Humans and machines: An opportunity for a new hybrid relationship

As algorithms become increasingly advanced, is there still a need for human input? In the words of Garry Kasparov, the world's best chess player: "I'm a human being. When I see something that is well beyond my understanding, I'm afraid". We're entering a time when our everyday interactions are increasingly led by computers and often find ourselves in situations where we no longer understand the mechanics behind how they work. To an extent, we've accepted this new reality. And despite the vast progress in algorithms in recent years, we, as humans, still need to work out how best to deliver marketing messages to our audiences.

Take Facebook, a prime example of a platform that's mastered a hybrid approach. Its content is all posted by people and so remains interesting, whilst what posts you view first is all controlled by algorithms which make the decision around what's most important to show you first. But, if you're not a content-led platform, how should you create and define a hybrid approach that marries technology with that all-important human touch?

Strike a balance

While we employ a data-first approach at Greenlight which favours technology and algorithmic capabilities, we still regularly debate over creative, content, and frequency caps - all to ensure our campaigns deliver a personable, relatable 'human' experience at the end of each impression. Furthermore, while creative is also growing in its ability to be more dynamic, personalised and relevant, a human eye is still needed to validate quality where automated technology is involved. The best programmatic work out there is born from synergies between creative and technical programmatic teams as it marries the best of automated technology and human oversight to ensure end-user relevancy and engagement. As machine learning keeps on growing, humans will still need to add in a layer of emotion and humour, and adapt to leaving the heavy-lifting to the machines.

A human touch will always be required

I've read numerous articles that list machine vs human pros and cons, arguing endless points against either side. In reality, this isn't how we work, and it won't be how we work in the future. At no stage of intelligence in any industry is a human not needed. We evolve and adapt our skills to technological advancements, but humans are not under threat; we're not eliminated, but technology helps give the freedom to focus on the other pertinent areas.

Keep assessing as technology evolves

The real question is how to define and maintain the balance of hybrid intelligence with technological growth. In programmatic, when is it the right time to step in and optimise, when should a creative refresh take place, at what point does brand strategy need a re-think, and how do we to continue to grow an audience without just relying on the basics we already know about them? We're still learning what this balance is, and will continue to learn as the landscape changes around us, but one way or another, it's key that we maintain that human element to all our campaigns, from planning to execution to checks, in order to deliver successful campaigns.

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