3 Big News Stories that Went Viral This February, in (M)adTech￼
2023 has not been shy in coming forward. From AI intelligence and the rise of retail media, to the suing of Google’s advertising business. Let’s explore some of the biggest new stories from the last month.
1 | Have we lost the plot when it comes to ChatGPT?
Since its release into the public domain last November, the latest AI phenomenon, ChatGPT, has taken the world by storm. Whilst many praise its intelligence, there is a growing sense of uncertainty around what this truly means for the future.
In an article written by Lance Eliot in Forbes, he explores the consideration of AI ethics and regulations surrounding the rising use of AI intelligence. “A growing contingent of concerned and erstwhile AI ethicists are trying to ensure that efforts to devise and adopt AI takes into account a view of doing AI For Good and averting AI For Bad”. As with anything automated by machines, there’s no moral compass embedded within, and so the development of ‘Ethical AI precepts’ will hopefully prevent society from “falling into a myriad of AI induced traps”.
Further, the misuse of ChatGPT has already hit headlines this week in The Guardian, seeing the Vanderbilt University apologising for using an AI chatbot to write a consoling email to its students after a mass shooting. Pretty bad right? Wait until you read what the email said:
[The Michigan shooting, in which three students were killed, was a reminder of the importance of creating an inclusive environment. “One of the key ways to promote a culture of care on our campus is through building strong relationships with one another,”]
Nicole Joseph, an associate dean who signed the letter, said “While we believe in the message of inclusivity expressed in the email, using ChatGPT to generate communications on behalf of our community in a time of sorrow and in response to a tragedy contradicts the values that characterize Peabody College”
The negative headlines don’t stop there. In a recent survey conducted by the Chartered Institute of IT, published in The Independent, more than half of teachers think schools are unprepared for the impact of AI chatbots. In fact, there have already been examples of students using the tool to cheat for exam and coursework purposes.
Have we officially lost the plot with this tool? Are we getting our knickers in a twist for no real reason? This reminds me of 2010, when headlines were riddled with ‘Man vs Machine: The Robots Are Taking Over” in response to the rise of programmatic. And, look where we are now?
I personally think we need to change the way we are categorising this tool. Rather than see ChatGPT as a professional service, it should be seen as what it is – a technology tool aimed to reduce time wastage, and improve ways of working.
2 | The Never Ending Story, that is Google
Google is no stranger to headlines. In fact, it’s been hogging the spotlight for some time now within the (m)adtech landscape for various reasons. And 2023 has proven no different. Late January the tech giant finds itself being sued by the Department of Justice for monopolising digital advertising technologies.
In an article published by The Verge, Emma Roth explains how Google’s various acquisitions have allowed it to “neutralise” and or effectively “eliminate” competitors, and by default forcing companies to use its tools. “These interrelated and interdependent actions have had a cumulative and synergistic effect that has harmed competition and the competitive process.”
Google argues that the DOJ’s request for it to “unwind” two previous acquisitions from over a decade ago is an attempt to “rewrite history at the expense of publishers, advertisers and internet users.” It also states that Google doesn’t force customers to use its products and that people “choose to use them because they’re effective.” I’d beg to disagree personally.
Furthermore, in a BBC article released this week, US Supreme Court justices appeared unsure of tinkering with a legal shield for social media firms in a case that could reshape the internet. This came to light after the family of Nohemi Gonzalez, 23, who was shot by Islamic State gunmen in Paris in 2015, accused the internet giant of aiding and abetting the terrorist group by recommending its videos to users.
Google, unsurprisingly, has argued it is not liable, referring back to a decades-old law.
These headlines come in parallel with the news that Alphabet, Google’s parent company, will be cutting 12,000 jobs worldwide. News landed this week revealing 240 jobs are to be removed in Ireland, across sales, tech, engineering and support functions.
The digital marketing and advertising landscape feels messy right now. Particularly for the tech giants and the social media ecosystem. Alongside Google’s latest hurdles, Meta is being fined €390m by Irish Data Protection Commision, and Twitter continues to be in the eye of the storm ever since Musk took over. In fact, the billionaire announced this week further layoffs despite giving his existing team aggressive deadlines to revamp its ad business.
In a world where privacy is increasingly becoming number one for both consumers and the brands they love, the tech giants will increasingly come under the spotlight. But, will it make much difference? When you hold so much power, it’s hard to see how anyone else will be able to fairly enter the playground.
3 | The Future of the High Street
Hidden behind the main headlines this month is a little written gem about the future of retail. Last year, retail media became one of the most exciting verticals for the advertising and marketing arena due to its rapid innovation, and much of that has stemmed from the depleting highstreet. Even before the pandemic hit, our shopping centres were struggling, and the economic impact since has not helped.
In a lovely little article in The Drum this month, various industry veterans explore what the future holds for the retail industry. “Retailers will continue to experiment with live-stream shopping and remote advisory to ensure the attention of new customer demographics.” states Martin Ryan, VP of Retail as EPAM.
While the article celebrates future innovations around digital, many of the authors are hopeful that in-store physical shopping experiences will flourish once again, and consumers will be able to blend their digital experiences with reality. “Emotion AI is a form of artificial intelligence that marketers should be paying attention to; it allows us to better understand human emotion while shopping through text, speech and facial expressions. When done responsibly and thoughtfully, it can deliver a more personalised and tailored experience.” says Carly Johnson, VP and Group Director of Strategy, Momentum WW.
I’m really excited about the future of retail. Whilst I am a big advocate of retail therapy whilst lying horizontally on the sofa, I am finding myself yearning for the physical world more and more. I do think our future high streets will look extremely different to years gone by. In fact, it has the potential to be even better. The focus needs to be creating communities, and bringing people together in a hybrid on-and-offline environment. Sometimes I feel like the world is losing the plot, so the more we can bring people back together again, the better.
In fact, the incredible team here at Silverbullet created a report with our friends at mediarithmics last year regarding the future of Retail Media. Check it out 🙂
Until next month, stay safe, be happy, and drink wine.