CHE Proximity launches artificial intelligence division

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 25 May 2017
CHE Proximity launches CHEPAI

CHE Proximity is launching an artificial intelligence division within its Sydney and Melbourne agencies.

The division, CHEPAI, aims to leverage open-source machine learning algorithms and computing power announced by Google at its IO event last week, in a bid to solve problems humans can’t.

It will fuse together the agency’s strengths in data, CX, technology and development and media.

“At the moment, data is only based on past behaviour and then our staff have to manually analyse the data to identify patterns. Machine learning could improve our data predictability dynamically,” CHE Proximity MD Chris Howatson says.

“The art of data science up until now has been taking real world problems and understanding how to reduce these into simplistic data sets suitable for analytical modelling. At best, modelling 10 factors using linear techniques. The outcome, therefore, is a 2D indication of actual human behaviour.

“AI is 'machine learning by example' – just like how humans learn. It offers predictions that are extraordinarily close to real human behaviour. Like moving from stick figure illustrations to technicolour multi-dimensional reality.”

Getting on board with AI now enables CHE Proximity to stay ahead of the industry as the technology shifts more into the mainstream, Howatson believes.

“The industrial revolution impacted 80% of the workforce. Machines came and wiped out jobs but society restructured to facilitate the skills required. We are about to do that again with AI,” he says.

“We are on the cusp of that tipping point and that’s why we are getting on board before it hits the mainstream. We are eager to be there before everyone else so we can improve the offering.”

CHEAI will be led by the director of data sciences James Greaney, Brightsmiths director Mark Gretton and media director of experience Elizabeth Geor.

“Because the division is complementary to our focus on tech and data, we don’t need to duplicate staff for the team. Greaney, Gretton and Geor will champion the transformation and its adopting throughout the business,” Howatson says.

Gretton, who leads CHE Proximity’s marketing technology consultancy arm, says CHEAI will help clients crack AI by taking a simple approach, as well as introducing automation tools to simplify their everyday business.

“Businesses beyond the core technology sector are finding it hard to keep up with consumer behaviour. The purpose of CHEPAI is to help clients break through the perceived complexity of AI, by taking a step-by-step approach starting, with immediate opportunities, in order to create an unfair share of commercial returns," Gretton says.

“A simple example of how AI can transform the marketing process is competition monitoring. For $1.50 per 1,000 uploads, a piece of AI code can flag a graphic image (such as a 'dick pic') and prevent it from being uploaded to a competition website – saving hours of manual labour.”

This isn’t CHE Proximity’s first foray into AI, with the agency already applying some tools on its clients Telstra and Mazda.

CHE has also been building an AI machine with IBM Watson algorithms for the last year that scans content and matches the context of the piece with an ad that displays the same emotion.

For example, for a brand like Cadbury that wants to be associated with 'joy', the tool would only place its ad on uplifting stories.

Built by CHE, it ran its first test on Mamamia last year. The agency plans to roll it out more broadly later this year.

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