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Business

CyberAgent, Excite Japan tapping AI to craft online ads

Marketers adapt to scarcity of engineers

TOKYO -- Internet service companies such as CyberAgent and Excite Japan are preparing to meet the surging demand for online advertising with the help of artificial intelligence as they face a worsening shortage in engineers.

Internet advertising in Japan rose 13% on the year to 1.31 trillion yen ($11.9 billion) in 2016, according to advertising agency Dentsu. That figure has grown by double digits for three straight years, due in part to growing smartphone use. 

The popularity of web ads is surging, as they are a useful tool for companies to test the effectiveness of marketing techniques such as targeted advertising. But worsening engineer shortages are pushing companies to use more AI.

CyberAgent will set up a center Tuesday that will develop ads using the company's own AI technology. It will assign several people to the group for the time being. Its first project will involve creating search-related ads, which will appear above search results on sites such as Google.

In order for ads to appear, they need to include words that are linked to keywords searched. The use of AI will let CyberAgent churn out the large number of ads it needs to boost its chances of displays on search engines.

Next month, Excite will roll out an AI service that shows targeted ads on its website by analyzing interests and hobbies of site visitors. The service uses the company's Wisteria system to collect such user data as previously read articles and topics of interest. Excite also plans to offer the service to other companies.

Among other businesses, marketing firm Momentum Japan is developing a system to identify advertising fraud, while E-Guardian, a web monitoring company, is offering an image analysis system for use in business marketing.

Dentsu, meanwhile, has developed a system that predicts viewership of TV programs that use AI deep learning. The ad agency expects that those predictions will help it develop high-impact commercials.

(Nikkei)

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