Digital Trends South Africa

#BizTrends2024: Leilah Potter - Pretend it doesn't exist or jump on the bandwagon, but AI is transforming the creative agency

While the use of AI by local agencies is still very much in the early stages - in part, because of the fear that AI-centric marketing will replace digital marketing talent - its potential is huge.
Image supplied. Sprout Performance Partners’ strategic growth manager, Leilah Potter, says while the use of AI by local agencies is still very much in the early stages, its potential is huge
Image supplied. Sprout Performance Partners’ strategic growth manager, Leilah Potter, says while the use of AI by local agencies is still very much in the early stages, its potential is huge

This fear is far from the truth, which is that AI is transforming organisations everywhere. For agencies, making the most of this emerging tech means taking the time to understand it so that you can strategically leverage it to make your job easier.

Forrester’s 2024 Predictions for Agencies found that the next wave of growth for agencies will be driven by their ability to shift economic models so that they can capture the full potential of artificial intelligence (AI) across their business.

While this might set off alarm bells for some – with any talk about AI often turning into conversations about job losses – the truth is that AI solutions present countless opportunities for savvy agencies to automate manual and time-consuming processes.

It automates repetitive and labour-intensive tasks, enabling people to be more strategic and work in a much smarter and more effective way.

In doing so, they will empower their teams to spend more time on creative production.

Additionally, AI makes it possible to scale marketing campaigns far more strategically because agencies can easily interpret and understand their data in real time.

Be more efficient and effective

AI can help marketing agencies be more efficient and effective by streamlining so many of their processes.

For example, agencies can use AI-enabled text-to-image tools, like DALL·E, to create brand-specific designs in seconds.

You do not need to have a team of designers anymore. You can have good prompt engineers and a comprehensive brand guideline and can pump out brand assets in a much faster time frame.

Being able to create bespoke images easily holds value in a country as diverse as ours.

With AI, it’s possible to boost representation across your creative work and make sure that what you are creating is inclusive and, thus, is more relevant to your target audience.

Achieve broader objectives

It all comes down to how technology can help businesses achieve their broader objectives.

To get this right, it’s essential to educate the business so that they understand what digital and performance marketing is and how AI factors into all of this.

It is the responsibility of business owners and executive teams to become as clued up as they can be about trends within the digital marketing space – AI included – because otherwise everything that they think they know and understand is based on assumptions.

Championing an agency’s tech agenda

Championing an agency’s tech agenda cannot be the responsibility of a single person.

If something like AI is only being driven by one person and that person’s voice isn’t the loudest in the room or their opinions are not respected among their peers, something like AI is never going to make it onto the business’ strategic roadmap.”

Securing buy-in across the business is important so that everyone understands how the investments you’re making or decisions you're taking will bring you closer to your shared business goals and objectives.

The overlap between marketing and tech

Today, there is a massive overlap between marketing and tech, which allows modern marketers to track everything from user experience to conversion rates.

This data empowers us to monitor campaign performance and quickly make changes to ensure that our marketing efforts bear fruit.

The real value of bringing marketing expertise and the right technologies together is that you can uncover insights about your customers that you might not have known.

Getting marketing to ‘just make something pretty’ can get eyes on your brand.

But you have to remember that there are audiences that have a higher propensity to purchase from you and audiences that have absolutely none. Their eyeballs are not the same.

Just because you have people looking at your site or your content doesn't mean that they have any intention to purchase.

Where a traditional marketer might say that all of those eyeballs are the same, a smart marketer will use technology and tools like AI to tell you that some eyeballs are more important than others.

AI already pervasive throughout the industry

Even those who aren’t actively investigating how to bring AI into their business are using it in some way already because so many of the products that the average agency leverages every day – from Google to Facebook – have AI baked into them.

It is already pervasive throughout the industry.

And so, in my opinion, you can choose to shy away from it, pretend that it doesn't exist or that it won't impact your business or you can jump on the bandwagon, see what it's all about, test different solutions, figure out what works best for your business and identify how it can help you do the work you do.

Until the point where AI is autonomous and can unlock insights alone, we will still need a human touch; someone to prompt the tech to get the best outcome, she continues. And the better the prompt, the better the results.

About Leilah Potter

Leilah Potter is Sprout Performance Partners’ strategic growth manager.
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