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Tech Giants Are Leading the Charge in AI Advertising Campaigns — Here’s How Startups Can Still Compete

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Today’s consumers have ever-changing preferences, relentless pursuit of satisfaction and rising demand for high-quality as well as diverse products. This creates a dynamic challenge for marketers: developing innovative strategies to reach a constantly evolving target audience. While identifying the “ideal” customer and optimizing campaigns within budget were once formidable tasks, artificial intelligence has transformed the marketing landscape. Thanks to its ability to harness vast amounts of data and uncover hidden patterns in consumer behavior and cognition, AI has equipped marketers with the tools to decipher the mysteries of their target audience.

But where did it all begin? The early 2010s witnessed a turning point in advertising. As machine learning and big data matured, they became powerful tools within reach for marketers. This confluence sparked the automation of ad buying and the emergence of precise targeting ad campaigns. Such a transformation stemmed from the digital revolution, particularly the rise of streaming TV (CTV).

Before CTV, traditional television relied on program ratings — a blunt instrument for determining the right audience. CTV, coupled with neural networks, revolutionized targeting from a different perspective, with the main factor in choosing potential customers becoming their characteristics, such as habits, preferences and location. In particular, cutting-edge technology empowers advertisers to craft effective strategies and optimize them in real time, adapting to the evolving needs of their audience. This capability, in turn, provides advertisers with the necessary reach and makes the campaign as effective as possible.

Over time, the functionality of AI in the field of advertising has expanded, and today, it is successfully used for tasks such as:

  • Automated advertising campaigns: The technology independently analyzes advertising rates on various platforms and determines the budget and target audience based on the client’s needs and capabilities.

  • Hyper-personalized advertising: AI analyzes a large amount of information about users (gender, age, geolocation and preferences, among other characteristics) and allows an ad to be shown only to those interested in the product. This ensures a high level of accuracy and resonance with the potential audience.

  • The development of programmatic advertising: Neural networks enable the production of higher-quality content tailored to regional, linguistic, and cultural differences, among other factors. This means that ads can be more relevant and engaging to users, leading to better results for advertisers. Neural networks are also improving the decision-making processes of programmatic advertising, such as targeting and fraud prevention. For example, neural networks can be used to identify fake clicks and views, which can help protect advertisers from wasting their budgets.

  • Forecasting, monitoring, and optimization: AI forecasts allow to project outcomes, optimize parameters and track real-time performance metrics, enabling data-driven adjustments for a constantly improving campaign.

  • Contextual advertising: The technology can interpret the viewer watching’s content, genre, and even tone.

Related: 6 Positive Impacts of Artificial Intelligence on Digital Marketing

Tech giants are taking the lead

Tech giants like Google are leading the charge in automated advertising campaigns, where AI handles the entire process — from targeting the right audience and crafting compelling ad creatives to summarizing overall campaign performance. Google’s arsenal of AI tools includes Smart Bidding, which analyzes online auctions to determine the optimal bid price based on conversions or cost-per-acquisition. Similarly, their innovative Generative AI within Performance Max creates unique illustrations based on user requests and can edit existing visuals. Thus, it becomes easier and, most importantly, faster for marketing and advertising specialists to develop personalized ad concepts and scale them effortlessly across campaigns.

Other exciting players who are also developing the use of AI in AdTech include:

  • Meta is testing a feature that automatically generates Facebook ads. The technology will develop different versions of texts, create images on request and edit them to the required parameters. This will allow advertisers to save time and resources, as well as improve the effectiveness of their ad campaigns.

  • Amazon’s AI personalizes ad images to resonate with individual consumers, boosting engagement and ad effectiveness. The combined power of Amazon SageMaker and Amazon Rekognition fuels data-driven marketing campaigns, enabling room for insightful analysis and optimization. Thus, marketers can proactively combat ad fraud within their campaigns, ensuring the budget reaches real customers.

  • IBM utilizes the AI assistant IBM Watson to set up advertising. Watson searches for potential customers, engages in dialogue with them, identifies their interests and preferences, and selects relevant content based on these insights.

  • Netflix uses artificial intelligence to analyze users’ viewing history and recommend what to watch next.

  • Movable Ink leverages AI to create personalized marketing experiences across email, mobile and other channels. Their technology tailors content based on individual customer behavior for more engaging interactions.

  • Spectrum (communication services), thanks to AI, creates high-quality videos for customers with the characteristics of their brand in just a few minutes.

Global corporations are wielding AI to revolutionize advertising and marketing. These technologies streamline campaign processes, personalize experiences at scale, optimize ad delivery and even inject creativity through AI-powered AdTech. As a result, projects become more impactful, making AI-driven marketing accessible to companies of all sizes, not just tech giants. But this raises a question: Does this dominance by big players stifle innovation, and can startups still compete in the online marketing landscape? Let’s take a look!

Related: 5 AI Marketing Tools Every Startup Should Know About

Independent advertising technologies: Is there a way to survive? (Spoiler: Yes, it’s possible)

In today’s crowded marketplace, capturing consumer attention requires more than just amazement. People crave authenticity and experiences that resonate with their values and needs. Here are some of the most effective advertising strategies startups can leverage:

  • Target niche markets and industry verticals: By focusing on specific sectors, individuals can identify the exact problems your services solve.

  • Speed and adaptability: Advertisers need partners to keep pace in a dynamic marketing landscape. That’s where agility comes into the picture. Startups are known for their responsiveness to external market shifts and internal adjustments. They can pivot strategies and embrace new technologies faster than larger, more established agencies.

  • Personalized approach: A unique solution tailored to the customer’s needs and capabilities will set startups apart from large companies that regularly offer generic projects and allow them to build long-term relationships with advertisers.

Examples of companies that apply the strategies mentioned above in AdTech:

  • Socure offers an AI-powered platform for identity verification, document authentication and fraud detection and prediction. The platform can analyze natural language content to identify negative information about a person of interest.

  • IAS is revolutionizing ad performance with its AI-powered MFA detection and avoidance technology. This innovation helps advertisers avoid low-quality, ad-stuffed sites notorious for delivering poor results. By avoiding these sites, advertisers can expect significant reductions in ad costs and a substantial boost in return on investment.

  • Adwerx leverages AI to create personalized and scalable advertising campaigns for businesses in financial services, asset management and real estate.

  • Qwarry delivers impactful advertising that reaches the right audience, all without relying on personal information.

  • Ogury stands out for its personalized solutions that prioritize privacy. The company does not use website visitor information; instead, it employs AI to develop profiles of potential audiences.

The success of these startups proves that even against tech giants, smaller companies can carve out a niche, become trusted partners for advertisers and help them drive repeat business by choosing the right strategy.

Related: 4 Ways AI Is Revolutionizing Targeted Advertising — And How to Balance Its Ethical Implications



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