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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

How media companies can leverage AI wisely–for immediate benefit

November 6, 2023 | By Heather Allerdice-Gerow, Media Industry Lead – 3Pillar Global @3PillarGlobal

The phrase “content is king” may sound cliche, but it has never felt more true across the media industry. The rise of generative AI has pushed the media industry to a crossroads, with many companies looking across a landscape where agencies are using AI for creative and content seed ideas. 

Media companies, which own decades worth of content, need to decide not just if they want to use AI, but how they want to use it. There are advantages and risks in using different AI tools, and a misstep at this critical juncture could be costly for any media company’s long-term prospects.

Fortunately, there are ways to introduce AI for productivity improvements while also accounting for the various challenges associated with AI adoption.

The benefits of AI adoption

The media industry is full of challenges. Traditional newspapers and magazines are looking for new revenue opportunities amid declining ad revenue. Streaming services are trying to stem the tide of subscriber churn. And every single media company is competing for consumer attention and engagement in an era of unprecedented choice.

AI can help. Whether it’s buzzy generative AI or the more established predictive AI, there are applications that solve some of the media industries biggest challenges.

At a very basic level, AI can help with user personalization, creating unique experiences based on consumers’ interests, behaviors, connections, and other patterns. This can happen on a webpage, a streaming content library, or in an email newsletter. AI also has a firmly established track record with ad optimization, utilizing consumer behavior to match the best ads with the best prospective consumer on a website.

Then there’s the prospect of content creation, which is one of the capabilities getting the most attention right now. The ability to quickly produce small pieces of content, be it voiceover or an article summary, can be extremely helpful.

Protecting IP in the AI era

While those are all clear benefits, there are challenges as well – some obvious, some less-so. There are lots of off-the-shelf tools available, and brands can also pay to develop their own, which would live behind a firewall. Many media companies will look at the open-source platforms that are getting a lot of attention and think these are no-brainer choices, in part due to their recognition among consumers.

The availability and efficacy of these platforms may be appealing, but it is important to consider the danger in using open-source AI solutions. Many free platforms own the data, queries, and outputs, for every use of their platform. This extends to everything from articles, video voice over, animation, and images. Media companies that utilize these tools to build anything may run into ownership and licensing issues down the line, even if the original input was the media company’s own intellectual property.

Where to get started

To leverage and innovate with AI, media companies should first focus on cloud optimization and data cleanup. Since content IP is king for many media companies, the wise near-term solution is to focus on AI solutions that improve productivity while protecting IP. These solutions are available today, and offer a great deal of utility around productivity, automation, and, ultimately, cost savings. 

One big area is search engine optimization (SEO). AI can aid with both external SEO (how pages appear in engines like Google) and internal SEO (how pages appear in on-site search). Any improvement to search across helps customers and internal teams, encouraging more traffic and deeper engagement. 

There’s also digital asset management (DAM), which uses AI to index and leverage in-house content. DAM systems can ingest and index every media asset, including video, photos, written content, and audio, that has been published or that has never been shared with the public. The resulting index of these assets creates an amazing content discovery tool, allowing your team to leverage work that has already been produced. 

Finally, there’s dynamic content optimization (DCO), a cutting-edge digital advertising technology that uses AI to optimize the best version of ad creative to an audience. Media companies can leverage DCO within their own advertising to ensure greater campaign performance.

Navigating AI’s future

There are certainly pitfalls with adopting any nascent technology, and AI is no different. However, there are easy ways to lean into AI with simple, safe use cases while determining the risk of more complex applications. SEO, DAM, and DCO are all instant productivity tools that can be put into place without running into issues of ownership. All of these provide help, something that no media company can afford to turn down right now.

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