AI Briefing: NewFronts bring a week’s worth of AI news for advertisers

At last week’s annual IAB Newfronts, major ad-funded platforms were busy announcing a range of new content, ad formats and measurement tools.

While major social platforms announced new AI upgrades for users and advertisers, streaming TV startups also unveiled new ways to use visual AI and machine learning for targeting and measurement. Meta talked about using AI to predict organic creator content for paid partners, using ML to suggest creators for brands and tools for resizing videos for Reels. Hours later, TikTok said it is adding generative AI to its Pulse Lineups ad product while also vowing to challenge the newly signed ban in U.S. court. Snap, which positioned itself as “not social media,” discussed ways it is using AI to help create augmented reality lenses for users and advertisers within minutes. 

Giants like Samsung also focused their events on ways they’re using AI for content, ads and audiences. Meanwhile, streaming providers that announced new AI tools include Canela Media, which said it’s using AI for contextual ad targeting like having an engagement ring ad during a romance show. Another, Samba TV, said it’s working with advertisers to beta test its new Samba AI platform that uses visual AI to identify people and products in shows to help with contextual targeting and measurement. 

“You can see data about the actors, the scene, the sentiments, the context for the first time in history,” Samba TV founder Ashwin Navin said during a live demo on stage for its NewFront. “We’re recognizing products that are on screen and mapping those to those available online today to purchase.”

Kicking off the week was Google, which also had closing arguments on Thursday and Friday for its antitrust trial over search and search ads. One new AI feature will let marketers generate potential audience segments based on a campaign’s goals, which will be followed soon by more CTV-specific signals like content genre and whether content is live.

Bill Reardon, gm of the enterprise platform at Google Ads, gave the example of a sneaker brand that might not have realized they should target people in the market for concert tickets or that might want to pay a different price for ads shown to sneaker collectors vs. someone that buys an occasional pair. 

“You’re no longer limited to lower funnel signals,” Reardon said. “…We now also include brand awareness and consideration objectives, which means you can optimize for things like time on screen.”

In remarks before Google’s presentation, IAB CEO David Cohen said the group’s 2024 survey of marketers found that a third of companies are already using AI to help with first-party data sets. While predicting AI’s ubiquity across the marketing industry, Cohen also cited the famous quote from John D. Rockefeller: “Don’t be afraid to give up the good for the great.” 

There’s perhaps an irony in Standard Oil’s founder being quoted at a Google event last week. In 1911, Rockefeller’s company also faced its own antitrust case under the Sherman Act, which led to Gilded Age oil monopoly being broken up. However, it’s hard to know whether Cohen’s choice of words were anything more than mere coincidence.

Despite all the promises of AI — and the countless concerns — companies at the NewFronts didn’t spent too much time talking about their strategies for safely developing and deploying AI models and applications. Privacy also took mostly a back seat other than the occasional mention during various presentations.

Prompts and Products: Other AI news

  • U.S. Senators introduced a new Secure AI Act, which aims to prevent safety breaches for AI systems.
  • AI came up a few times during closing arguments in the antitrust trial between Google and the U.S. Dept. of Justice. (Read more in our stories from Thursday and Friday.)
  • Newly unsealed documents in the Google antitrust case showed a 2019 email from Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott, who told CEO Satya Nadella that he was “very, very worried” about being “multiple years behind the competition” when it came to training large language models.
  • Major publishers announced new AI deals with tech companies. While the FT will let OpenAI train AI systems with its content, Axel-Springer’s expanded deal with Microsoft includes more ways to experiment with content and ads through chatbots.
  • A group of eight newspapers filed a lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft alleging the tech companies violated copyright laws by scraping their data to train AI models.
  • A data privacy group filed a new complaint in Europe against OpenAI, claiming the startup violated GDPR with its high level of inaccuracies. 
  • OpenAI is reportedly preparing to announced its own AI search engine, which would compete with other startups — like Perplexity, You, Arc, and Brave — along with giants like Google. 
  • Globant, an AI company, announced a new sponsorship with F1 that will include brand integrations and ways of using AI to improve digital information for fans and teams.
  • Last week, the generative AI startup Runway hosted an AI Film Festival in Los Angeles and plans to host another screening this week in New York City.
  • Amazon announced general availability of Amazon Q, its enterprise business assistant, which can also help employees use natural language to describe apps they’d like to build with their own enterprise data.
  • Quarterly earnings from companies including Amazon, eBay and Apple mentioned ways they’re using AI for business parts of their businesses. Apple CEO Tim Cook also told investors he sees a “big opportunity” for generative AI across the business to expect more AI updates soon. (Apple will also host an event this week with more hardware and software news.)

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