- Publicis Groupe is joining an industry coalition that promotes the responsible and transparent use of artificial intelligence (AI) at an inflection point for the technology’s marketing applications, according to a press release.
- This is the first major ad-holding group to serve as Steering Committee member for the Coalition of Content Provenance Authenticity (C2PA), which formed in 2020 to address online misinformation and certify the sources of digital content. Founding members include Adobe, Arm, BBC, Intel, Microsoft and Truepic.
- C2PA seeks to develop a new framework for content verification, along with authenticating AI assets for brands, creators and consumers. Publicis signing on to the initiative signals that marketers are taking AI’s threats to areas like intellectual property (IP) and brand safety more seriously.
AI’s rapid ascendance in the mainstream has surfaced a number of ethical questions that marketers will need to grapple with as the honeymoon period closes. Who actually owns work that is generated by scraping media from other artists and storytellers? Should AI-generated images and videos disclose they were made via automation? How can brands ensure their IP is not being misrepresented or used to spread misinformation as AI output becomes more difficult to discern from the real thing?
Publicis is putting a stake in the ground to show it is taking these issues seriously at a time when competitors are eagerly touting their new AI capabilities. The company wants to position itself as a leader for responsible AI in the industry as calls for standardization and regulation grow louder.
C2PA’s mission is to develop a content verification framework that recognizes the complexities of a murky digital landscape. That goal faces steeper challenges as more work is delegated to software like OpenAI’s mega-popular ChatGPT. The organization has already implemented a tool called the C2PA Specification that helps verify original content across media formats including photo, video and audio.
C2PA collaborates with policymakers, academics and business leaders from a number of verticals, including tech platforms, publishers and now marketing services providers. Microsoft and Adobe, two of the coalition’s founding members, have helped spearhead the current generative AI arms race, with the former partnering closely with OpenAI to revamp its Bing and Edge products.
For agencies like Publicis, generative AI technology presents a double-edged sword. More sophisticated, speedier ways to produce a high volume of creative assets are appealing. Rival WPP last week unveiled a partnership with chipmaker Nvidia around a generative AI content engine purpose-built for such a task.
But automation taking over more duties, like making images, copy and videos for brands, poses risks to traditional creative teams that have fallen under pressure amid ad spending pullbacks. At the same time, clients will likely be on edge trying to manage their reputations as deepfakes and AI-generated media proliferate. Safeguarding IP is clearly top of mind for Publicis with the move to join C2PA.
“In an industry where bold, thought-provoking content has the power to move people, tell stories and demand action, we cannot afford the risk of bad actors compromising a creator’s authentic vision and creation,” said Carla Serrano, Publicis’ chief strategy officer, in a statement. “The C2PA’s efforts help protect that invaluable IP and ensure authentic creative visions are brought to completion — and verified along the way. And people can feel confident knowing that the content they’re viewing is unique, original, and straight from the source.”
Publicis has experimented with AI for several years, notably through an internal assistant called Marcel. The costly solution was at first the butt of industry jokes — including among Publicis staff — but could be viewed more favorably as such tools become commonplace. Publicis has performed well so far this year, in April claiming the spot as the world’s second-largest ad-holding group by revenue behind WPP.