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How to Avoid AI Wasting Your Advertising Dollars

By Luke W Russell and Eva Grouling Snider of Russell Media

Whether you know it or not, almost all of your advertising (and certainly all of your digital advertising) is powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Advertising AI needs guidance in order to get the best results — the difference between a winning and a losing campaign often comes down to how you direct the AI to improve performance.

In this month’s article, we’ll tell you what you need to know about advertising AI, and the concrete steps your advertising team can take to guide AIs to success.

Let’s start with a definition. AI is a broad term for computers/machines that learn and grow with time and inputs (you may also hear this called “machine learning,” which is an appropriate moniker). You’ve experienced AI’s learning first-hand if you have a smart home speaker. Amazon’s Alexa, for instance, still gets voice commands wrong, yet it improved its accuracy from 61% to 80% in just a year recently. Every time you repeat a command that Alexa got wrong, you’re giving new inputs to help the AI learn how to process human voice commands better.

Online ad platforms all use AI to manage the sale of advertising space in real-time. For example, Facebook’s machine learning algorithm determines how your budget is spent, who sees your ads, which ads they see, and much more. If you advertise online, AI will play a huge role in how effective your campaigns are.

As experienced Facebook advertisers, we often call Facebook’s AI an “invisible current” — it can determine the direction of your campaigns without you ever seeing evidence that the algorithm is at work. In fact, advertising AI is “invisible” by design — even the vast majority of Facebook employees have no idea how the AI works, and advertisers are left in the dark to deduce its inner workings from millions of dollars in ad spend.

Facing an immensely complex machine learning algorithm and absolutely no way to know exactly what it’s doing to your campaign and why, it can be tempting to give up and let it lead your campaign to doom or triumph.

As the Mandalorian would say, This is not the way.

The way to digital advertising success is to guide ad platform AI to get you positive results. It’s to recognize the invisible currents and redirect them where you want them to go. Here are 5 things you can do to guide the AI, starting with the very beginning of your campaign.

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