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MENA Power List 2023: AI – Frenemy at the gates by Dentsu’s Tarek Daouk

Campaign Middle East recently covered industry movers and shakers from the advertising, marketing and creative space for our MENA Power List 2023 issue and there was a strong sense of optimism about the region’s landscape for marketers to flourish.

Tarek Daouk has been the CEO for Dentsu MENA for 5.5 years. His favourite hobby is scuba diving. 

Imagine that I’m not here to pen yet another article on the wonders of AI and its power to transform our industry. Instead, let’s move beyond the buzzwords and into the tangible, real-world impact of AI on our industry, both today and as we step into the future.

The second Campaign Saudi Briefing event of the year will be taking place in Riyadh on 12th October 2023. A variety of panels and speakers will be discussing the themes of media and marketing. For more details, click here. 

In a world where clients demand speed, agility, and measurable results, we find ourselves at crossroads. The headlines, intrigue and concerns surrounding AI are important, but what truly matters is the ‘how.’ How can we effectively harness AI to improve human creativity and to create dynamic and personalised experiences?

How can we shape and mould it to head down a path of success for both our clients, our agencies and talent?

Our latest CMO survey sheds light on how marketers perceive Generative AI, approaching it with both excitement and trepidation, while wrestling with the question, is AI a friend or foe?

The numbers speak for themselves:

  • 87 per cent affirm that Generative AI represents the future of advertising and marketing. 86 per cent agree that it will improve efficiency per cent say that AI will enable human teams to take on more creative tasks.
  • However, 77 per cent think AI will never craft content that truly resonates with human emotion 61 per cent of respondents agree that generative AI will impact society for the worse.
  • 57 per cent agree that generative AI might take their jobs and it’s now becoming clear that AI won’t fully replace the essence of human creativity.

The ability to craft the right prompt to lead to distinctive and brand-appropriate outcomes requires a powerful blend of creative and strategic skills.

The advertising industry is shifting gears, moving rapidly from experimentation to enterprise. It’s a captivating journey that is redefining the boundaries of what’s possible.

The promises of AI-led automation and optimisation are exciting, relieving humans of the burden of manually optimising frees up time for strategy and innovation. Given the rapid adoption of consumer grade AI tools, we are making a concentrated effort to prioritise employee access to enterprise grade AI platforms and continuous enablement for leveraging those platforms as they evolve.

“The advertising industry is shifting gears, moving rapidly from experimentation to enterprise”

While AI has been a fun experiment for many, it is rapidly scaling for real world application in our industry, and dentsu’s deployment of Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI has provided a launchpad for us to deliver client solutions within a private secure development environment.

We are already seeing the practical application of Gen AI in our industry. Our latest tool, d.Scriptor, is helping brands boost the volume of creative messaging and improve engagement – from ad copy development to optimising and adapting execution.

This is particularly useful for retail, travel, auto and financial services brands who tend to have many different products to market.

Globally, creative platforms are embedding AI at the heart of tools used by designers and developers the world over.

Dentsu Creative’s recently launched ‘Artificial Client’ exploring how AI can be integrated into human work and interactions in the future. By combining AI models with the right prompts and APIs, the real world applications range from testing real creative work and crafting brand experiences and assistants to tackling complex customer queries in healthcare and technology.

When designing creative experiences, personalisation to surprise and delight is a key characteristic. And with the exponential growth of data and this rising demand, brands now need to figure out how to leverage their first-party data.

Enter our GenCX solution, a platform that solves this challenge by building large knowledge models (LKMs) and leveraging the power of large language models (LLMs) on clients’ proprietary data assets to drive insights, audiences, creative and campaign recommendations.

Imagine being able to ask a chat-based interface ‘where should I allocate my budget?’ or ‘can you build an audience of my best customers?’ – these solutions will not only improve the speed and accuracy of results, but help marketers make decisions more efficiently.

As you’ve likely gathered, I am firmly in the ‘FOR’ camp when it comes to the insurgence of generative AI. Yet, it’s crucial not to be carried away solely by the excitement of the possibilities or to get entangled in a doomsdayer narrative.

To borrow from Reid Hoffman – “The answer to our challenges is not to slow down technology, but to accelerate it. Technology is a tool. And the faster we have it in our hands, the better we can solve the problems we have — and the problems it might create.”

“Motivation is what gets you started; habit is what keeps you going”