AI Marketing in Focus: IBM Harnesses Generative AI Tool Adobe Firefly 

AI Marketing in Focus

Business and marketing leaders are eager to capitalize on the promise of generative AI. 

In fact, more than six out of 10 business leaders said they incorporate genAI into their operations in some way by this year, according to an IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) study. By 2025, three out of four chief marketing officers say their company will be using generative AI for content creation, committing to weave AI marketing strategies into their practice, the study stated. 

A year after a major pilot, IBM’s AI initiatives are in the spotlight. IBM recently released its case study for using Adobe’s Firefly genAI platform in its marketing and advertising, emphasizing improved engagement, efficiency, and personalization at scale.  

IBM’s Firefly-Driven Marketing Campaign 

Adobe Firefly drove IBM’s “Let’s Create” campaign in 2023, using text prompts to produce 200 unique advertising assets as well as more than 1,000 variations – a marketing feat that took moments instead of months in the making.  

“Very high-performing,” Billy Seabrook, global chief design officer at IBM Consulting, dubbed the marketing campaign, highlighting that the positive characteristics of genAI in the campaign would take a designer a lot more time to perform manually.  

Embedded into other Adobe tools such as Photoshop and Illustrator, Firefly rapidly accelerated productivity by working speedily on “early creative processes” such as sketching, prototyping, storyboarding, and even brainstorming among IBM designers and creatives, Seabrook shared.  

In the IBM team’s internal workflow, the genAI tool “unleashed the volume of creative ideas” they had and accelerated tedious tasks like retouching and resizing. This, for example, allowed a copywriter to participate more in the visual creative process.  

Compared with other generative AI applications like ChatGPT and Midjourney, Firefly uses only Adobe’s stock image library and appropriate open-source material. While this is deemed a limitation, it is also considered more legally viable when it comes to the matter of copyright.  

Outcomes From IBM’s AI Marketing Approach 

The marketing campaign has been touted as IBM’s AI marketing success as it performed well above the tech giant’s benchmark, driving 26 times greater engagement. It also reached high-value audiences, where 20 percent of campaign respondents identified as C-suite executives.  

IBM had upwards of 20,000 people enabled on Adobe Creative Cloud, essentially experimenting with Firefly since its inception in March 2023 while in beta. When Firefly became generally available, IBM evaluated the genAI tool and ultimately decided to deploy it across all practitioners in the company in its current state, Seabrook told FOX Business.  

After its launch last year, Adobe Firefly has since moved to 2.0 with new functionality including style matching. IBM design teams have also expanded their use of the tool, such as integrating it into core tools like Photoshop and Illustrator.  

IBM also used Adobe Firefly for a social media campaign last year, a “concept around textures” that yielded “great” variety, “huge” productivity improvements, and “a great example of personalization at scale,” Seabrook said. 

Seabrook called IBM’s use of Adobe Firefly and its wider deployment “the next evolution” of its partnership with Adobe, calling IBM a big customer not only in their software but also in marketing cloud and marketing transformation. 

Generative AI Marketing Strategies Today 

Firefly has been commercially available since September 2023, integrated across Adobe platforms. The tool comprises a Content Credentials feature, intended for transparency and ensuring the generated content is ethically and legally sound.  

Zooming out, media firms have taken the lead in adopting generative AI applications for marketing, Some 63 percent are already allocating budgets to such initiatives, according to Capgemini data from October last year.  

Image generation, a genAI application, is used globally by 16 percent of marketing professionals, according to Mediaocean figures. This function, however, still lags behind functions such as data analysis (39 percent) and market research (35 percent).  

In the IBM IBV study, CMOs and marketing leaders are bent on leveraging generative AI for marketing. Sixty-four percent of CMOs said they expect to harness genAI for content personalization in the coming year or two, while more than 42 percent said they are prioritizing scaling hyper-personalization.  

As IBM VP Ari Sheinkin said in a statement, Firefly is a tool to produce more personalized marketing and free up humans for more creative tasks. 

“Generative AI provides us a path to effectively scale these efforts,” Sheinkin said.  

Related Readings: 

5 Use Cases of AI in Marketing in 2024 

AI-Powered Advertising 101: Benefits, Use Cases, and Prospects 

Marketers Are Gearing Up for an AI Revolution  

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