Dave Penski, CEO of Publicis Media, talks AI and future of advertising at Tribeca X 

Dave Penski, CEO of Publicis Media, talks AI and future of advertising at Tribeca X 

The Tribeca Festival kicked off its Tribeca X program, its two-day event for the creative marketing and advertising industries. “Since its inception, Tribeca has championed the intersection of Hollywood and brands, and over the past eight years, Tribeca X has become the leading destination for the world’s best brand storytelling,” Tribeca CEO and co-founder Jane Rosenthal said in a statement.

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Tribeca X

The opening session, “Future of Advertising: How AI & Commerce Will Shape Consumer Experiences of Tomorrow,” featured Dave Penski, CEO of Publicis Media. He discussed the growing role of AI in the advertising and media industries, highlighting both its potential and its challenges.

Jeanine Poggi, Ad Age, Dave Penski, Publicis Media CEO

Publicis Media all-in on AI

Publicis Groupe recently announced a bold new vision and approach that puts AI at the core of its business. At Tribeca X, Dave Penski emphasized Publicis Media’s commitment to AI, highlighting their acquisition of Epsilon for data acquisition and their core AI system that leverages Epsilon data, media strategy plans, and creative insights. “We’ve been investing for a very long time in AI in terms of the companies we purchased, like Epsilon. (..) All the work that we’ve done as an advertising holding company over the last 30 years is also powering our core AI, which then will run intelligent systems on Hadoop”, explained Penski.

Data is key for AI-powered creativity

Penski stressed the importance of data in fueling creativity. According to him, AI helps analyze vast amounts of data to uncover customer insights that can inspire stronger creative campaigns:  “I think that one of the things that is really important when you look at it -at a very basic level, for a client, for an advertiser, for anybody, whether it’s an advertiser or not -: what is the data source? What are you actually building on top of? In order to try and do it in a very simplistic way: how are we driving insights?.”

Challenges of AI in creative fields

While AI can accelerate content creation and personalize messaging, challenges remain, explained Penski. For the CEO of Publicis Media, comedy is an example where human touch is crucial. “Comedy, for one, is very hard”, said Penski. “If you’re looking at it from an AI perspective, you can tell that it’s AI. So, I think that for us right now, the future of creativity is still very much rooted in the creators themselves”. Additionally, Penski highlighted that legal and ethical considerations around content creation and user privacy require careful navigation.

Focus on long-term value over short-term gains

Penski emphasized the importance of brand value in a world increasingly driven by data and conversions. He cautioned against over-reliance on AI for short-term gains, which could erode brand value in the long run. “How do you drive a brand over time? It’s the balance of conversions overnight and brand over time that are going to be really important for clients to make that measurement. If you just do one, it’s wrong. There are some luxury brands that get away with just the second one. But I think it’s also, as you’re doing your conversions overnight, what are you doing in that conversion to drive brand and brand experience? If you are not, you are going to keep falling into the trap”.

The future of search

Penski predicts a major disruption in search advertising. AI-powered search will go beyond keywords and understand user intent to recommend specific products: “Search is another place where we’re seeing massive disruption. (…) Right now, if you search for a pair of shoes, it actually brings up a publisher website, a website that shows it. An AI solution is going to bring up the actual pair of shoes I want. Today, we’re able to use keywords from an SEO standpoint to build content. But when you get to an AI world where they actually know what kind of shoes I want, what size my shoes are, what are the brands I’m most likely to buy, and I’m recommending a pair of shoes that I will likely buy, it is a very different view of how search works than it is today”, explained Penski.

The role of influencers in the AI age

Penski sees influencers continuing to play a crucial role in the AI era. Human influence remains vital for driving brand affinity, especially when consumers have a brand preference beyond just the product itself.

Tribeca X

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