Research Briefing: Marketers ramp up use of generative AI for ad campaigns, as AI boom rolls on

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 →

Interested in sharing your perspectives on the media and marketing industries? Join the Digiday research panel.

In this week’s Digiday+ Research Briefing, we examine how marketers are creatively using AI in ad campaigns, how YouTube has postponed its co-viewing measurement plans, and how brands are finding TikTok extremely valuable for driving revenues and branding, as seen in recent data from Digiday+ Research.

71% of marketers use AI for consumer-facing copy generation

Hotel search company Trivago released a new ad campaign last week rooted in generative AI that used the tech to translate one actor’s voice into nearly a dozen languages. Trivago’s CEO Johannes Thomas said the company used to do 35 productions with 20 actors to reach 40 different markets. But that was “very costly and a long endeavor,” so the company decided to explore how AI might help make “something that is equally punchy” that would scale.

Trivago’s ad campaign is just one example of the many ways in which brands are incorporating AI into their marketing playbooks, as the generative AI boom that took off in early 2023 continues. Currently, chatbots and AI assistants are marketers’ No. 1 application of AI technology, with more than half of marketer respondents (51%) saying chatbots and AI assistants are the top natural language processing or AI technology their company uses in 2023. That is according to Digiday+ Research’s newly released report on the state of AI.

However, marketers’ second-most used application of AI technology is for copy generation — an application rooted in generative AI that has a range of applications, from writing content for websites, product listings and emails to composing internal KPI reports. Among marketers who use AI for copy generation, nearly three-quarters (71%) said they use copy generation for editorial and consumer-facing purposes.

Using AI for consumer-facing purposes is not without some risk. Many marketers and industry watchdogs are concerned about copyright issues that can arise with public-facing generative AI outputs, especially when there’s a lack of transparency around what data is used to train the models. OpenAI has been hit by a number of lawsuits regarding copyright infringement, for example. Currently, most marketers are using AI copy generation for lower-risk applications like writing emails or product copy.

Insights and stats:

  • Among marketers who use AI for copy generation, nearly three-quarters (71%) said they use copy generation for editorial and consumer-facing purposes — their top usage.
  • Sales communication is marketers’ No. 2 use of AI-generated copy, with almost half of respondents (46%) using it for B2B sales communication. Meanwhile, almost one-third of marketers (32%) use AI-generated copy for internal purposes, like writing reports.
  • “It’s not just about dubbing. We can now make the character say different things very easily without reproducing. So we can test scripts, we can tailor scripts to different audiences very quickly and bring this to dozens of markets and scale it very quickly. It’s actually a playing field that just lets us learn faster.” — Johannes Thomas, CEO at Trivago

Read more about the state of AI

Digiday+ Research digest

YouTube has postponed its co-viewing ad measurement plans, after it received pushback from ad buyers. The Google-owned platform had planned to start transacting against its own co-viewing measurement — i.e. accounting for multiple people in a household watching together — in Q1 2024, but it has delayed that start to Q4, according to agency executives who spoke with Digiday. Impressions are the second-most important success metric marketers consider when placing ads on YouTube, according to Digiday+ Research’s recent CMO Strategies series. However, co-viewing measurement isn’t an exact science and there is general skepticism around co-viewing measurement among some agency executives.

Insights and stats:

  • “What is their methodology? What is their panel? We have a lot more visibility into the methodology and framework of other measurement companies, not Google.” — one agency executive who spoke with Digiday
  • One-fifth of marketer respondents (20%) said impressions were the main metric of success they consider when placing ads on YouTube.
  • Watch time/view duration/average completion rate was the No. 1 success metric that advertisers consider when placing ads on YouTube, with 45% of respondents selecting this constellation of attention metrics.

Read more about marketers’ investments in streaming

TikTok’s gaming marketing team will celebrate its one-year anniversary in January, and the group has already generated some impressive engagement figures for 2024 game launches. One day after the first “Grand Theft Auto 6” trailer was released on Dec. 5, the #gta6 hashtag had generated over 10 billion views. The marketing team feels they’ve proven TikTok’s value as an ad channel for game developers. And more brands say they are finding TikTok extremely valuable for driving revenues and branding, according to Digiday+ Research surveys of more than 400 brand and retailer professionals throughout 2021, 2022 and 2023.

Insights and stats:

  • “We are very bullish. We are growing, and we’re going to continue investing in areas that are going to help the creative side of the industry.” — Assaf Sagy, head of global gaming at TikTok
  • Nearly a third of brands and retailers (32%) said in 2023 that TikTok is extremely valuable to driving their revenues, up from 8% last year.
  • The percentage of brands and retailers who have said TikTok is extremely valuable for branding has been trending upward. This year, 48% of respondents said TikTok is extremely valuable to their brand, up from 39% in 2022 and 24% in 2021.

Read more about brands’ investments in TikTok

See research from all Digiday Media Brands:

Digiday+ Research

Glossy+ Research

Modern Retail+ Research

More in Marketing

In the marketing world, anime is following in the footsteps of gaming

As marketers look to take advantage of anime’s entry into the zeitgeist, they might be wise to observe the parallels between the evolution of anime as a marketing channel and the ways brands have learned to better leverage gaming in recent years. 

With the introduction of video ads and e-commerce, Roblox looks to attain platform status

Roblox is expanding into more areas than just ads in 2024. Much like platforms such as Amazon and Facebook have transcended their origins to evolve from their origins as online marketplaces and social media channels, Roblox is in the midst of a transformation into a platform for all elements of users’ virtual lives.