Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

The ad industry is wasting millions on unused content – and GenAI will only turn up the heat

By Rebecca Dykema, SVP Partnerships & Creative Transformation at CreativeX

Are your ads working hard, or hardly working? And what does GenAI mean for this equation? Advertisers are dealing with an expensive blind spot in their content production cycle. They don’t have visibility into if or how their core assets are being versioned, repurposed or ultimately activated across markets and channels. To make matters worse, brands continue to produce new content despite the majority of existing content never seeing the light of day.

The myth of worn-out ads is contributing to wasted creativity and cash. CreativeX’s research reveals that 52% of ad content produced by the average F500 company never sees the light of day. For the average advertiser, this translates to a $25 million annual investment into unused, unloved content. At a time when marketing budgets are under intense scrutiny, this type of investment cannot afford to be wasted.

Continuing on this trajectory the advertising industry is expected to waste $100 billion in 2024 on unused assets. The first question to answer is: how did we get here?

The global vs. local dilemma

Tensions between global and local teams over who knows best for the markets are longstanding. While the tension between the two can be unique to every brand, they often occur as neither team trusts that the other knows best when it comes to campaign advertising.

Local markets tend to create their own assets because they don’t believe the core asset will perform well in their region. This leaves the global team frustrated at the lack of consistency and quality that comes from frequent – and untraceable – localisation.

The tension is only amplified as teams become larger and more complex. Gaining visibility into how core assets are being used and adapted becomes more critical as teams become bigger and produce more content, with teams investing time and money into producing new content, instead of drawing on core assets and adapting them to local markets.

Productive conversations between global and local teams are based on visibility into the entire content production ecosystem. Without this visibility, teams are just guessing how much content is being used and if – and how – it’s being repurposed at a local level.

GenAI is turning the content treadmill up to full speed

GenAI remains top of the boardroom’s agenda, and advertisers are under pressure to outline their own AI strategy. And for good reason – among other benefits, it allows advertisers to create content at a much faster rate, cutting production costs and time. But generative AI won’t be the silver bullet. It will only make matters worse.

Imagine our current situation: we’re sitting on a heap of unused, expensive ads. The lack of visibility across the content lifecycle means marketers can’t see how assets are repurposed and versioned across markets and brands. The volume of wasted content will only explode with gen AI churning and producing assets at a much faster pace.

Using GenAI to create more content at a faster rate will reinforce an inefficient content production cycle, responsible for increasingly ineffective content, as standard. While brands are under pressure to develop an AI strategy, investing in increasing content production is a risky bet without visibility as to whether the content is ever deployed.

How can brands streamline their content production cycle – and stretch budgets further?

AI might serve to exacerbate existing issues of overproduction and underutilisation of content, but it can also provide visibility into the content production system at scale. Using AI-enabled asset-matching technology, global teams can track core assets from design to deployment to examine in detail if and how core assets are localised, activated, and repurposed across markets.

Not only does this technology facilitate a data-driven conversation between global and local teams, but it will open up a wealth of possibilities. They’ll stretch their marketing budgets further as they streamline content production, budget efficiencies can be invested into media, research, or improving the creative. This newfound clarity will be crucial for marketing leadership keen to see their marketing budget drive maximum impact, and moreover, to truly demonstrate their value in the boardroom.