AI Is Supercharging Personalization – but Brands Can’t Ignore Creative Standardization

By David Zapletal, Chief Operating Officer, Digital Remedy

As brands and agencies continue to move forward in their adoption of AI tools in their advertising efforts, the challenge has always been to acknowledge and react to the value and the limitations of the technology. Much of the work that needs to be done toward that challenge happens behind the scenes. But ad creative belongs out in the open, obvious to the broader public. This matters as brands and agencies investigate the benefits of using AI for creative personalization. AI greatly increases the number of creative variations that can be produced for a campaign, which would be hard to scale with normal dynamic creative toolsets. But with all of those personalized creatives – specifically when they’re generated in real time – there are potential pitfalls in the standardization necessary to pass creative audits through leading ad platforms and premium publishers. Brands and agencies will need to look for AI tools that can solve the challenge of standardization, upholding platform and publisher specs and providing the most relevant, brand-appropriate user experience.

The digital industry is right to embrace the efficiencies and cost savings offered by AI’s ability to create a vast amount of personalized creative. But AI output requires human oversight. As we’ve seen, generative AI tools can produce biased language, factually untrue statements, and off-brand messages. Brands need to be on high alert, ensuring real-time AI-driven ad creative is accurate, on-brand, and compliant. But publishers and platforms are on very high alert. The integrity of their own content and brand is at stake here: Most consumers don’t know the adtech landscape well, and will hold publishers accountable for all content on their sites, including advertising.

A new set of AI-specific creative requirements is coming

Publishers need to ensure the audiences and communities they serve are not exposed to inappropriate ad creative that doesn’t align with their own ad policies. The trend toward real-time AI creative generation, then, is ushering in a new set of creative requirements, driven by publishers’ specs and concerns, that brands and agencies will need to uphold and the DSP auditing service will need to verify. Realistically, this means agencies and brands need to expect new requirements – and to expect industry-certified generative AI toolsets will come to the fore to better ensure compliance and alignment. Off-the-shelf AI tools simply won’t be nuanced enough for the task at hand. We can expect a massive AI evolution to unfold in the near future: Not only will we be seeing certified AI tools emerge, we’ll be seeing DSPs add a new AI-specific category in creative audits – a category publishers will be able to opt out of if they choose. This will include technical and sensitive attributes that give publishers more control over the ads that appear on their sites.

We know that AI can generate ad creatives that violate site policies. For example, one site might have a limit on the amount of animation permissible in an ad. Other sites will have lists of keywords and terms that can’t be used in a creative. There are so many publisher-specific

guidelines for an ad platform to consider. And platforms that enable media to be served will need to keep up with the volume of real-time AI-generated creative.

The digital industry must take the initiative

As it stands, neither regulation nor standardization of AI creative are on the horizon. In lieu of that, we’ll likely see a trade group such as the IAB to launch a working group to assess the issue. But AI evolution is happening too quickly for platforms to wait for outside guidance. Right now, each ad platform will need to create policies that limit what elements of an ad creative AI is allowed to modify. Brands need those guardrails in place, and because a human review is an important part of creative oversight, platforms will want to look for any processes they can automate. In particular, creation of assets, verification by platforms and publishers, and creative delivery and optimization are ripe for automation – worth highlighting because AI will be creating these assets at a faster pace. Automation will lift some of the burden from the human team and will make quality control and oversight more efficient, by working proactively to flag clear violations of publisher ad policies. This will make quality control and oversight more efficient, by working proactively to flag clear violations of publisher ad policies.

Transparency and custom tools enable brands to proceed with AI confidently

Brands and agencies will need the ability to customize AI creative generation to adhere to publisher and platform creative requirements – which we can expect to evolve as AI matures – and this will require investment in the brand’s custom GPTs. Custom GPTs will ensure AI tools are trained, and that those tools “know” the limitations posed by creative specs. While it may be tempting, this is not the time for brands and agencies to rush their adoption of AI tools for the purposes of creative personalization. Businesses should pace themselves, make strategic hires to bring in talent who understands how to communicate with AI for best results, and set cautious goals and expectations.

Furthermore, as the ad industry can expect AI regulation to come eventually, advocacy groups and industry stakeholders will be pushing to advise regulators and educate lawmakers on the implications of the technology. But that’s just one step: We also must educate the public, who aren’t AI experts. We need to be honest and transparent about the effects and performance of AI tools – what’s going well, and what still needs work. A lack of transparency will only backfire for brands and agencies. After all, when AI personalization produces biased language, off-spec creative, and off-brand messaging that inadvertently makes its way through creative audits, the consumer is the first to notice.

Tags: AI