Artificial Intelligence is creeping it's way into many different aspects of our lives, but how is it changing the media industry?
In spite of repeated warnings from the creators of science-fiction, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is in the ascendant, and its influence is being felt across every industry. Whether the automated factories developed by Ocado, or the self-driving cars being tested by Tesla, we have reached the point where these technologies are poised to explode into the mainstream. But one industry that is rarely discussed, presumably because of the lack of actual robots, is the media. As we scratch the surface of what AI can do, is the media industry likely to be transformed by emerging technologies? Let’s take a look.
If asked about AI in the media, most of us would probably point to the Netflix or YouTube algorithms which steer us towards content. Certainly the easiest way to imagine media companies and internet providers usage of AI is in tabulating our likes, dislikes, and views, and using that to provide us with personalized content and recommendations in return for eyeballs and advertising dollars. But there is the potential for a far greater change in the way we consume entertainment and information.
Lorenzo Zanni, lead research analyst at IABM feels that media companies can put AI to use in all aspects of the content supply chain, leading to automated decision making, content creation, and personalisation of the customer experience. He feels that “AI tools can be used to predict demand to adjust resources (in on-demand cloud models) or to predict possible disruptions in the content supply chain (such as a content supplier failing to meet a deadline). These use cases could bring sizable savings to media companies.”
In other words, by curating content and personalising audience experiences, media companies can aggregate more data relating to consumer choices and preferences. This data can be can be incorporated into production decisions, allowing content creators to more accurately predict demand, and viewers to get programming that suits their interests and desires. Zanni concludes that “Although media companies are already using analytics tools to analyse operations and audiences, they are just starting to harness the power of more sophisticated tools such as deep learning algorithms.”
But experts feel that we are still in the early days of harnessing the power of data. Rainer Kellerhalls, Microsoft’s Media and Entertainment Industry Lead for the EMEA region, notes that currently the datasets needed to make AI work are being labeled by humans, which is a slow and cumbersome process. “The availability of training data is a particular challenge,” according to Kellerhals. “Many AI methods use some sort of machine learning, and in most cases, AI can only be as good as the data which is used to train it.”
But experts note that heavy users such as Netflix and some other “Over the Top” streaming and gaming services are making advances with data, and moving the datasets needed to the cloud. This will eventually allow them to nimbly acquire, process, and act on massive quantities of information. According to Zanni, “This leads not only to what all media companies are looking for at the moment – a better return on investment – but also to a greater responsiveness to market changes. What’s more, as they move to the cloud and establish direct to consumer connections, they’ll be able to gather more data on operations and audiences.”
In the world of gaming, AI has been adopted slowly, for a variety of complex reasons that are explained well here. But game designers are now creating AI technology that can design games on its own, or assist small teams of developers to create games that are more massive and immersive than anything we’ve seen before. In theory, AI will eventually be capable of designing gigantic, complex, immersive games that are tailored to the skills and preferences of any individual player.
Mike Cook, a Royal Academy of Engineering research fellow at Queen Mary University of London, is excited about the future of gaming. “I think that to me is the really exciting part of automated game design is the games aren’t finished designing until you stop playing them,” Cook says. He even imagines a future with software that can use your personal information to create a game set in your hometown, or featuring characters based on your friends or family.”
In the news industry, AI seems like a mixed blessing. Personalised, curated news feeds might lead to increased profitability, but in the current social media climate, the risks of fragmenting the discourse and tailoring our news consumption to our preconceptions and beliefs can be damaging to society.
On the news gathering front, AI also is causing ripples. Forbes magazine uses an AI program called “Bertie” which the magazine describes as “a bionic suit – providing real-time trending topics to cover, recommending ways to make headlines more compelling and suggesting relevant imagery.” Meanwhile, The New York Times has reported that a third of the content published by Bloomberg News uses “some form of automated content.” As advertising revenues shrink, we’d expect AI to assume a greater role in gathering and publishing news.
AI has the potential to offer marketers the ability to pinpoint who is buying products, when they’re buying, and what prompts them to open up their wallets. Chatbots and the success of voice-powered search with Siri and Alexa offer brands the chance to instantly connect with consumers. And algorithms have the power to use real-time data to switch messages, tactics, and deals on offer incredibly quickly in response to what’s happening in the marketplace.
Brands who leverage these trends will have a massive leg-up in maintaining customer loyalty. The ability to reach consumers at the right moments, in the right locations, and with the right message will make marketing infinitely more effective and efficient. If you build the capability to capture and act upon the data available, you’re almost certain to benefit.
AI is poised to massively impact the media landscape, creating huge changes in how media content is produced, distributed, and consumed. If this is news to you and your brand, it’s time to prepare yourself for the changes that are already shaking up the media landscape. Remember, Adimo is here to help!