Seth Solomons, Wunderman's CEO for North America, sees huge growth coming for machine learning.
"If the agencies don't see it and embrace it then it's going to be a pretty disruptive force,"he says in the latest episode of AdExchanger Talks.
Wunderman knows something about disruptive forces, having navigated decades of media transformation beginning in 1958. The agency's historic focus on direct marketing has positioned it well for the 2017 marketing environment, where performance rules all.
Today it competes with a surprisingly wide range of players new and old, in areas such as data architecture (Acxiom, Epsilon), data advisory services (Accenture, Unbound) and creative services (AKQA, SapientRazorfish).
When it comes to AI and machine learning, Solomons says the low-hanging fruit is email, where Wunderman has replaced A/B testing of subject lines with a continuous optimization approach that has it "running hundreds of thousands of cells concurrently."
"If we can bring the right creative perspective together with the machine learning, we're seeing [up to] 10 times the return through continuous optimization," he said.
But the opportunity is not only about email or automating jobs that were previously handled less efficiently by humans.
"This approach relies on machine learning, but there's a huge service layer" around analytics, strategy and creativity, Solomons said. "You need everything you've got inside a modern digital agency. You're just using them differently."
Also in this episode: Solomons discusses client data hygiene, the rise of CPGs as data contenders, Wunderman's competitive set and advances in measuring walled gardens.
This episode is supported by Acxiom.