Pencil is an AI-powered tool that generates Facebook ads automatically using your brand assets and creative assets.
Pencil both generates creative and uses prediction to improve advertising performance.
We spoke with Pencil co-founder and CEO Will Hanschell to learn more about how this marketing AI solution works.
In a single sentence or statement, describe your company.
Pencil's mission is to generate the unexpected ideas that get results. Our platform machine-generates advertising that is predicted to be creative, effective, and on-brand.
How does your company use artificial intelligence in its products?
We apply AI to each step of the creative advertising workflow to make it more productive. Our algorithms focus on both generation (copywriting, video editing, making subjective branding decisions to produce finished ads) and prediction (deriving insights from ad metadata and analyzing historic return-on-ad-spend to suggest which generated ads might work best).
What are the primary marketing use cases for your AI-powered solutions?
Social media performance advertising for DTC/ecommerce brands.
What makes your AI-powered solution smarter than traditional approaches and products?
We talk about enabling marketers to 2X their results (and we have data from over 100 campaigns to support this on average) while reducing their cost and time to produce ads by 10X (a Pencil machine-generated ad costs as little as $10 and is made in one minute, while a single hour of a skilled designer's time can be as much as $100).
Are there any minimum requirements for marketers to get value out of your AI-powered technology? (e.g. data, list size, etc.)
Marketers should have brand assets (logos, fonts, colors) and creative assets (product images, brand video, UGC) to use as inputs. They should also be able to connect Pencil to a Facebook Ads Manager account to feedback ROAS results data.
Who are your ideal customers in terms of company size and industries?
We work primarily with DTC/ecommerce brands and performance agencies who spend $20,000 to $1 million per month on social media advertising, measure ROAS, and care deeply about both branding and growth. Our customers tend to offer either physical products (cosmetics, consumer goods) or digital products (apps, games).
What do you see as the limitations of AI as it exists today?
AI will be capable of any task for which there is training data and a desire to automate. But AI can never be accountable for any task, only humans can do that.
What do you see as the future potential of AI in marketing?
Marketing will continue to be above the line (ATL) and below the line (BTL), but the divide will become more extreme. BTL will become increasingly automated by AI—all ads shown on a screen and for which there is feedback data will be machine-generated and served. ATL will become increasingly human, in that it will be purpose-driven and business model driven.
Any other thoughts on AI in marketing, or advice for marketers who are just getting started with AI?
Look for off-the-shelf solutions with a short time-to-value and which integrate with your existing, or ideal, workflows. Adopting AI should not be an R&D exercise. If an AI solution requires you to provide all the data, it's likely that you won't have enough data to provide. Additionally, try to find solutions capable of both automation (delivering time/cost savings) and augmentation (improving outcomes).
Paul Roetzer is founder and CEO of Marketing AI Institute. He is the author of Marketing Artificial Intelligence (Matt Holt Books, 2022) The Marketing Performance Blueprint (Wiley, 2014) and The Marketing Agency Blueprint (Wiley, 2012); and creator of the Marketing AI Conference (MAICON).