Advertising has always been a bit of a numbers game from a targeting and creative point of view.

Like all good marketing, it builds on what it learns. The famous quote is that half of all ad spend is wasted, but no one knows which half still holds true for many activities.

However, with technology, artificial intelligence and advances in programmatic advertising we may soon be at the point where nothing is wasted. Or will we? I’m not so sure.

Programmatic and AI enable us to throw enough ads out there and you’ll find someone, somewhere, at some point who wants what you’ve got because they are actually looking for it.

Creative concept, content or copywriting makes no difference to the conversion because they were looking for a widget at the quality, price and availability that you’ve just presented them with.

Bingo. You just need thousands of ad variations to meet the potential variations of product, price and volume, all generated by AI/machine learning and the job is done.

But – and you knew there’d be a but – what of the wastage of all those who have been delivered your irrelevant, if functional, advert?

Well, you could argue that you get the same wastage on TV, press, radio ads or any creative content. I’d agree to that. But only wastage on terms of numbers. Not in terms of quality.

Good creative engages and entertains, it converts people to your cause. Good creative targets those actually looking for your product and prospects for new customers at the very same time.

So even if they are not buying now at least your making good friends with them and preparing them for the future purchase relationship. That is not wastage.

The programmatic, automated ad just doesn’t do that: It is 100 per cent wastage. There’s no upside, no lingering resonance, no brand memory or smile in the mind left to work its magic on the audience. And that’s a real waste.

So, what’s the answer? We’ll its not to do away with programmatic or automated activity. That would be throwing out the proverbial baby with the bath water.

The answer is to make sure as much care is taken with building brilliantly creative, relevant and exciting content for programmatic as you would for content, TV, press or radio.

Programmatic, automation and AI may well be a better way of buying and delivering your media but it will never be a replacement for damn good advertising.