One minute with… Ben Royce, Creative Effectiveness Lead at Google

Elham Rizi-Shorvon March 2019

Ben Royce is Google’s Creative Effectiveness Lead. After working on Search for 12 years, Ben realised that machine learning could provide a powerful new way of understanding what makes a successful video ad. He and his team regularly analyse data from thousands of campaigns, unearthing some fascinating insights in the process.

How does a machine decide what a supermodel looks like? Ben Royce explains.

According to Ben Royce, brands looking to future-proof themselves need to take data seriously as part of their digital transformation. “Being consumer-centric is critical, which requires insight; and nowadays, that requires data,” he says. “As brands become more insightful with data, they become more helpful, and that’s what benefits them long-term. I don’t see enough companies doing this, but there should always be resources dedicated to maintaining your data advantage.”

Machine learning was a game-changer for Royce. “It blew me away. We could start to analyse hundreds of videos, all at the same time, which takes a lot of computing power,” he says. This capacity has led to key discoveries. “For example, we found that having wind moving the model’s hair works well for beauty ads on YouTube. Or, that clouds work really well in ads for chocolate. I don’t know why - but when smoke or clouds are used in a chocolate ad, people skip less.” For Royce, that’s fascinating: “We get information on the ‘what’ but not on the ‘why’, so we still need people and research and testing to figure that out.”

The applications of machine learning are endless, Royce believes. “It’s fundamentally changing the way computers process information, and finding new uses for this amazing technology really motivates me.”

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