Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

A new study from one of the world’s biggest ad firms, its digital ad agency and a programmatic ad tech company suggests that digital ad campaigns optimized by machine learning tools outperformed campaigns managed by humans over the course of one month.

Expand chart

Data: Magna Global; Chart: Axios Visuals

Why it matters: Although advertising has traditionally been a creative industry, stakeholders — like agencies, ad tech firms, and even brands — are pushing the effectiveness of their automation and machine learning tools, to lure clients that are focused on cost-efficient data-driven ad campaigns.

The study was conducted by:

  • IPG Media Lab, the media advisory arm of Interpublic Group (one of the world's biggest ad holding groups)
  • MAGNA, the investment and innovation unit within IPG Mediabrands
  • and true[X], a programmatic ad tech company.

It suggests that humans and machines need similar exposure to an ad campaign to learn, absorb patterns and predict incomes. Given that same input, the machine-learning programs performed better than humans at optimizing the campaign — basically, putting the most effective ads where they will have the most impact.

  • For example, the average number of ad impressions across all three experiment campaigns that it took to reach a consumer with a human-managed ad campaign was 4.13, while the average number of ad impressions that it took a machine to reach a person was 3.08.
  • Overall, the study found that all three brands achieved higher levels of brand familiarity, brand interest and purchase consideration when their campaigns were optimized by machine learning instead of human campaign managers.

The bigger picture: The integration of automated ad technology (called programmatic advertising) has been proven to improve the outcomes of digital advertising when properly managed by humans, but it will require a new set of skills and jobs to implement.

If machine learning takes over routine tasks — like allocating ad impressions to parts of a website where they will perform better, or swapping an ad's creative elements with more compelling art — humans will only need to step in to solve complex problems and make big decisions.

  • That bodes well for experienced managers, but potentially poorly for people who perform easily automated tasks.
  • The addition of these jobs and resources will likely displace some advertising jobs that are no longer necessary. For example, fewer sales people are needed to perform small-level direct sales jobs that can be done digitally.
"Smart media companies no longer invest as heavily in digital media web site sales because the return is now lower .... Instead they hire programmatic to optimize their sites for machines who want to buy. This in theory frees sellers up to sell "experiences." So yes — web sites are barely mid-funnel marketing tools. They are “bottom funnel,” mostly. 
— Ryan McConville, President & COO, Kargo, a mobile advertising company

Yes, but: Almost every new ad tech firm, marketing agency and tech company is touting awesome machine learning products, but right now none of them performs wildly better than the human-built systems we have today.

Bottom line: Advertising and marketing jobs are increasingly becoming more automated, but it will take time and experimentation to best understand what the balance should be between automation and human engagement.

Go deeper: How media companies lost the advertising game

Go deeper

Hill votes will make global waves

President Biden addresses the UN General Assembly on Sept. 21, 2021 in New York City. Photo: Eduardo Munoz-Pool/Getty Images)

This epic week for President Biden on Capitol Hill is even bigger than his domestic agenda.

Why it matters: Biden has anchored his entire strategy for foreign affairs on the notion that "America is back." What that means in practice is that Biden needs to prove democracy works to rally America’s liberal allies against rising authoritarians.

52 mins ago - World

German election: Exit polls show close race to succeed Angela Merkel

SPD leader Olaf Scholz. Photo: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg via Getty Images

BERLIN — The first exit poll from Sunday's German elections showed the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) in a dead heat at 25%, leaving the race to succeed Angela Merkel too close to call.

The state of play: A second exit poll showed the SPD narrowly ahead. That's the one televisions displayed at SPD headquarters in Berlin, where the room erupted into cheers. Official results will roll in throughout the evening.

Abbott says he'll hire Border Patrol agents who whipped at migrants

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Sunday defended the actions of U.S. Border Patrol agents who charged at Haitian migrants on horseback, blaming the Biden administration for not preventing them from crossing the border.

Why it matters: Abbott's remark on "Fox News Sunday" comes amid increased backlash over the incident, with President Biden saying, "I promise... those people will pay,” and the Department of Homeland Security launching an investigation.