IBM’s New Tool Lets Marketers Tailor Ads to Coronavirus Conditions in a Given Area

The feature relies on artificial intelligence and data aggregated from public health agencies

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IBM's new tool collects data from public health agencies. IBM

A new tool from IBM Watson Advertising uses public health data and artificial intelligence to track where Covid-19 is on the rise or decline so that marketers can better customize their advertising to the pandemic situation in a particular area.

The feature, called Covid-19 Triggers, is one of many initiatives the tech giant’s advertising tech arm has rolled out in recent weeks designed to help brands better navigate the pandemic, including a partnership with the Ad Council on a call for social good creative.

The company is hoping the new analytics will make it easier for marketers to be sensitive to the moment in a given area at a time when collective moods seem to vary from moment to moment and region to to region, according to IBM Watson Advertising CMO Randi Stipes.

“Brands—IBM included—are trying to determine, ‘Is it even appropriate to be running advertising right now?'” Stipes said. “[Covid-19 Triggers] gives brands some level of assurance that they should even be running in the first place. And then once they’re actually there’s a level of comfort, ‘What’s the right message that’s actually going to be appropriate in both tone and visuals?'”

The tool is available across most programmatic and social channels as well as digital or over-the-top video and some out of home. It builds on IBM’s existing weather data-based ad targeting options.

Stipes said the tool should also help brands keep advertising efficient at a time when money is often tight. “We recognize that for so many brands, their budgets are being cut,” Stipes said. “So they need to also ensure that as they are regaining their voice and launching campaigns, that they’re investing rightly.”

IBM Watson is also hoping that the feature will help grow its Advertising Accelerator suite, which launched earlier this year. To that end, the company is also offering free access to five brands that demonstrate a commitment to socially responsible advertising as part of a partnership called Call for Creative with the Ad Council, which adopted the Advertising Accelerator platform earlier this year in its ongoing push into AI.

“We’ve started to investigate and pilot the benefits of AI technology in our campaign planning and implementation,” Ad Council president and CEO Lisa Sherman said. “We’re using it to segment and analyze social listening data to gain insights into how target audiences are experiencing a social issue and to inform campaign tone and messaging. We’re also using it with our ad platforms to optimize creative in-flight based on performance.”


@patrickkulp patrick.kulp@adweek.com Patrick Kulp is an emerging tech reporter at Adweek.
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