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AI takes centre stage at Cannes Lions

Deep diving into the AI revolution at Cannes Lions: From NFTs to generative AI, unraveling the possibilities and challenges.


Last year, Cannes Lions stages were ablaze as futurists predicted a seismic revolution driven by NFTs, the Metaverse and Web3—a future where brands would connect with consumers like never before. Yet, fast forward to the 70th Festival of Creativity, and those same stages are now witnessing a breathtaking shift in focus: AI.

What makes this year’s headlining theme so riveting is the tangible impact it has already had on the way we work and communicate. This is not about the future; this is very distinctly about the now.

Two standout presentations on the subject included a fireside chat with Jensen Huang, Founder and CEO of Nvidia, the sixth largest company in the world that focuses on computing and is a pioneer in the AI space, as well as a talk delivered by Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer, one of the largest publishers in the world.

Together, these two influential leaders tackled the three most top-of-mind questions on everyone’s minds. With inspired insights and actionable points, they set out to quell the rising fears that cast a shadow of uncertainty over the future of our industry.

  1. Will creativity die with AI?

Will AI be the destroyer of creativity, casting an ominous shadow over the artistic process we hold dear? Or does it possess the transformative power to amplify our creative endeavours across all formats, liberating us from technical roadblocks and propelling our concepts to astonishing new heights?

The sense is that AI will remove the friction that is often caused by technical speed bumps and help concepts come to life much faster and at a greater speed. It has the power to democratize creative, not creativity.

In the context of journalism, the efficiencies will be seen in layout and quality control while progressive publishers will invest their savings in higher-quality unique content and significantly boost their journalism teams to cover more stories in more places (think local).

  1. Deep Fakes: Is society doomed to become misinformed?

This technological evolution isn’t without its perils. Enter the realm of deep fakes and authenticity, where AI’s prowess blurs the lines of reality and raises a crucial concern: Is our society doomed to drown in a sea of misinformation?

Throughout history, we’ve witnessed the rise and fall of walled gardens in response to technological advancements. However, in the case of AI, we are seeing an unprecedented level of collaboration and alignment between the most powerful industries in the world to help develop policies to protect authenticity. It’s truly in every stakeholder’s interest to create guardrails for the responsible use of AI.

From the perspective of news publishers, this represents a major opportunity for journalists who have established deep trust with society to help lead the way in creating technical mechanisms like watermarking and other solutions to help identify the origin and authenticity of content in a secure and recognizable way.

  1. Will AI be the killer app? Will it be the only app?

AI, like any other technology, has the innate power of interoperability. Content creators will find ways to seamlessly integrate AI solutions into what they offer. Publishers, for example, could offer generative AI access directly from their content pages, which creates tremendous opportunities to enhance user experiences and maximize engagement.

Agencies can integrate generative AI into their development software, which creates immense customization and differentiation opportunities, particularly when these systems are proprietary.

While AI has an unsettling effect on this creative content-producing industry, there are some very positive prospects that lie ahead. These two presentations made it clear that ownership was the only way forward for Generative AI. Audiences at Cannes and around the world are well advised to invest efforts in owning the outputs and participating energetically in the guardrails AI needs to avoid paralysis caused by worry.

Sonia Carreno is the president of The Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada, the only trade association dedicated to the responsible growth of the digital advertising industry in Canada. With a career spanning almost 25 years, Sonia is a true digital veteran who has deep industry experience covering virtually every angle of the digital marketing sector.

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