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How AI Helps Generate Ad Creative That Performs

How AI Helps Generate Ad Creative That Performs feature image

Chief Creative Officer at Veritone One, Jeff Maerov, discusses how AI is a powerful tool for advertisers.



Jeff Maerov, Chief Creative Officer at Veritone One for over 6 years, has an extensive background in both creative strategy and creative direction. Wondering where AI fits into this equation? We were able to sit down with Jeff to discuss exactly that. Listen or read on below to learn the reasons why ad efficacy is important, how artificial intelligence helps in advertising creative, and how aiWARE helps Veritone One to scale advertisers’ messages where other agencies can’t.

Abridged Excerpts Below 

Veritone One: Could you share a little bit about Veritone One and how it got started? 

Jeff: Yes, absolutely. Veritone One started basically as the first test kitchen of the aiWARE technology that Chad and Ryan Steelberg developed. aiWARE,  gets us actionable intelligence in near real-time. In the ad business, we can use it to see what was said, how it was said, and the context around it. So any mentions of our client’s brands or any of their competitors, we’re getting that information in real time. So what Chad and Ryan did was they acquired a company called ROI, which was a performance ad agency and wanted to see what would happen if we supercharged what they were doing in the audio space using the power of AI and aiWARE. 

Veritone One: Veritone One relies heavily on artificial intelligence, an operating system called aiWARE. Can you share a little bit about that? 

Jeff: aiWARE is an incredibly powerful tool that extracts actionable intelligence from a piece of media. So what that means is you take a piece of video, audio, text, and in real time, we run engines against it, which gives us information. So that could be logo detection, facial detection, object detection, translation, transcription, and the uses of it are quite varied. We can use it in law enforcement, media, energy, and more. What Veritone One uses it for is really finding what is happening when our clients’ names are mentioned, either organically or in the produced spot that we did, or just in a news story. And we’re able to in near real time, see what was said, how it was delivered, and the context around it. It works just like a Google search or Google watch list on your computer, so it’s very user-friendly and it’s incredibly powerful. 

Why is ad efficacy so important? 

Veritone One: So how does AI based app verification work? Does aiWARE literally listen to all the shows or the shows we’re choosing to monitor, not just the ads but the whole episode?

Jeff: Yeah, absolutely. What it’s doing is ingesting 1000’s and 1000’s of hours worth of media. Letting us gather data from this information that a human couldn’t do. It’s really doing powerful work and returning the results in near real-time. 

Veritone One: So in the past, humans would have to do this. They would literally have to listen to the whole episode and note down that Company A was mentioned at 11:23 and six seconds, noting down every mention again and again. Then somebody would have to go back and find them while trying to correlate those words, conversations and mentions with the time they were used, and then correlate all of that to the efficacy of the ad. But why is ad efficacy so important? 

Jeff: You say that this happened in the past but there’s still a majority of people still doing it that way today. So what you do is get an aircheck. So when a station, podcaster, influencer or the influencers mom, who also doubles as their business manager, gets around to it, they would say here’s the ad or here’s the native mention of your spot and you get that 5-10 days later, which is not really useful because you can’t act on it.

AI allows us to do advertising differently, in the past – once a message was created – the writer’s job was done. But now, it’s just begun! With the old processes, you would wait for this aircheck to come back to you and you would hope, more likely pray, that it was done correctly, that the message was effective, and that everything worked out. With aiWARE we’re getting these results back in near real time. We can see things like, did they personalize the message that we asked them to deliver? Or did they mail it in? Did they use the right code? These are really important things and AI is the only way that a company like Veritone, which has thousands of pieces of copy going off each week, can review it, react to it, and provide feedback to our host or influencer before their next execution. So if there are changes that need to be made, or if they are doing something great, they get this information and either stop what isn’t working well, make adjustments or continue with what is working. 

Taking the guesswork out of advertising

Veritone One: So aiWARE really helps our clients or advertisers save money and just do it more efficiently and they’re getting more out of their ads because they’re getting more insight into if they’re working or not. 

Jeff: Yeah, AI’s superpower is that it takes the guesswork out of it faster so we can see what is going on, and what is working. We work very closely with our analytics team to see what is generating results. And once we have that information we can scale up with other hosts and influencers who hit the same target audience and get better results out of our messaging. 

Veritone One: So how exactly does Veritone One use aiWARE to iterate on creative for advertisers?

Jeff: The hosts and influencers know their audience the best. We provide them copy points that we think are compelling, but many times they come up with phrasing or an insight that resonates better with their audience. We can see what’s working in the analytics. And so if we see that spike, we go back and look at what’s going on. This allows us to immediately give that copy point to other hosting influencers to use. The other benefit of all of this, in terms of iteration, is that we can also see what competitors are doing. So if they’re saying something that seems to be resonating, we can adjust that to our message or counter with something that is even more compelling. So, let’s say your client is in the ride share business or the food delivery business, which has exploded. The name of that game is driver acquisition, and there are all sorts of incentives that they give out to drivers to acquire them. So let’s say you’re in Houston and you’re trying to acquire drivers and you’re offering drivers an incentive of $400 to sign up and be a driver for this food delivery service. Well, our client can go back and say, Hey, wait a second, they’re doing $400, we’ll do $600. And by the time that campaign is over, the competitor won’t even know what hit them and why their message wasn’t resonating. The reason this was so successful, was because we were quicker to make an adjustment and make an even more compelling offer to potential drivers. 

Veritone One: Got it. So a client can say listen, I’m working in this market, as you said. Listen to all the radio stations in this market, listen for this brand name, and listen to what they’re saying. And then you can go back and tag where that happened and go in and look at it and monitor it and even look for certain keywords. 

Jeff: Absolutely. And you know, when you set up a watch list, it’s not that much work. The aiWARE is automatically looking for this information and curating these results for you. So, you don’t have to do a Google type search every day for the same thing. The work is done for you, it’s delivered to you, it’s curated for you. And from there, you can use that information better and quicker than your competition.

Veritone One: It is literally triggering alerts like I do with a search engine. I have it trigger for me notifications of a word I have noted. So a new podcast comes out or a new article, a new blog, whatever, and it sends me an email going Hey, there’s this new thing going on here, our watch list does similar things and it literally can take them to the audio and listen to it as well?

Jeff: Yeah, absolutely. It takes you right to that clip. The other thing is the context around it. We have a lot of hosts who are popular and whose work can skew a little blue and that may not be comfortable for a lot of clients. So we can listen and say okay, what was the context? What were they talking about right before this? Or what were they talking about right after? That is information that you are probably not going to get from an aircheck. We are very protective of our clients and their clients’ brands. We think we are very good stewards of their brands. And part of that is making sure that they’re always presented in a light that they are most comfortable being presented in. 

Veritone One: Like you said, it’s going to find what happened before and after. That would have never been noted down. Now you can just jump right to that spot and listen because things have different contexts when they’re being said. You can say one thing one-way, but what you said beforehand really leads up to why that matters and how it sets.

Scaling content with synthetic voice

Veritone One: Are there any other advantages that AI uses that Veritone One is considering for insight with creative? 

Jeff:  I know you’ve talked a lot on the show about Veritone Synthetic Voice. We have several massive clients that put 1000’s of pieces of copy out there every week. And it’s a tremendous undertaking to do that. But what synthetic voice lets us do is be that much quicker. So it’s basically either text to speech or speech to speech. So the writer writes the copy that is obviously approved by the client, and that is ingested into Veritone Synthetic Voice and out comes a professional voice delivering that message. We know that it sounds right. We know that they’re no mispronunciations. We know that there are no wrong codes or offers which is a complete headache for clients. So we feel that this is an incredible tool. We’re excited to get started with it. We’ve got a few projects that should be released pretty soon that we’re really excited about. We see this as a game changer for how we do advertising and it’s a huge breakthrough. 

Veritone One: As we talked about earlier in regards to reacting to somebody else’s advertising, we could theoretically have a synthetic voice actor, somebody’s saying something Monday and Tuesday that we could have written a script to counter that, have the synthetic voice generated and generate it uniquely for each market. So it could say,  ABCD…., and then W X Y Z radio station at scale. So instead of a voice actor having to do it, let’s do it for 100 different radio stations. We can train it and have an artificial intelligence generate that text and send it off to these radio stations literally the next day. 

Jeff: Correct. It speeds up the production process. It limits the number of errors and it’s a way to be quicker and more reactive to what’s out there.

Veritone One: Anything else exciting going on at Veritone One that’s worth sharing with our audience at this time for better tracking of advertisements or client mentions that AI is helping facilitate?

Jeff: I would say that the big picture is that AI allows us to be nimbler. And that’s really the main benefit. We get to insights faster than anyone else and we adjust and optimize a lot faster. And I think that’s a huge thing that our clients appreciate about us. And once we’ve honed in on what’s working well, then we can scale and spread with more hosts and more influencers. So once we know what we’ve landed on, what’s working, we are able to deploy it a lot quicker. At our agency, Veritone One, we work at a speed that without AI it’s just not possible. We work with a ton of great clients who are very active, who have tailored messaging to a lot of different audiences, using lots of influencers and podcast hosts, radio personalities, as well as produced spots and getting it all out there and making sure that it’s going off as error free as possible. That’s the huge benefit. 

The rise of media consumption

Veritone One: So we talk a lot about the use of AI on our products to facilitate and help what we do. But we’re not just a software company. Veritone One is really more of an agency that’s using technology, but also experts in the area of advertising. When we’re talking advertising, we’re not just talking radio anymore. We’re talking podcasting as well, right?

Jeff: We’re a full-service ad agency that uses the power of AI. We happen to be owned by an AI company, but that’s who we are. The audio landscape has exploded. I think that’s readily apparent. It’s not cannibalizing other brands or other media. So people are still listening to radio, but in addition, they’re listening to a ton of podcasts, they’re listening to streaming. The influencer marketing that we do with YouTube and other platforms is growing exponentially. Consumers are consuming more media, and it’s not at the sacrifice of more established media. 

Veritone One: To find more information about Veritone One, go to the website called VeritoneOne.com. There is some good information and ways to contact us and some customer examples. But I think there’s a really good blog on there talking about trends in radio, trends in podcasting, trends in advertising, and also a great number of success stories too. Is there anything else on the site that you think I am missing there? 

Jeff: No, I think you get to see examples of what we do, a little bit of who we are. The blog that you mentioned, there’s a lot of great thought leadership that comes out of our agency, as well as information on what’s going on in advertising and marketing, very current and up to date. And also you have the ability to set up a discovery call with us and see how we can help your business if that’s what you’re looking for. 

Veritone One: I believe there’s a reference to a few podcasts on there too. Not podcasts for Adventures in AI, but actually more podcasts about podcasting. So, also some fine podcasts recorded there from talking to other industry experts inside our organization and also in the advertising space. 

Jeff, this has been interesting. I’m excited to see how this grows and changes. It’s really exciting what’s coming along with our new synth voice and how that’s gonna change and I’ll be listening for that soon on the radio, a podcast coming soon. Anything you’d like to say before we close up here? 

Jeff: AI and creative are something that’s not to be feared. I think this is a message for my co-workers and my creative brethren in the industry. It allows us to do our job in ways that we’ve never been able to before, with near real-time feedback and the ability to make adjustments is a huge game-changer. It opens a world of possibility. No one is better than a creative thinker to help shape what will be next. AI is a tool that we can use for us to be even more creative and think of even more impactful ways to get messaging out there. 


Enjoyed reading this article? Check out our blog on podcast advertising with our SVP of Podcasting and Influencer Marketing, Stephen Smyk, as he discusses placing his first podcast influencer ad–in 2007.