VMLY&R's New AI Researcher Shares Top Tips For Advertisers

VMLY&R's New AI Researcher Shares Top Tips For Advertisers
While the creative industry grapples with the implications of AI on business as usual, VMLY&R South Africa has appointed its first ever AI Researcher.

Sphiwe Dube was on a learnership in UX Research at VMLY&R when artificial intelligence catapulted from the realms of “probably in the near future” to everyday use. He already had experience in web design but was looking to broaden his skillset. When AI started dominating headlines, Dube ran towards the chaos, immersing himself in the new tech and its possibilities. His enthusiasm paid off. When his learnership came to an end, Dube was kept on in the position of VMLY&R’s first AI Researcher.

“Transitioning to UX, I delved into user psychology, wireframing, and prototyping, delivering intuitive experiences. Now, I explore the complexities of AI, shaping the future of intelligent systems,” he says. “With a diverse skill set and boundless curiosity, I thrive at the intersection of technology and human experience.”

Tech As a Creative Enabler

The overriding tone of the creative industry’s response to AI’s sudden explosion has been suspicious. But while his industry colleagues stood well back and cautiously poked the new tech with a stick, Dube was eager to explore its capabilities.

“I have noticed that people have a tendency to demonstrate uncertainty or some degree of fear when there is a major tech innovation. I guess with recent AI innovations people are going through that new phase of uncertainty. What's very interesting is the fact that we've been using AI way longer than we know…facial recognition in our phones, GPS when navigating, personalised social media feeds, voice assistants like Siri, etc. The part that has changed now is that everyone has access to this powerful technology and can actually see how powerful it is,” he says. “So, I am not threatened by it at all. I understand the downside that will potentially come with AI, but the upside is so much bigger.”

AI Tools for Advertisers

In his capacity as AI researcher, Dube’s task is to stay up to date with the latest developments and find ways to use the tech to work smarter and produce better work more efficiently for the agency’s clients.

“There is so much in the AI space right now and it's quite easy to get lost in the experimentation,” he says. “What's crucial to understand is the value the AI tools bring to your workspace and how much of a positive impact they will bring.”

He says ChatGPT remains the best gateway tool for the AI-curious. “It has so much potential and applications range from content creation and optimisation to market research, analytics and customer services.”

However, the really exciting space for advertisers, he believes, is image generation. “The applications of these tools are both wild and wide,” says Dube. “They range from exploring different visual concepts to creating stunning mood boards in seconds and eye-catching visuals for campaigns. The opportunities are endless.”

As for which image-generating tools to choose, Dube says they all have their perks, but right now he recommends:

Midjourney for artistic, abstract, or realistic images

Stable Diffusion for photorealistic images, such as faces, animals, landscapes and objects

Adobe Firefly for generating and editing images and text effects using text prompts

DALL-E for producing art, cartoons, and illustrations.

“The general and obvious benefit of AI is making our lives easier, and I am fan of doing things smarter and easier,” says Dube.

Originally published on Media Update.

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