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