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Advertisers using GenAI

Three in four ad companies use GenAI but many worry about risks

Three in four advertising companies already use GenAI or plan to use it soon. Optimism about its potential is matched by concern about the risks to brand reputation. Eight in ten have developed or are developing internal policies on use of GenAI, World Federation of Advertisers say. Immediate internal gains from using GenAI were cited as improved productivity and efficiency (89%), reduced costs (76%) and improved creativity (46%), a WFA survey shows.

45% of respondents say they are already using AI, while 33% plan to do so soon. Only 14% of respondents said they had no current plans to use AI for their marketing. “Respondents reported that generative AI is most commonly being used in the areas of content creation (74%), personalisation and customer experience (58%) and content ideation (55%).” 

“Most marketers are cautiously optimistic about the potential of AI in driving business growth, with respondents averaging seven out of ten when asked to grade their levels of enthusiasm.” 

“However, policy and legal respondents rated their enthusiasm much lower, at 4.5 out of 10. The immediate internal gains from using generative AI were cited as improved productivity and efficiency (89%), reduced costs (76%) and improved creativity (46%).”

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WFA says most respondents remain wary about the potential risks of generative AI to brand reputation. 

“Marketers on average rated their concern at six out of ten compared to their colleagues in policy and legal rating their concern at eight out of ten.”

The most commonly cited risks were data protection and privacy and IP and copyright, with 77% of respondents saying they were extremely or moderately concerned in both areas, the survey shows. 

“Other areas of concern were brand safety and adjacency and diversity, equity and inclusion with 71% and 54% of respondents saying they were extremely or moderately concerned respectively. Other concerns cited included regulatory developments, broader societal issues such as job displacement, impact on the creative industries and environmental sustainability.”

The survey shows a need for in-house capabilities training and greater transparency across their supply chains, WFA says. 

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71% said that they are planning on upskilling their employees on effective AI use as part of a responsible marketing strategy. 50% said they were ‘not fully or somewhat aware’ of how their supply chain uses generative AI on their behalf and 43% said they have reviewed or are reviewing service agreements with providers.

52% said that existing regulations (i.e. around data protection, copyright, non-discrimination) are insufficient to address the risks of using generative AI in marketing. 

“Respondents point to a lot of ongoing internal work to mitigate against the challenges with 81% saying they have developed or are in the process of developing internal policies on the use of generative AI.” 

“45% of respondents claim to have policies in place around data protection and privacy while 37% say they have policies under development. But fewer respondents claim to have measures in place for brand safety and adjacency (32%), IP and copyright (29%), DEI (21%) and environmental sustainability (15%) despite the well documented carbon emissions associated with generative AI.”

Only 5% reported having a Chief AI officer. 19% said a Chief Digital Officer was leading their AI strategy while 40% claimed a purpose built cross-functional team was leading their approach. Almost one in four said they have no single AI lead, opting instead for a decentralised approach.

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