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Artificial Intelligence in Local TV: What Role Will It Play and What Will It Look Like?

September 5th, 2018   ||    by John R. Osborn   ||    No Comments

Artificial intelligence (AI) can summon up futuristic images of The Terminator arriving to destroy humankind, or HAL, the central computer on the ill-fated spacecraft from 2001: A Space Odyssey. In 2011, IBM’s Watson used AI to beat top Jeopardy champions on TV. Though AI is often depicted on TV, what is the role of artificial intelligence in local TV buying and selling?

What Is AI, and How Is It Used in the TV Business?

First, it helps to define artificial intelligence. Leverage’s Calum McClelland differentiated AI from machine learning and deep learning, terms often used interchangeably, stating on Medium that AI “involves machines that can perform tasks that are characteristic of human intelligence.” Machine learning is a way to accomplish AI, and deep learning is one approach to machine learning.

We already see possibilities for artificial intelligence in local TV as digital media organizes big data generated from recognition of viewing contexts and behaviors. OTT T/V (Television/Video) players such as Netflix and Amazon already employ powerful algorithms to prompt programs of interest to viewers based on ones already seen. Addressable T/V and programmatic TV are employing some AI to optimize placements.

How else is AI being used in the TV industry?

A Smoother Buy/Sell Process

As automated guaranteed buying arrives for programmatic TV, AI is helping to effectively find and match buyers and sellers. AI can also help make the intelligence and support for the buy/sell process more collaborative, as Publicis does to break down its silos according to MediaPost. Companies like Havas, reported another MediaPost article, expand its use of AI to better understand the consumer experience.

Better Targeting

Through AI, content providers will also continue to improve targeting and personalization. As audiences become identifiable by screen, huge amounts of data processed by AI will allow the right ad to be delivered to the right person or home at the right time. Isn’t that what media buyers have been shooting for since commercial television was invented?

A MarTechSeries article on TV and AI described how AI can sift through offline and online user behavior data to gain insight on consumers’ purchase intents—and therefore target them with relevant ads. AI can even determine how ads impact consumers’ behavior. MarTech gave the example of a household viewing an ad for a one-day sale on trucks at a local dealer. If a mobile device shows that the household went to the sale, one can assume the ad had impact.

As TV becomes more interactive, it will employ personalization that other digital platforms offer through AI-driven processes. Real-time behavioral indicators is one example, which MarTechSeries defined as “the ability to read real-time buying signals . . . and detect even temporary shifts in preferences.”

MediaPost recently ran a piece entitled “Don’t Underestimate AI Just Because It’s Overhyped” with a Bill Gates quote that “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10.” For those playing the long game, it’s wisdom well worth heeding.

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