AI Briefing: Cloud giants’ AI ambitions create new partnerships — and new competitive concerns

It’s spring, and the cloud giants are raining heavily on the gardens of AI.

Last week, Google’s annual Cloud Next event was replete with AI-related updates ranging from content creation and personalization to new features for enterprise adoption. However, the tech giant also announced new partnerships for its ecosystem with startups like Lytics and Pantheon, which will help marketers use generative AI to create personalized campaigns without third-party cookies. Google Cloud also announced a new partnership with Circana, which will help with data assets for media buying through Google’s BigQuery platform.

Google touted expanded partnerships with agency holding companies including Stagwell and WPP. With Stagwell, Google Cloud will power a new data clean room from Stagwell Marketing Cloud. Google Cloud also is one of the partnering powering WPP’s generative AI platform, which was updated to use the newly announced AI model Gemini 1.5 Pro. However, overall, Google’s keynote wasn’t all that focusing on advertising.

“I get the feeling that the cloud side doesn’t really want to gum up things with advertising or the notion that this is all part of the ad model that monetizes traffic,” said Gartner analyst Andrew Frank after Google’s Cloud Next keynote. “I think they’re trying to be very deliberate with enterprise applications and non-media applications.”

Lytics, a customer data platform, will allow marketers to find relevant audiences by combining first-party data while also automating content using Google’s Vertex AI platform based on what customers are likely to buy and content they’re likely interested in viewing. The tool uses the same interest graph as the Topics API in Google’s Privacy Sandbox.

“You have these two really critical data elements,” said James McDermott, CEO and cofounder of Lytics. “What do I know about this user, and what content do I have that I can deliver that will make sense and be relevant for this person?”

Competitors were active with their own updates. To wit, Microsoft said it’s opening a new AI hub in London and also investing $2.9 billion in AI and cloud infrastructure in Japan. Meanwhile, Amazon’s annual shareholder letter from CEO Andy Jasse said generative AI “may be the largest technology transformation since the cloud” and “perhaps since the internet.” One of the beneficiaries he mentioned was the cloud giant’s advertising business, which has been adding features for using AI to generate and customize images, ad copy and videos.

Beyond the Big Three, cloud data companies are also building out their own ecosystems. For example, Snowflake debuted its new Marketing Data Cloud with a number of partners such as Snap, Braze and others that will help with AI, personalization and other capabilities. 

Tech giants’ investments in AI startups are also attracting greater attention from regulators. Last week, the UK’s Competition Markets Authority released a new report that outlines key risks if tech giants restrict access to protect themselves from competition. (The CMA is the same watchdog overseeing the development of Privacy Sandbox.) And on this side of the Atlantic, the U.S. Dept. of Justice is reportedly investigating shared board members across various AI companies. 

“The essential challenge we face is how to harness this immensely exciting technology for the benefit of all, while safeguarding against potential exploitation of market power and unintended consequences,” CMA CEO Sarah Cardwell said in a statement about the report.

Prompts and Products: AI news and announcements

  • U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff introduced a new bill that would require AI companies to provide more transparency around the content used to their foundation models. The aim: To provide better insight into how AI models are trained and whether they use copyrighted materials.
  • Utah’s governor signed a new AI disclosure law called the Utah AI Act, that will go into effect next month.
  • Slalom, a consultancy, debuted a new tool to help various professions identify ways they might benefit from generative AI in their daily work.
  • Meta announced a new AI chip that aims to help power in-house AI workloads.
  • Humane released its new AI device called the AI Pin, but the $699 device was greeted with a bevy of bad reviews. 
  • BBDO Energy and Bayer-owned skincare brand Bepanthen debuted a new campaign in Mexico that uses AI to help kids create cartoons that represent their skin conditions. 

1s and 0s: AI by the numbers

  • A new survey from Morning Consult found millennial workers are more likely to use generative AI than other U.S. generations including Gen Z.
  • A new survey by SAP Emarsys found 64% of shoppers think AI has improved their retail experience, an increase from 51% last year.
  • Large language models are more likely to treat names differently based on race and gender according to a recent research from Stanford University.
  • An AI analysis by IV.AI found 76% of comments submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office expressed negative sentiments about AI and copyright. (Read more about the findings in last week’s deeper dive story.)

More AI stories from across Digiday:

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