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Google and WPP Announce Partnership to Reinvent Advertising with AI

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Google and the world's biggest advertising group have announced a landmark AI partnership.

Google and WPP say that they will now collaborate to help the ad agency giant use Google's AI to produce ads. According to WPP:

“As part of the collaboration, Google Cloud's advanced gen AI tools will be used with WPP's proprietary marketing and advertising data. This will enable WPP’s clients to create brand- and product-specific content using gen AI, to gain deeper insights into their target audiences, to accurately predict and explain content effectiveness, and to optimise campaigns with ongoing adaptive processes.”

As part of it, Google's Gemini models will get used with WPP's existing AI, called WPP Open. Which means WPP clients Coca-Cola, L’Oréal, and Nestlé could soon be making ads using Google's AI.

The companies say the first phase of the partnership focuses on four use cases:

  1. Enhanced creativity. WPP will use Gemini 1.5 Pro for basic creative tasks like writing headlines.
  2. Content optimization. Gemini will upgrade an existing WPP system that predicts content performance.
  3. AI narration. WPP will use Gemini to automatically create video narration scripts. They will then generate synthetic voices for videos using these scripts. Those voices will come from another AI company, ElevenLabs.
  4. Product representation. WPP will use Google's generative AI to create product images.

This isn't the first time a big agency has gone all-in on AI. (We reported previously on Publicis' massive investments into AI.) But it marks just how quickly the agency world is changing thanks to AI.

What should agency leaders be paying attention to here? What steps should they be taking to stay relevant in the age of AI?

I got the answers from Marketing AI Institute founder / CEO Paul Roetzer on Episode 92 of The Artificial Intelligence Show.

The race to reinvent ad agencies is on

"It’s a race to reinvent ad agencies," says Roetzer.

WPP's partnership with Google is part of a whopping annual investment of $318M in AI. (Publicis, who we reported on previously, is spending $326M in the next 3 years on AI.

And, it sounds like that level of investment is necessary.

"They’re in a really challenging environment where AI capabilities are accelerating really fast," says Roetzer.

But every agency is dealing with massive uncertainty

The speed of AI innovation is introducing massive uncertainty into the agency model.

AI models are quickly becoming truly multimodal. They now generate and understand text, images, video, music, code, and ideas. GPT-5, and GPT-5 class models, are coming. And these tools enable creative output at scale.

"Agencies aren't just competing with each other anymore," says Roetzer. "They're now competing with $20 a month technology that does things that used to require 30 person teams in all these different disciplines in creative, strategy, design, video production, audio production, and more."

That raises uncomfortable questions about agencies.

"What won’t I be able to do with one of these models that I would usually pay a big agency for?," asks Roetzer. Do we need as many humans doing creative when AI is great at creative? Does an agency need as many people overall given AI's capabilities?

And it's not clear agencies are moving fast enough

And it's not clear that agencies like WPP are moving fast enough. Or taking the speed of AI seriously enough.

WPP is already struggling. Despite the AI investments, the business simply isn't growing that much right now. The company's organic revenue was up just 0.3% in Q4 as clients tighten belts.

During recent earnings reports, WPP's CEO Mark Read commented on OpenAI's Sora, which generates videos. When asked about the impact on WPP's business, Read responded:

“I don’t think it changes our strategy ... I think it reinforces what we are doing. What clients need is work that’s copyright-proof, that [is] able to accurately represent their brands and reality. And Sora is not yet at that stage.” 

"That's a dangerous response," says Roetzer, given that Sora is still in limited preview and we don't fully know what it's capable of.

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