Man vs Machine

Part 1/2: Are Human Designers Necessary Anymore?

Design is going through a renaissance. Every publication you read these days seems to have an article about the importance of design. However, design has changed. What used to only be possible with a human touch can now be aided and supplemented by technology. So what does that mean for the relationship between people, technology and design?


There’s no question that technology is affecting every corner of the world today. From our mobile phones to our cars to our pet accessories, it’s truly bringing new things to every aspect of our daily lives. It’s connecting us in ways we never thought possible, and it’s making many previously labor-intensive and manual tasks easier, more seamless, and in some cases automatic.


As we look at the industries that are feeling the effects of technology, advertising in particular has been seeing enormous shifts in what is considered to be a ‘traditional’ model. The way that advertising is bought and sold has dramatically changed – and so has the way the ads themselves are created.


The Automation of Advertising
Programmatic advertising is one of the most revolutionary and most exciting forms of technology to affect the industry. Day by day, many companies and agencies are turning to programmatic advertising to better target and deliver their ads.


In programmatic advertising, things like media targeting can be done with much great precision and efficiency. Brands can target groups based on very specific demographics or even actions that certain audiences have taken across the web. Then, brands can deliver those ads in different, tailored ways, without having to manually change out creative.


The result? Stronger, more personalized, and more efficient creative executions. And better media solutions for getting each piece of creative in front of the right people.


Automation’s Impact on People
Obviously this new advertising economy will have a profound impact on the people who work in and around it. Over the last few years, agencies have seen budgets shrink as clients turn to automated solutions to help with marketing. Many agencies are starting to staff up with freelance workers rather than full-time employees because of the uncertainty surrounding agency’s futures.


And as these big questions are being asked, and huge changes are happening across the industry, some people are beginning to ask: if all this can happen through technology, why are people even a part of advertising anymore?


When it comes to advertising, designers – people – have always been a critical part of the equation. It’s worked well, because people can do things like ask questions. They can have empathy for the person on the receiving end of an ad. And they can see final creative and compare it to things they’ve seen in the past.


All of these traits are a supremely important part of the creative process. And as you’ve probably already figured out, they’re not things that machines can do (not yet, anyway).


So if technology is replacing many of the traditional jobs of designers in advertising, but design needs people in order to be done well, what does that mean for the future of humans as designers?


Balancing Man (or Woman) and Machine
The key to succeeding in this new economy is to strike the right balance between human involvement and machine learning. Advertisers and designers alike need to determine the right roles for technology and for people in the work that they do.


Bringing machine learning together with a human touch is something that many companies are just starting to discover. And what they’re discovering is that this approach has a ton of power. ReFUEL4 has been a pioneering company when it comes to leveraging the power of technology alongside the empathy and flexibility of real people.

The designers we work with are inquisitive people. They are creative, they are tenacious, and they love the thrill of a good challenge. This is what makes our platform – and our output – different and so compelling for our clients. The way that we can pair these passionate creatives with the automation of advertising that makes campaigns work hard is undeniably good for business. Like we said, it’s all about balance.


In Part 2, I will discuss designers can find this balance and stay relevant.


Earl Allan

Living is an experience of adventures. Always open to trying different activities except maybe where my heart is going to jump out of my mouth!

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