Mike Margolin, RPA: "AI is powerful, but the effects, including unintended consequences, need to be closely considered along the way."

As an industry, it is our responsibility to play an active role in shaping AI's inclusion

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(Image provided by RPA's CEO, Pete Imwalle, via Midjourney + Photoshop AI)

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Mike Margolin
Chief Experience Officer RPA

Food for thought: "Is AI in Advertising going to be helpful or harmful? Let’s ask ChatGPT. Actually, let’s not. Because letting large language models predict our AI-enabled future would mean forfeiting our opportunity to define it." 

RPA's Chief Experience Officer, Mike Margolin, weighs in on the great debate on using AI in advertising, and delineates the opportunities that come with its exploration.


Does your agency encourage or deter the use of AI in your work? If applicable, how does your team integrate these tools into the creative process?

Our most effective people are highly curious while being great collaborators. Naturally, we’ve encouraged exploration and understanding of AI across virtually all functional roles. From AI-driven audience development to advanced analytics to platform-specific creative optimization, we’ve long benefited from AI baked into our technology partners’ platforms, including Adobe, The Trade Desk, Salesforce, and Innervate. Since the launch of new GenAI tools, we’ve enhanced our creative process by sharpening our strategy briefs and for creative ideation and inspiration. Our studio can now knock out animatics in hours (that used to take days or weeks). Our developers and data analysts use GenAI to check code and for data cleaning. Prompt engineering is a highly valuable skill that everyone needs to learn, much like how mastering Google Search empowered knowledge workers 20 years ago.


How does the accessibility of these tools affect the way it is used?

Accessibility of AI tools will be a big area to follow. Some tech firms (Amazon, Meta) have established partnerships with the open-source community in hopes of gaining traction for their foundational models and data sets. Some others (Twitter, Reddit) wall off their platforms to prevent data scraping. Microsoft is an obvious strategic partner. Much of the excitement will come purpose-built AI tools (we’re applying several to assist with workflow automation), but most new companies will likely struggle to commercialize long-term. Much like the dawn of social media, innovation from upstarts will mostly serve as distributed R&D for the large tech firms.


As AI advances, how is the role of the creative redefined? In what ways do you see the landscape of creation changing/shifting in response to AI?

We see big implications for creativity with GenAI. The cost of creating generic content is moving rapidly down to zero. Last week I heard about a company that’s publishing hundreds of thousands of web pages a day. We’ll soon see a flood of content that’s 95%–100% AI-generated, and the commensurate noise-to-signal ratio seems ominous. So, we’re focusing on a) doubling-down on distinctive strategic insights, b) experimenting with new AI applications to optimize workflows, and c) protecting the intellectual property of our clients and IP owners. Our creatives have been bolstering their tools and skills. Prompt engineering will be essential to enhance creativity for writers and designers. I’m most excited to see how their work will flourish.


If AI furthers its capability to create and think, what is a responsible way to use these new technologies?

Of course, we’re only in the early stages of AI development. Long-term, I like Marc Andreessen’s view: being a technology optimist while taking one step forward at a time, being humble and setting realistic goals. Throughout history, technological advancements have largely been incredibly positive for society – improving health while raising standards of living. AI is powerful, but the effects, including unintended consequences (legal, societal, and economic), need to be closely considered along the way.

Self-determination is one of the foundations of Western thinking, and if we don’t play an active role in designing our AI future, it will be determined for us. Agencies need to find ways to use AI to advantage in our operations, to be more indispensable, more insightful, and more valuable to our clients. Similarly, for brands – if you don’t play an active role in determining your distinctiveness, you can expect what you create to be quickly commoditized. And that’s a future that no company with a strong brand should ever want.