New technology and how it is transforming traditional media was the main focus at the recent Streaming Media East conference. There’s no doubt AI and machine learning are impacting media, and according to a panel of experts, it will be a boon to both consumers and the media business.

Nadine Krefetz, a consultant with Reality Software, noted that, “Machine learning and AI are more buzzy than ever.” The reasons why media should be focusing on these protocols include the need to harness huge amounts of data, stitch together all of the complex parts inherent in the data sources and automate the cost efficiencies and time.

According to Gabriella Mirabelli, EVP Consumer Insights and Brand Strategy, Valance Media, AI is the technique that creates human learning using logic. She noted that Machine Learning is a subset of AI that uses, “complex statistical techniques to improve tasks that the technology can do.” Another subset of AI is Deep Learning that “uses algorithms to help the machine train itself.” In sum, AI uses human intelligence while machine learning uses data to predict outcomes.

What AI Can Do

When applied to media, these systems enable smooth processing and understanding of the mountains of data now available to marketers. For Mirabelli, we are advancing into, “an Era of Insight from the Era of Data,” where there is greater complexity and too much data for humans alone to handle. She uses these systems to make buy decisions and to answer unique questions. For Field Garthwaite, Co-Founder and CEO,, these systems can be used to improve the customer experience and, for Thomas Ohanian, Global Sales Executive, IBM Watson, the underlying technology that these solutions depend upon enables speech to text, object recognition, voice and other interactive elements by “reducing human tasks and gleaning insights from content.”

What AI is Doing Now
Sports are a ripe area for AI. Ohanian explained that fewer people are going to events at the stadium, preferring to watch  on the glass. AI offers real time insights by using algorithms to assess “intent, reaction and gestures to build interesting and timely sports highlights.” It is an instantaneous way to “pick plays, players, matches and play types through automatic curation which is very sticky,” to reduce the bounce rate and help editors find relevant content quickly.

Nikki Conley, Cloud Solution Architect, Microsoft , offered another perspective. Mistakes can be corrected or monetized. A recent Game of Thrones episode erroneously had a Starbucks cup in the frame. “If we ran through an analysis and saw the cup, we could remove it … or ask Starbucks for advertising support,” instead of inadvertently giving them $2.3 billion in free advertising. AI enables the ability to “look for occurrences in content in post-production with extensive tagging.”

From amassing data to curating content to correcting mistakes to providing an overall better experience for viewers and more profitable opportunities for advertisers, the future is now for AI in media.


Lynn Leahey