technology, exclusively designed for advertisers, through IBM Bidding Optimization and IBM Audience Targeting. The alliance represents our commitment to AI discovery and innovation. Future efforts include integrating Watson Advertising’s trusted weather and location data across these technology offerings.

As Jeremy Fain, CEO and Co-Founder of Cognitiv, shared, “Cognitiv’s mission is to bring the benefits of deep learning and deep reinforcement learning to advertisers. This means each individual advertiser and every distinct brand, can finally have its own unique, automated, algorithm that learns and gets better and more sophisticated over time in its efforts of buying users and impressions. Cognitiv’s deep learning training and execution technology combined with IBM’s vast resources are now enabling advertisers to realize immediate gains in the KPI that matter most: Return on Investment. We are very excited to collaborate with IBM in bringing about the Cognitive Era.”

We are too. From being a media company selling our own inventory to operating an open, scaled and cognitive business that sells media, data and technology solutions, it truly does feel like a new era, and we can’t wait to start this journey with you.

For more information, visit watsonadvertising.com.

Jordan Bitterman
Chief Marketing Officer
IBM Watson Content & IoT Platform