Digiday+ Research: When it comes to emerging tech, agencies and publishers only have eyes for AI

This research is based on unique data collected from our proprietary audience of publisher, agency, brand and tech insiders. It’s available to Digiday+ members. More from the series →

Agencies and publishers have always had to be on the lookout for the next big thing when it comes to emerging technology. This year, it turns out, that means bracing for the impact of artificial intelligence.

This is according to a Digiday+ Research survey of nearly 200 agency and publisher professionals that found that AI is expected to have a major impact on both the buy side and the sell side in the coming years.

More than three-quarters of both agency pros and publisher pros said that AI will have the biggest impact on their businesses over the next few years, making it the No. 1 emerging tech to watch in both industries. Specifically, 76% of agency pros chose AI as the tech that will have the biggest impact on them, while 79% of publisher pros did the same.

These results from Digiday’s survey make a lot of sense, considering that AI is a huge topic in experimentation this year for both publishers and marketers, especially as OpenAI’s ChatGPT tool continues to gain momentum.

On the buy side, marketers and agency execs are finding ways to incorporate ChatGPT specifically into their brainstorming processes, or to help cure writer’s block. So far, there’s no indication the technology will replace human copywriters, but an increasing number of marketers are thinking beyond ChatGPT’s free version about how the tool’s subscription version could fit into their creative processes.

And on the sell side of the coin, media executives are encouraging their editorial teams to experiment with ChatGPT and become familiar with how it works. It doesn’t appear that newsrooms are actually integrating the tech into their workflows just yet. But editors are starting to think about the applications of ChatGPT and the implications it could have on different parts of their businesses, like SEO-driven content and freelancing, for example.

ChatGPT has even found its way into search, powering Microsoft’s Bing search engine and accompanying the tech’s Edge browser. It’s clear why AI is top of mind for agencies and publishers, alike.

To really bring the point home, Digiday compared agencies’ and publishers’ anticipation about the impact of AI with other emerging technologies. And the anticipated impact of these other technologies absolutely pales in comparison with AI’s anticipated impact on marketing and publishing.

For instance, while 76% of agency pros said they think AI will have the biggest impact on their businesses in the coming years, the technology that accounted for the next-highest percentage was the metaverse — which only 9% of respondents said would have the biggest impact. And, very interestingly, metaverse actually tied with the response “none of the above,” which 9% of agency pros chose.

“None of the above” actually ranked second among publisher respondents after AI, with 15% of publisher pros saying none of the offered technologies would impact their businesses. And the third-place choice among publisher pros was blockchain, cryptocurrencies and NFTs, which a mere 3% of publisher pros said would be the emerging tech with the biggest impact.


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