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Experts Speak: AI has the potential to create the biggest fireworks this festive season

This festive season, ad spends is expected to see at least a 15% hike. Amid this, AI continues to gain momentum in the A&M landscape. Experts believe brands will go all out with AI during the festivities. We try to find out how this will unfold.

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Sneha Medda
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AI in festive

With Raksha Bandhan, Onam, and Janmashthami ticked off of the calendar, India has officially set foot in its festive season. Festive is the time when consumer spending habits shift and a growth in expenditure is visible. Riding on this sentiment, brands and advertisers gear up to make their heaviest spends. Compared to last year, experts estimate that ad spends this festive season is about to witness a 15% hike

With this increase in ad spends, experts believe that generative AI, which has already made an impactful impression on the Indian landscape, is going to bloom in the festive season. 

Preetham Venkky, Chief Digital Officer of DDB Mudra Group, told Social Samosa that he estimates at least 1 out of 5 brands will make use of AI this festive season. 

“The best use of AI this festive season would be large-scale adaptation of creative and video generation,” said Abhimanyu Vyas, Business Head - Data and Analytics of PivotRoots.

Moving beyond just ChatGPT, brands have been using other AI tools like Midjourney, ControlNet, and a plethora of such AI tools which has made the creation of visually impactful and appealing creatives – more accessible. 

Experts say that brands are more than willing to explore the depths of AI this festive season to elevate their campaigns. 

“Most marketing teams have already begun to adopt AI to enhance productivity in their internal operations, so there is a widespread consensus that AI expands the scope beyond what was previously possible,” said Madhu Sudhan, Co-founder of Punt Partners. 

To say that AI has transformed the digital marketing landscape would be the understatement of the year. It has enabled marketers to unlock seemingly impossible possibilities and has taken advertising and communication to never before levels,” said George Kovoor, Chief Creative Officer, Wavemaker India.

He said AI will create the biggest fireworks in Indian advertising based on its ability to bring Personalisation at scale, Efficiency and Performance.

India is a land of diversity; through the magic of AI, we can reach multiple regions, multiple target groups, in multiple languages, all with just one tool,” added Kovoor.

Unleashing the full potential of AI

In the first half of the year, the use of AI increased manifold. Brands like Britannia, MG Motors, and others have used deep fake to create an immersive experience, while Cadbury, Jeevansathi, and others have used AR to drive personalization into their campaigns. 

“We are only just getting started [with AI]. We haven’t even scratched the surface yet,” said Jay Morzaria, Head of Creative at Rephrase.ai.

Morzaria further said that it is not just about leveraging the full potential of AI, but rather it is about leveraging the relevant potential from a host of options for your brand. 

“Even within AI, you have Generative AI (AI which can create things, often at scale) and Analytical AI (AI which helps you analyse, process and interpret data faster and help with decision making). Depending on your objective, you choose what you need as per your requirements,” he added.

The A&M industry is in the second phase of AI adoption. As more brands open up to the idea of AI, marketers are opening newer avenues for them. 

“We are far from realizing the full potential of AI because we are in the tactical-tool first exploratory stage of what can be done with AI where the first-order use cases are being ticked off the list. What brands will need is to dig deeper and find AI native use cases that allow for fresh ideas to be executed,” said Madhu Sudhan.

Mithun Mukherjee, ECD of FCB Kinnect, thinks that brands need to move beyond the surface-level use of AI to make the most out of it this festive season. He said, "Looking at AI just through the lens of 'execution' might not be the smartest way of doing it. If there are regional nuances that can be captured and brought to the fore using AI, then things might be interesting."

Moving behind the first adoption level, Vennky thinks that brands will leverage AI this festive season in the following three ways: 

  • AI as a generative tool - This could be visual output, copy output or in some cases, small parts of the video output as well. 
  • AI as a personalized tool - When it comes to contextual advertising, brands are able to make use of AI to create personalized content. This could be in the form of personalized ads, emails or messages. 
  • AI for interactive experiences - Here the consumers can directly interact with the ad by using a certain hashtag, website, etc. and then get an AI-driven output. 

Beyond this, AI can also analyze vast amounts of consumer data, helping brands understand preferences, behaviours, and trends.

Arjit Sachdeva, Co-founder of VDO.AI thinks that to fully harness AI's potential in festive campaigns, brands should focus on data-driven insights and personalization. 

AI can also be utilized to tap into user behavior. According to a recent report, 44% of users are likely to participate in e-commerce festive sales this year. 

Vivek Kumar Anand, Chief Business Officer of DVio Digital, said, “During the festive season, many people in India go online. Google Insights tells us it's about 70%. They're looking for products, comparing prices, and searching for deals. For businesses, getting noticed by these online shoppers is super important. And here AI comes to help.”

Anand added, "Two words echo loudly when thinking of AI in the festive brand landscape: efficiency and delight. And that's precisely how brands are harnessing AI's powers."

Underexplored areas in AI

"Everything about AI is underexplored right now unless we come across 5 AI-powered campaigns a day; we haven't even scratched the surface," said Anupreet Singh, Chief Revenue Officer of Gan.ai. 

In the past year, the use of generative AI has increased manifold; however, most brands have limited their explorations and experimentations with AI to generate static posts & carousels. 

Amer Ahmad, Director of Technology at Blink Digital, is excited to see more work done in AR and behavioral/emotion recognition. 

Last month, Britannia rolled out its Independence Day campaign that used AR to pay tribute to India's living freedom fighters. The brand played on sentiments and aptly made use of AI to tap into the consumer's emotions. 

Mithun Mukherjee said, "There are new AI builds that are being constantly brought to the forefront. End-to-end video generation is a capability that seems to have come through in bits and pieces, but not a lot of brands have taken to it yet. We can expect a few of those in the near future."

In the advertising realm, there's a growing opportunity to use AI for ethical and responsible advertising practices. Arijit Sachdeva thinks that the intersection of AI and sustainability is one of the biggest underexplored areas. He said, "AI can play a significant role in helping businesses reduce their carbon footprint, optimize resource usage and make eco-friendly choices."

As the industry approaches the festive season, several AI trends are gaining momentum. Experts think that the industry will continue to make use of the current trends in the generative AI world, with some gradual push towards newer avenues. 

Raghav Bagai, Co-founder of Sociowash AI Studios, said, "We are definitely going to see an uptick in the use of generative AI for static posts & carousels during the festive season, especially for topical spots and offer creatives." 

Morzaria feels that the industry will make use of personalization at a large scale moving forward. Besides that, AI-generated music, real-time contextual advertising and chatbots will gain momentum.

“One of the trends that already seems to have exploded on the scene is CGI-based videos that almost look real. One can expect a lot more of those soon this festive season,” said Mithun Mukherjee.

Marketers are anticipating that this festive season, the Indian A&M industry will leverage personalisation as the core medium to communicate. Morzaria said, “When you can personalize thousands of messages at scale, your content becomes clutter-breaking and unique without putting a hole in your pocket.”

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