Nick Watt
Nick Watt 24 July 2023

Revolutionizing the Attention Economy with AI

Welcome to our new series from Digital Doughnut, providing insights from industry leaders on key challenges and existential issues in marketing and tech. We'll explore topics like data privacy, customer experience, diversity, changing consumer behaviour, sustainability, and artificial intelligence. Our inaugural feature spotlights Dragonfly, an AI platform revolutionizing creative testing and analytics for major brands like Diageo, Haleon, and Craft, IPG's creative agency network.

Digital Doughnut editor-in-chief Nick Watt talked to the Co-founder and CCO of Dragonfly AI, Mark Bainbridge, about AI’s potential role in marketers' lives. We began by asking him about his background.

My career spans multiple industries and roles. Post-university, I started in Public Affairs at the National Trust, then moved to Operation Raleigh, the sustainable development charity, where I served as Marketing Director for nine years. 

Things took an unexpected turn when I joined the army as one of its first civilian marketers, eventually becoming Chief Marketing Officer. In the late noughties, I moved sectors again, this time to the Royal Bank of Scotland as head of group brand marketing, putting me squarely at the epicenter of the 2008 financial crisis. 

That was followed by a stint as Strategic Marketing Director at EMAP, where I was involved in building out the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. 

However, my long-held fascination with technology steered me in a different direction. Over the last 20 years, I’ve worked with several tech businesses, start-ups, and consultancies, culminating in Dragonfly AI.

Where did the idea for Dragonfly AI come from? 

The business was born out of a chance meeting in 2014 with a group of academics from Queen Mary University in East London, who were looking to bring their research and development to the commercial world.

How can AI mimic the human brain's visual attention?

We have developed mathematical algorithms that allow us to use the same formula as the human brain to process visual information. It enables businesses to see what the human brain sees in the first few seconds of engagement. 

The beauty of it is that it’s incredibly sophisticated, exact, and instantaneous, allowing creatives and marketers to take control of a design by understanding and predicting visual attention via Dragonfly’s creative intelligence. It's not just about what's happening now but also allowing brands to predict what will happen next. 

What are the benefits of using AI to unravel complex challenges?

AI uses more accurate information than we can humanly process to make complex decisions. But it must be structured and adequately thought through to be helpful. Otherwise, it's rubbish in equals rubbish out.

What role does AI play in enhancing visual creativity?

AI is helping businesses achieve better results by providing them with a new layer of insights they've not seen before. This is particularly true when it comes to understanding how creativity functions. It can analyse packaging, content design, in-store point of sale, ecommerce, advertising, digital assets, and even video content. 

"When a work of art created using AI won a prestigious prize last year, it caused quite a stir. More importantly, it signaled the start of a dramatic shift: AI spilling into a diverse range of creative industries."

This allows brands to remove all the bias and subjectivity about how creativity functions. In that respect, it’s a very disruptive tool.

How important is context in improving visual communication?

We talk about the level of exposure the average human gets; it's around 10,000 brand messages a day. Understanding the context in which a product or brand is being presented can significantly impact its visibility and overall success. 

The platform provides insights into how your product or brand is perceived within the context it is presented. For example, this is where our mobile app is really useful. A client can take it into a store and say, 'I don't want it up there; I want it down here because I can see it's getting more visual prominence in that location than the one you're offering me.’ 

Our AI provides a precise, objective analysis of how a product or brand is perceived within its displayed environment, allowing marketers to make informed decisions and optimize their strategies.

What role does AI play in helping brands improve sales metrics?

We are already demonstrating an increase in sales by using our AI. The platform can show how a product compares to competitors, allowing brands to design against what they're likely to be found with, both online and on the physical shelf.

We can also show why a product is ranking where it is in an online marketplace, such as Amazon. It can then provide insights on how to improve ranking and increase sales.

AI significantly enhances marketing performance by providing objective, data-driven insights that help brands optimize their strategies. 

What challenges do brands face in the future?

Brands need to determine what their ecosystem should look like in this new world of everything AI. I suspect that C-suites all over the planet are thinking, ‘AI, we haven't looked at it before, and now it's essential because everyone's using it. What's our strategy?’

And the answer is most won’t have one. We’re helping them navigate this new landscape, providing the tools and insights they need to make informed decisions.

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