More and more businesses are using AI-powered solutions to adapt and innovate, but the spotlight often falls on the technology rather than the people using it to make the magic happen.
U.K. agencies are emerging as thought leaders in both harnessing AI and redefining what strategies, skills, and structures are essential for its success.
Focusing on these core areas, we asked three agency executives to share their valuable perspectives, revealing not just how AI is changing the game but how U.K. agencies can continue to be key players.
AI has significantly shifted our focus areas across the business. To identify where strategic changes might be needed, we have increased our investment in analytics, data modelling, and testing. This helps us see the impact of AI-powered products used by our clients much faster and tells us what we can do to improve it.
A big part of this is rethinking objectives. AI-powered campaigns like Performance Max require marketers to move away from traditional metrics, such as click-through-rate (CTR) and cost per click (CPC), and instead focus on outcomes, like revenue growth and share price. This only reinforces the idea that brand and performance should be evaluated as an intertwined and singular goal. Making that pivot is key to a future-ready strategy.
AI-powered campaigns have also enabled us to move away from focusing on specific metric objectives. Many of the levers that would traditionally be managed by our platform experts are now automated, so we can spend more time on what we need to fuel the engine: the types of images, text, and videos that will encourage the AI to work to our desired output.
In turn, this shift has influenced how we work with our clients. For instance, in the luxury sector there’s a trade-off between reduced controls and adhering to strict brand guidelines that we need to be mindful of. As we have a lot of clients in this space, we needed to navigate questions about AI’s impact on exclusivity (for luxury clients, not all revenue is good revenue) and closely monitor AI-generated outputs.
And the type of services we offer to our clients have changed and improved, too. We’re now prioritising high growth areas like apps and the mobile web, where we expect AI to make a significant impact in the next few years.
A recurring theme from clients is how to meaningfully execute their strategies without relying too heavily on AI. For us, it’s about working smarter. AI’s data modelling capabilities have helped us close the loop between our strategy and analytics functions, allowing us to put our resources where it matters most. The same will be true for any business ready to adapt and embrace AI’s potential.
Tip for marketers: Get everyone pulling in the same direction
The key to maximising AI is learning how to work with it and align it to your operational structure. Rethink the metrics you’re striving for and create a culture of collaboration for your strategy and analytics functions to ensure everyone is working towards one shared goal.
At Kinesso, the role of AI was established when we appointed a global chief AI officer in 2021. We have since built a multi-disciplinary team of nearly 40 people, from client managers to content and data experts, who are all actively exploring and sharing how AI can support our day-to-day work. This has really helped us speed up the deployment and democratisation of AI across the business.
The hype around AI has emphasised the need to continually keep evolving and is something we’re organically weaving into the fabric of how we operate.
So far, it has enabled us to automate repetitive data processing tasks, improve workflows, and reduce human error. And whilst machine learning helps identify data patterns and trends, it has also bettered our efficiency and effectiveness.
For example, our content team now uses in-house AI tools to help with ideation, writing, and accessibility best practices. Rooted in data, these automated solutions have also proved invaluable for our teams and clients to measure content validity, enabling us to better understand how we can best reach different target audiences.
Integrating AI into our team structures has enabled us to do more. Our people now have the time to apply their expertise elsewhere — working on more creative and strategic approaches to answer our clients’ needs and find ways to continue to grow their business.
It’s important to us that AI is a complementary asset that works in harmony with our teams. Making it accessible to everyone is the best way to achieve that.
Tip for marketers: Build an environment that empowers employees
Build an infrastructure that helps speed up the deployment and democratisation of AI by constantly reviewing team structures and ways of working. This will empower employees with continuous learning and upskilling while harnessing AI as part of the day-to-day core responsibilities.
AI has sparked a significant shift in skills in the industry and a deep understanding of how it operates within search platforms has never been more crucial. While marketers rely on dynamically optimised assets to do the heavy lifting in Search ads and Performance Max campaigns, the agency still plays a vital role in its creative direction, relevancy, and performance.
While we see the benefits of generative AI and rely heavily on dynamically optimised assets across Search ads, we’re continuously exploring responsible ways of using it with our clients. It’s important to us that it’s used in parallel with our human talent, insight, and a deep understanding of our clients’ businesses and needs.
Skills such as data analysis, critical thinking, innovation, and experimentation have also gained more prominence. The better we guide AI with our inputs and prompts, the more it’ll empower its processes, resulting in stronger outcomes and results for us and our clients. Structured experimentation is the only way to learn how you can influence AI. At Wavemaker, we like to refer to this as “positive provocation”.
Going forward, the emphasis on data, analytics, and privacy will only increase, so upskilling your teams in these areas will remain essential. As AI-driven ad platforms rely on privacy-safe measurement and complex algorithms, specialists must focus on analytics and data modelling to comprehend future performance.
Tip for marketers: Spark curiosity amongst your teams
Encourage your teams to ask questions when using AI and experiment with different inputs and prompts. Fostering a collective ability to think critically will help influence AI to create stronger outcomes, enhance processes, and gain a competitive edge for your business.
Building for the future
AI is changing the marketing landscape. To deliver on its promise, U.K. agencies must be ready to adapt and embrace AI’s capabilities more than ever before. Now is the time to ensure your strategy, structure, and skills are suited to take full advantage of the latest technological opportunities so that you can act quickly, stay ahead, and multiply your competitive advantage.