Jess Wheeler's SXSW Diary #2 and #3: is AI out to get us?, branded content is boring and could 6-second spots be the future of television?

Screen Shot 2018-03-13 at 7.04.02 am.jpgJess Wheeler (far right), associate creative director at Fenton Stephens has been sent to SXSW 2018 in Austin, Texas. Wheeler is bringing daily updates for Campaign Brief readers, featuring only the very best of the conference.

AI: Friend or foe?

I'm always fascinated by listening to experts on artificial intelligence, as I can't think of another topic so heavily spoken about that always ends at the same juncture - 'we have no idea'.

Half are utopian, half are dystopian, and when the programmers and coders behind the movement can't explain some of the outcomes we're seeing, it's easy to see why such a rift exists.
The most significant point mentioned at Exploring Innovations In AI as an indicator to the coming 'singularity', when artificial intelligence surpasses our own, is the development of the AlphaGo Zero program. By training AI to play a game using human inputs, the AI would eventually figure out a way to win. However, when AI was then trained by AI, it developed its own ways to win a hell of a lot quicker. Ways that humans hadn't even considered. Scary stuff.

But fear not, Skynet is still on the distant horizon.

A good counterpoint was made to about how much data it takes for AI to learn. Even just to teach AI to recognise that a dog is a dog takes thousands and thousands of images and inputs, whereas even a two-year-old human can figure it out with relative ease. Toddlers are still more deadly than Terminators.

And here's where we always end. Fascinating topic, but no one knows where on Earth it's going.

Comforting isn't it?

SXSW-2017-27 (1).jpgBranded content is one long boring ad

Beyond Ads: Become Entertainment was a great look into the alternative forms of media that brands can use to, as the title suggests, become entertainment.

The panel opened with the notion that the term 'branded content' often refers to long 3 or 4 minute videos when it really should be so much more.

The best example is perhaps Werner Herzog's 'Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World', a Sundance-winning documentary on the origins of the internet. I've seen this doco and didn't even know it came out of an advertising brief for a company called Netscout.

HP has created an online series called 'The Wolf', GE's 'The Message' podcast reached #1 on the charts and Gatorade's Matchpoint Snapchat game based on Serena William's career was a worldwide hit.

Imagine if the brief was written with this in mind, how can we entertain people rather than advertise to them?

It's a shift in thinking that can only do wonders for our industry.

Gone in six seconds

The 6 second ad has been a thing of conjecture in adland.

It rose from the ashes of Vine and started appearing on social media platforms, but has taken a while to get right.

In the US, the 6-second spot is starting to gain traction on TV during live sport. Instead of cutting to an ad break when there's a brief stop in play, a 6 second ad pops up on screen and delivers a message while viewers are still engaged.

What can you say in 6 seconds? Well, about as much as you can say on a billboard or a print ad.

Some of the best examples shown were basically a headline, or an insight or prop, accompanied by a quick visual.

And they worked.

There's no reason why we shouldn't be doing this after every goal in an AFL match or between overs in the cricket.

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