AI & Machine Learning

April ad and martech trends

The cookie conundrum; ad creative and GenAI fatigue; TikTok ban countdown

April was an exciting month for the advertising and martech industry. From new legislation threatening to ban TikTok, to GenAI fatigue and flops, and the seemingly never-ending cookie saga, there was plenty to talk about.

Cookie conundrum

On April 23, Google, in a surprising, yet admittedly predictable move, announced that it will, once again, delay retiring third-party cookies – its original announcement was made in 2020 and there have been three delays since. Google’s official statement cited, “ongoing challenges related to reconciling divergent feedback from the industry, regulators and developers,” as a significant consideration in the postponement. While a new timeline hasn’t been established, the new date is anticipated for some time in 2025.

For some this may be a relief, for others it may feel like another hurdle to overcome for testing and developing cookieless-solutions. Our advice for marketers? Forget Google’s schedule and, instead, make investments in first and third-party data; get identity resolution processes in order; and prioritize AI-ready data to prepare for if and when we’re met with the cookie’s demise.

Bye-bye TikTok?

The very next day, President Biden signed a law to ban TikTok nationwide, citing national security concerns because of TikTok’s Chinese ties, unless it is sold within 270 days. While many in the industry are not convinced this will truly result in a ban, but rather end in a forced sale, TikTok is prepared to fight, and they are expected to file suits to delay enforcement or void the law entirely. What does this mean for advertisers? Especially those who have sunk resources into TikTok as an invaluable channel to reach the coveted Gen Z market? In Ad Week’s, “How Ad Buyers Are Advising Clients as Possible TikTok Ban or Sale Looms,” experts “recommend platform diversification shifts, especially to Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts and Reddit.” However, the article cautions that even in the case of a sale, there could still be a temporary ban.

GenAI fatigue and flops

Generative AI (GenAI) continues to be a hot topic, but this month, the tone has taken a turn with media outlets reporting GenAI fatigue, oversaturation and poor or cavalier use. Ad Age reports that “advertisers are becoming more wary of AI as the technology continues to reflect growing pains, particularly with respect to bias and mischaracterization.”

This theme is even bleeding into entertainment, The Drum wrote a piece about a particular miss involving independent film studio A24. “A series of AI-generated images promoting Alex Garland’s new dystopian flick, Civil War, has the internet up in arms, sparking fresh concerns about the technology’s role in entertainment and the need for labeling mechanisms.” And they’re not alone, major brands are also struggling. Rogue chatbots and AI confusion over social issues and transparency are top contributors to AI flops and contribute to content that lacks sensitivity or cultural awareness.

Adding to this is the concept of AI Washing – where companies are falsely boasting or exaggerating AI capabilities for their product or service that may or may not be an accurate representation. Business Insider contends that “mid all the unknowns that surround artificial intelligence, one thing is true: Almost everyone is a little bit lying about it at the moment.”

Forbes provided some tips to spot AI Washing, noting marketers will often: overstate their capabilities, misleadingly use the term ‘intelligent’, offer very vague definitions, and downplay the amount of human input involved.

AI isn’t perfect and people are noticing – and expressing concern. As regulations continue to be introduced and refined, we can expect to see more defined measures to reign in how AI can be used and represented, which is important for consumers to maintain (or regain) trust. Suffice it to say, there is a lot left to figure out and this is just the beginning.

Data Axle is a proponent of GenAI, and we fully embrace it, but we also know that algorithms can’t replace empathy and our people are our biggest strength, supported by our data and technology. Disruptors are common in this industry and being responsive and nimble is second nature. This month was a wild ride and we’re looking forward to what’s to come.

Data Axle is making headlines

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  • Best Travel Online Newsletter Campaign
  • Best Travel Email Message Campaign
  • Best Hotel and Lodging Email Message Campaign

Programmatic Ads and the Death of Cookies: What Marketers Need to Know

Data Axle Expands Business and Consumer Data Coverage, Strengthening Linkages and Intent Signals

See you here next month!

Courtney Black
Courtney Black
Senior Public Relations Manager

Courtney is a seasoned communications and public relations professional with 17+ years of experience working in both the public and private sectors in diverse leadership roles. As Data Axle’s Senior Public Relations Manager, she is intently focused on elevating the company’s media relations presence and increasing brand loyalty and awareness through landing coverage in top-tier media outlets.