Alex Collmer Interviews with Brazil’s Meio & Mensagem

By : Paulo Almeida


In an interview with Meio & Mensagem, one of the main content platforms that informs, inspires and connects marketing and communication professionals in Brazil, Alex Collmer, CEO and co-founder of Vidmob, guarantees that technology has never impacted the sector as much as Artificial Intelligence (AI) will. In his comparison, both digital advertising and social marketing were effectively revolutionary. But now, he says, AI will allow any marketing professional to create easily and more cheaply.

Marketing will be the area most affected by artificial intelligence (AI) in the short term. That’s the opinion of Alex Collmer, founder and global CEO of VidMob, an AI-based based platform for evaluating the performance of digital campaigns. Given the opportunities for creation and speed gains that AI provides, the differentiator of brands will be the creativity of the pieces in relation to the sea of content broadcast media channels. In this scenario, in addition to creating the “best prompt”, the data will be essential for gaining efficiency and effectiveness, especially in the face of the end of third-party cookies. “Companies are excited about the use of generative AI to create content and make immediate decisions. It will be commodity. You need to create a data foundation so that professionals can tell these various tools specifically what to do, he says.

Meio & Mensagem – Why will marketing be the area most affected by artificial intelligence in the short term?

Alex Collmer – When you’re playing with one of these big language models, immediately what you see is that there’s incredible power in terms of the ability to create language and simplify things, rephrase them or test different messages. That’s a big part of marketing. In the generative AI business, you can take any concept and immediately get at least one example of it. It may not be perfect. It might not have a great representation of your product, the actress might have seven fingers, there might be problems, but you can start experimenting there. It’s almost as if marketing is the epicenter of AI’s impact. We’re going to experience the biggest impact in terms of job change. Some jobs will be less necessary. Other jobs will be created, but we will also experience the effectiveness and efficiency that technology can provide.

M&M – With the data that exists regarding advances in artificial intelligence, what are the gaps and opportunities?

Collmer – We’ve never seen something that impacts the entire industry as fundamentally as AI. Certainly, the shift to digital advertising and social marketing had a very big impact and all of that was a kind of revolution in itself. But the idea now is that basically every marketer on the planet will be able to create infinitely, “with relative ease and very low cost. It’s a whole new paradigm. Before, the challenge was to create enough content for different formats, channels and platforms. That was the struggle: the scarcity of content for these channels. Suddenly, that’s coming to an end. We’re moving into a world of content abundance.

The challenge will shift very quickly to how one marketer makes one piece of creative more effective than another. This is not often captured in AI discussion fines. Companies are excited about creating and making millions of versions of creatives, but so can competitors. It’s not just about how I make the content, it’s about how I use AI to create more effective content that improves business performance.

M&M – You mention that companies are unlikely to be prepared for the pace of change imposed by AI. How can they prepare?

Collmer – First of all, companies need to start putting the database in place so that they can get the most out of these different AI tools. Companies are excited about using generative AI for content creation and instant decision-making. It will all be amazing, but it will also be commoditized. It won’t matter if you use Dalle.e, Midjoumey, Runway or Firefly. They’re all amazing. They all do the same thing. It doesn’t matter if you use Google Maps, Apple Maps, Waze or any other navigation software, what really matters is that you put in the right address. You need to create a database so that professionals can actually tell these various AI tools specifically what to do. Once you have that data infrastructure in place, it’s basically just about playing and experimenting with all the other component parts and finding out what the right strategies are for the tasks.

M&M – AI faces issues of copyright, deep fakes and content moderation. What is VidMob’s position on this?

Collmer – It’s an interesting and dynamic space because there are big companies that are being used extensively and will probably face some class action or legal challenge over the origin of the data. We are somewhat compelled by some of Adobe’s AI tools. Firefly is trained entirely on licensed media, so there’s no risk of copyright issues. Many brands are discovering that this is a strong selling point. What we want to do is say that the brand can choose to use whatever AI tools it wants. We’ll provide the inputs and insights that can help you get the most out of these tools. That’s how we look at it when we use AI to analyze media. We’re always working with the advertiser’s content. So they own that content.

M&M – VidMob has extensive data on which campaign elements do and don’t generate results. What are the patterns that don’t perform well, but creatives insist on using?

Collmer – There are some obvious patterns and they’re so obvious that it’s almost surprising they still exist. There’s still a lot of creative content made for digital channels that basically follows TV patterns. This content tells a story and, at the end, shows the brand logo or displays the call to action. On many of these digital channels, by the time you reach the ninth or tenth second, the audience has gone. Huge amounts of money are spent where the audience has no idea what the brand is or what they’re trying to communicate. All they’re doing is promoting all their competitors by showing products without indicating the brand. It’s kind of companies to waste their money promoting their competitors, but it doesn’t do their business any good. One of the things that technology can do is show that when you display your logo, only 2% of your audience is still there. So you’ve wasted 98% of your money and that’s the most obvious, very common and easy thing to fix.

M&M – What are the elements that perform well but aren’t exploited?

Collmer – Video has a lot of room for improvement. The influencer and creator categories are doing very well on TikTok and other platforms. This idea of authenticity is good and it’s an opportunity to work with creators to put things out there in an organic and authentic way and then find the pieces that resonate and drive or add media dollars behind them.

M&M – VidMob has partnerships with social networks with different commercial formats. How do they work and how is content measured by platform?

Collmer – We partner with the main social platforms and this complexity of data in the media environment is what led to the start of VidMob. It used to be very easy for a marketing professional. You simply made a TV or radio ad. Now, that’s no longer the world we live in. And even if things look the same, like Instagram Stories, which looks like Snapchat and TikTok, they’re really quite different and you have to do different things to be successful on each of these platforms. The first thing we do is integrate with the ad manager, i.e. APIs, so that we can get information about the ads and their performance. With this comes the format information and all the other metadata about the ad. And then we can do the analysis. If the advertising is effective, they will invest more. That’s the root of our relationships. The platforms come and say: Hey, we have this marketer who wants to spend a considerable amount of money. They’ve got a big campaign coming up, but the ads aren’t working very well. Can you help? We’ll come in, do analysis and help them understand how to improve performance with the hope of putting them in a position to improve their business.

M&M – The end of cookies on Google has begun and many companies still lack a strong database. What’s the outlook?

Collmer – The elimination of cookies will change everything in the industry. For too long, companies have relied on the very refined nature of media targeting: being able to speak to the right person at exactly the right time. If there’s someone who desperately wants to buy a truck and you find them exactly at that moment, on some level, no matter what anyone says, creativity may not be so important. But as we lose cookies, we lose the ability to have visibility and signposting. So that ability to target is diminishing. What’s happening now is that creative has to work harder. It’s like a balance sheet. As the effectiveness of media decreases, the effectiveness of creative needs to increase. There’s still a lot of data to use and impute that creative effectiveness, but there will be a trade-off where creative simply needs to be better. Also, another strategy is to connect other forms of measurement, whether it’s marketing mix modeling (MMM), brand lift or other non-cookie-based trackers.

M&M – What are the limits of AI in the exercise of creativity?

Collmer – Professionals often worry that AI will replace their jobs. I don’t think that’s true, but rather that someone who uses AI better than you will steal your job. There will always be a need for humans involved in reading AI insights to extract the real essence of it and then make the appropriate creative decisions.

The brands that figure out how to interweave human creative decision-making with these AI systems will be the ones that truly achieve differentiated and unique results. Companies that rely entirely on AI will be like all their competitors and it will be very difficult to stand out, to have any kind of lasting brand value. Many will fall into this trap. Google and Meta are launching fully AI-based systems such as Performance Max and Advantage Plus. Many small businesses and medium-sized clients will find this incredible. Because they don’t have to think about creativity, they don’t have to do the work. But they’ll realize that they’re not building any lasting brand value. They’re just spending money on these platforms. The professionals who are willing to focus on the brand and apply that extra human layer on top of the AI tools will be the ones who really accelerate and stand out.

M&M – VidMob has hired Robert Wollner, former global agency lead at Google, to the executive board and as global vice president of agency partnerships. What does this mean for the future of the company?

Collmer – He has a lot of experience working with big agencies. Most of our big clients have creative and media agencies. We want to strengthen these partnerships. In the same way that we work with big brands, we want agencies to see us as a useful tool for their business, not someone who competes and tries to take business away from them. Robert is focused on partnerships with the big agency groups and how we can work with them to help them deliver a better service and results for their key clients. The São Paulo team works with many agencies in Brazil. They have shown the rest of the world how we can follow the example they set. We want to help the whole ecosystem, whether it’s a creative agency, a media agency or a brand.