CANNES—Machine learning and artificial intelligence stand to fuel the mass personalization of advertising messaging, but right now that’s “a little bit more of a bridge down the road,” says Publicis Spine CEO Lisa Donohue.

In this interview with Beet.TV at the recent Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Donohue explains how data “opens up everything in the creative process, from start to finish. It’s all about personalized experiences for the consumer.”

She sees an industry facing “a ton of transformation, and to a certain degree there’s pressure on that transformation.”

But on the other side “there’s just so much enthusiasm for that change. What’s possible is amazing. And what we can do to build consumer experiences is very powerful and so you see a lot of optimism from people.”

Asked by interviewer Jon Watts, who is managing partner of research and strategy consultancy MTM, about the challenges agencies face in mastering data and technology, she admits those haven’t traditionally been core competencies. “Agencies are historically a service-based business. However, there are lots of industries that have had to change and pivot from what their core business is.”

Spine was created by Publicis in the fall of 2017 as a team of 3,500 engineers, data scientists, analysts and tech leaders to serve as a platform that helps brands to target specific individuals, as Advertising Age reports.

“At the core of it what we’re really trying to do is foster both the marketing transformation and the business transformation side of it. In the center of that is the consumer,” Donohue says.

“Clients are very rich with data. It’s usually not that they don’t have data, it’s that their data is housed in silos and it’s not connected. So we help them very much with that.”

If agencies understand their clients’ growth objectives they can determine which consumers they need to talk to. “And that helps us ideate. Even at the ideation stage data can be very informative. Then as you go into personalization, data can help us create versions, data can help us create sequential messaging and better storytelling and “even start to get the toe in the water of dynamic creative,” Donohue says.

Will there be thousands of creative within the same campaign? “There can be. If we better understand where a specific consumer is in the journey, then we know what message they need to hear at that point in the journey and to move them along to the next phase.”

Donohue isn’t suggesting that such personalization is just around the corner.

“We have all talked about it at length and we all know that it’s going to make sense and it’s going to help both consumers and brands. But there is a lot of work to implementing it, especially when you think about implementing it for global brands.

“Implementing a strategy like that in Russia is very different than the US and it’s very different than Brazil. So I think it’s really going to be focused on how do we take the promise of personalized experiences and be able to implement it sustainably,” Donohue says.

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