When IBM engineers developed their artificial intelligence engine Watson to compete in the TV game show Jeopardy! 10 years ago, they may not have expected that it would, one day, also help power the targeting of TV and other ads.

But that is now the prospect Big Blue finds itself with, now that Watson is being sold as a way to improve brands’ marketing results.

Having already toured the Cannes Lions advertising show on a trip to pitch Watson to agencies and the ad community, IBM chief digital officer Bob Lord, in this video interview, tells Beet.TV: “In the programmatic world, there is a very big role for a tool like Watson to help in that decision-making.”

Specifically, Lord says Watson‘s mix of artificial intelligence, machine learning and, generally, cognitive computing capabilities can help advertisers answer questions like “What is the appropriate buy?” and “What is the best creative to actually serve to that individual to create a value exchange between the individual and the brand?”

Lord thinks that is an area that programmatic users have not yet exploited well enough. So how exactly could Watson help?

“We only really have access to 20% of the world’s data right now,” he says. “A tool like Watson allows allows a media planner to get in to this unstructured data, dark data – the videos, the imagery, the conversations that people are having, so that you can get a better profile of an individual.”

So, Watson could take cues about individuals, from their geographical origin to the interests indicated by their social profiles, and turn them in to signals that ad platforms could use to customise creative delivery, Lord adds.

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