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The Influencers

The Robots Are Coming... Put the Kettle On

INFLUENCER: Honeycomb’s James Carpenter on why everyone in the industry should embrace new technology - or prepare to be left behind

The Robots Are Coming... Put the Kettle On

The Honeycomb team has seen the future. And we’re bloody excited about it. 

Stumbling back into the office after the whirlwind of IBC2017, our broadcast services team were buzzing about the machine learning technology they’d seen - and the avalanche of opportunities it’s about to unleash on the industry.

Yet, while the world’s biggest media companies and ad agencies are investing in future-focused tech, much of the creative end of the industry seems to still be actively in denial. To me, this seems incredible. Not only is machine learning definitely coming, but it has the potential to make the industry much more exciting. 

What Publicis Group, JWT, and the others now investing in AI tech have recognised, is that embracing smart technology is a win for creativity. They’ve realised that automated systems have the power to improve workflows - and have jumped on them to get everyone working better, faster and more creatively. While Marcel - Publicis’ AI platform - and Pangaea - the AI platform launched by JWT - are crunching data to connect ideas and smooth out processes, the agencies’ creatives are liberated to come up with the big ideas.

Soon AI and data will mean more specific targeting. More ads being sent to smaller groups of people. More powerful ads altogether. This will demand ever more content, and drive a massive creative revolution. What will power that revolution? New technology.

Technology has always been applied to automate tedious processes - as our CTO noted in this recent essay, there aren’t many people still working in typing pools. So it’s nuts to think that today’s technology landscape is the optimum platform for creativity. Things are going to change. Tech will continue to evolve. Systems will continue to improve and this will make the industry more - not less- creative. 

From a creative point of view, investing in machine learning makes sense. From a commercial point of view, not investing in it will be a disaster. I'm ever more convinced that in the very near future there will be two types of company; those that have embraced machine learning and are thriving and those that have not and are managing their decline.

We want to be in the former camp. We’ve already pioneered a number of automated processes to cut out unnecessary flab and provide dramatic savings of time and money for our clients. Now we’re looking forward, asking the interesting questions, and preparing to build the answers: What could machine learning mean for compliance bodies? How will facial recognition technology affect digital fingerprinting and reporting? When will speech to text tech replace manual subtitling? What are the implications of vast scale metadata collation for the industry and the world?

The answers to these questions inevitably means change. Yes, change is difficult but it also poses enormous commercial opportunities - to those brave enough to embrace it. Google, Facebook, Publicis, JWT are amongst  others who are committing to machine learning technology and getting ahead of the game. They’re going to be the winners when it comes to both creative and commercial output. Those who try to resist change will inevitably lose out.

This week Honeycomb is sponsoring Kinsale Sharks. We’re supporting the awards because we fundamentally believe that creativity and technology are on the same side. We also believe that no amount of technology is going to destroy the ad industry’s need to celebrate great work (or its enthusiasm for a knees up!). But we shouldn’t be surprised when those who invest in ambitious, workflow-shifting technology are also the ones winning all the awards for creativity. 

Honeycomb is investing in the technology which will fuel the creative of tomorrow. Are you?




James Carpenter is Founder and CEO of Honeycomb

Genre: Strategy/Insight