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MxPiQ Day One: AI, Sustainability & Representation in Procurement


Kirath Pahdi


15 Apr 2024


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MSQ attended Marketing Procurement iQ’s first two-day industry conference in London, with delegates, industry experts, thought leaders and industry partners from across the globe coming together to network, exchange knowledge and discover deep-dive insights into the world of procurement. Featuring a panel discussion from MSQ Source’s Managing Director, Darren Khan, here are some of our key takeaways from day one… 

Rejecting the Sea of Sameness

One of the common misconceptions of using AI within your production strategy is that AI is democratising creativity in the modern day and age, which isn’t necessarily true. The real problems that arise involve what one panellist called the “sea of sameness”, with often repetitive content creating a sense of mediocrity, and the “tsunami of spam”; an over-production of automated content. The key to obliterating these issues is taking a step back and following the logic that AI is derivative, still based on existing thinking and simply a reproduction of data. Procurement teams need to work with agencies to understand the value-add from AI, to produce meaningful content with its assistance that is effective, agnostic, and responsible, and re-calibrate their contracts to include AI.

­­Stay human

The basis of what’s produced by ChatGPT fundamentally piggybacks off the creative thought from the copywriter that’s inputting the data, highlighting that without that crucial human element, AI can’t really bring us anything of major use (unless you’re willing to go down the path of sameness and spam). ChatGPT predicts patterns, using the power of maths and numbers to see how words statistically relate to one another by guessing what comes next and thus mimic the ebb and flow of human language. This creates that homogenised content and inconsistences that we worry about in the first place, with content déjà vu that mimics the personality of the output, which only a human can really produce, and AI can’t replace. 

Find the balance

Finding that all-important balance is key when using AI in your production strategy. AI becomes a collaborator, rather than a crutch to lean on, honing in on the fact that tools are only as powerful as those wielding them. The technology must support the talent, and not the other way around. Procurement teams need to clearly understand and define AI’s role from the start of their planning process, then using its outputs to explore new creative avenues. 

Transparency is key

In 2023 the digital ecosystem creates 3-4% of all greenhouse gas emissions produced, and advertising influences the demand that drives most of the other 97-98% global emissions, meaning that all of us advertisers, brands and marketers should be held accountable. To tackle this, there are many things you can do to de-carbonise your supply chains and work towards achieving sustainability goals, with 34% of production companies having set net zero goals in place (including MSQ Source). Carbon measurement and transparency is crucial here, with many companies adopting an annual sustainability report to track progress and remain sustainably aware, and organisations like We Are AdGreen and Ad Net Zero dedicated to doing as such. 

Plan to succeed

Carbon measurement helps identify the hot spots of where carbon is being created in mass, so procurement teams can make more sustainable decisions with the numbers to back them. This means the appropriate changes can be made when planning your production strategy, whether that’s implementing a travel cap or investing in virtual production studios. The wider benefits of adopting sustainable production methods can also positively impact your brand’s revenue and respectability, ensuring you are desirable to partners and avoiding the knock-on effect of inaction through martech comms. Planning your procurement and marketing teams with the intent to map out what you want to do, and how this translates to production, always impacts cost positively. Having the strategy to enable to mitigate and manage costs, using re-distribution to utilise existing content effectively, ultimately de-mystifies the assumption that sustainable production increases costs. In fact, driving demand for more sustainable technology and investing time to understand this strategy can lead to an offsetting of those costs. 

Keep it local, globally

Adopting more sustainable practices in advertising production doesn’t have to mean a rise in costs or a decline in creativity. So how are brands embracing new and innovative sustainable production and technology models, whilst still being able to target more customers, across an ever-growing number of platforms, formats and channels, for the same investment? Investing in upskilling your people, planning and collaboration can massively pay-off for your procurement team. MSQ Source chooses to cost-save by investing in, and relying on, local communities for their projects, with the social perspective always interlinked with sustainability and on their agenda at the same level as monetary benefits. 

Invest in your people

The key to a successful business is keeping everyone connected by paying attention to culture and tapping into the areas that aren’t being as widely recognised within the space. The “Women of Influence” panellists suggested keeping the mindset of a start-up business to focus in on that, with the necessity for constant change and evolution always in the background. This means a focus on DEI initiatives, as the panel focussed on the inclusivity of women in business and representation, with Claire Randall confirming “you can have it all”, providing you have the right support around you in both a personal and workspace. To encourage more women in leadership within the marketing procurement and creative production sectors, representation is key whether that’s by supporting new talent through mentorships and highlighting existing talent through focussed panel events with female leaders, like the one we had today. 

Investing in and upscaling your people, and not just your tech, is one of the most important things you can do to invest in your business. Reflecting on her time in the sector, Tina Fegent noted that there was a slow shift for agencies to engage with a positive mindset to procurement, reiterating the importance of a central production strategy so communication can be clearer and ultimately more effective. Tina’s final words of advice: “Why not?” resonated throughout the room, whether that be in regard to trial-and-error approaches, trying your hand at a new job role, or investing in new procurement strategies. 

MSQ Source provides sustainable production and technology solutions for local and global needs. For more information, contact Darren Khan: Darren.khan@msqpartners.com.

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