AI continues to take the world by storm — most recently seen with the wave of generative AI. How are business leaders reacting? 

On Thursday, September 29th, Adam Singolda spoke at Zeta Live on a panel led by Steven Stein (President at Disqus, Zeta), between Jon Steinlauf (Chief U.S. Ad Sales Officer at Warner Bros. Discovery), Ajinkya Joglekar (SVP of Marketing at Sling), and David McNaughton (SVP of Marketing & Sales at Mediacom), which covered the role of AI in content and streaming, various challenges faced, and ethical considerations surrounding AI.

The Evolution of AI

The discussion began around the emergence of AI and whether the panelists saw the rapid growth coming ahead of time. Joglekar noted that overall, while generative AI was anticipated, the speed at which it permeated boardrooms, executive discussions, and everyday conversation was surprising.

Singolda explained the differences between the types of AI: machine learning (ML), deep learning (DL), and generative AI. He spoke to the role that deep learning plays in applications like search and social media matching. While Singolda has some skepticism towards the widespread adoption of generative AI, he acknowledged how the technology is bringing valuable tools to everyday people and that we shouldn’t be worried about it taking away jobs.

The Role of AI in Personalization

Joglekar explained how AI plays a crucial role in personalizing content and advertising — he discussed how Sling leverages AI and machine learning to understand customer preferences, enabling dynamic creative and better curation.

McNaughton emphasized the importance of customizable content that doesn’t make consumers pay for things they don’t want to watch. He said that video needs some improvement in order to get better at this. 

Singolda spoke about how he’s using AI to personalize the open web experience for users. He discussed how Taboola’s goal is to make the open web content experience similar to social media, aiming to promote quality journalism and meaningful content consumption.

Steinlauf, Joglekar, and McNaughton emphasized the importance of addressable advertising and how it enables one-to-one targeting. Singolda stated that while notifications can be overwhelming, people appreciate relevant ones and would even pay for them.

Challenges in Technology: Data and Ethical Concerns

McNaughton highlighted the importance of data in delivering personalized content but expressed concerns about data privacy and the challenge of gathering data in a changing regulatory landscape.

Joglekar spoke about the challenge Sling faces: how to promote discovery. He explained how the company relies on data and digital display to target individual customers effectively — giving viewers access to the content they originally wanted, while sharing other relevant suggestions.

Singolda emphasized the need for all companies with large distribution to consumers to fight misinformation when using AI and technology. He said that AI can be flawed if it’s trained on the wrong datasets. For example, if you’d ask generative AI to create 100 images of CMOs today, they’d all end up being white male — “garbage in, garbage out.”

Hope for the Future

Despite challenges and concerns, the panelists expressed overall optimism about the role of technology, including AI, in their respective industries. 

Singolda said he’s optimistic about the future. With generative AI stealing website traffic, it’s critical for publishers to emphasize personalization, which allows them to compete with places like TikTok. However, in order to do this, publishers need compensation and attribution if they’re playing a role in training the search engines’ AI tools.

McNaughton indicated that he’s hopeful about the acceleration of video and improvements to come.

Joglekar was particularly optimistic about how generative AI can be used as a tool to help us work better.

Steinlauf concluded the panel by saying the best combinations of humans and data will always win.

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