February 28, 2024

Thrive Insider

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Artificial Intelligence and Marketing: A Conversation with Brian Wallace, CEO of NowSourcing

Q. AI has been seen by some in the marketing/journalism community as a possible threat to writers, given its ability to create synthesized information efficiently. In an industry arguably more focused on factual accuracy and presentation, does AI present more of a threat to infographic creators considering its analytical abilities? 

A. Without question, AI has been making leaps and bounds, particularly in generative genres. Many different AI programs have been winning creative contests, passing prestigious exams (think Bar/Medical), and the like. It’s no understatement to say that AI’s analytical capabilities are very impressive and this means infographic creators will need to continuously innovate. I think that AI still has some issues–particularly to do with where these facts are coming from and who owns them–but it is nothing to ignore. As time goes on, these entities are only going to get better and better. 

Q. IBM’s Ginni Rometty recently commented that she prefers the term ‘augmented intelligence’ to ‘artificial intelligence’, as she sees AI as more of a tool for decision-making than a replacement. Would you agree with that assessment? 

A. Yes, to a large extent. An important bridge between creatives and AI is the concept that–to put it roughly–you get out of AI whatever you put in. As AI improves and continues to learn, a hallmark of a good creative will be how they best utilize the technology they have access to. This means understanding what type of information is best suited for AI to understand and generate, and what kind of parameters need to be set to ensure there is no miscommunication between the technology and its user. 

Q. Related to the above, how do you see AI sharpening the infographic industry? Perhaps more emphasis on utilizing VR or AR, and possibly more consumer interaction?

A. Despite how people think of me, I’m not just an “infographic guy.” If anything, we are constantly doing R&D on what’s next. For now, we’re intentionally low-fi because many of the world’s websites can barely host an image. Rather than infographics, consider that we are helping bring ideas to market through simplicity. I’m typically an early adopter of most new tech. In fact, we pioneered the concept of VR infographics in 2016… and most people really aren’t that interested because its time has not yet come. The overall internet pipeline and devices need to be a quantum leap better for the mainstream to adopt. 

Q. A substantial worry with AI usage for creating content is regarding copyright infringement and ambiguity as to who ‘owns’ the content created. Some argue that because the program used makes the majority of the decisions in the creative process it is deemed to have no copyright protection. Others view attributing the authorship to the program’s creator as the correct choice. Do you view either of those options as negatively impacting the use of creative AI in the marketing industry? 

A. First off, I’m not a lawyer, please consult your legal counsel 😉

That said, I feel that there is a massive misunderstanding on how usage rights work on the internet. Creative Commons has done an admirable job, however many don’t really understand how to license, share, and give permissions. AI doesn’t make this issue any better and could potentially speed up the amount of idiocy.

Q. On your site, you note that “marrying the facts with storytelling and emotion is essential.” From what you have seen/heard of AI being used in creative functions, can it capture our humanity enough to engender a proper emotional response to an advert?

A. As I mentioned before, various generative AI programs have been winning both analytical and creative competitions. In light of that, I think that while human-to-human connections are still unique and irreplaceable, AI is learning at lightning speed. Unless creatives learn to tap into human emotions and ways of thinking that are unique and non-saturated, AI will be catching up quickly. On the other hand, creatives that can learn to leverage AI in order to augment their creative processes and offerings will be poised for tremendous growth. Sameness is still the status quo, and breaking that using technology is likely to bring about tremendous results. 

Q. NowSourcing was founded in 2006, so you’re no stranger to the hype of technological advances. Do you think AI is just another tech leap that will fade out of the public’s mind in the coming years? 

A. Similar to my answer on #3, the main issue with most cutting-edge technology is adoption by the mainstream. Much of AI (generative anyway) is gaining traction. However, right now it’s really at fad status. When it starts to displace workers and become a staple to one’s workflow, then we can have a real conversation.