AI-Infused Ads Give New Options to Founders

Jun 8, 2023
Suzanne Reeves & Kirk Clyne

AI-Infused Ads Give New Options to Founders

Do you ever feel nervous just thinking about creating an advertising campaign?

You aren't alone.

If you're an early stage entrepreneur, you might even avoid thinking about it, saying to yourself, "I don't need to worry about advertising yet."

If you don't have seed funding or an angel investor (or three), then you may feel grimly committed to creating ads yourself — crossing your fingers and hoping for the best.

On the other hand, if you're lucky enough to have funding, you may believe you have no other option than forking out The Big Bucks to cover Big Agency price tags.

Colorful illustration of a crowd of people gathered near a laptop
Image generated by authors in Midjourney

There's so much to consider and "get right" for an effective campaign that the path to success may seem unclear and overwhelming, especially if you are bootstrapping and/or you haven't achieved product market fit yet.

But before you give in to any avoidant tendencies lurking in your psyche, we've got a few ideas and a few AI tools to share that might help you breathe a bit more easily — or even make you want to dive into advertising sooner than later!

Why advertising should be on your radar  

There are lots of uses for advertising when launching a new business, but there are two in particular that are critical for early stage founders: early validation and public launches.

$100 idea validation

If you're in the very early days, it might already be time to spread the word — even if you don't have an MVP built yet.

Why on earth would we recommend you pause on building and focus on an ad campaign instead?

A simple ad campaign can let you know whether you should bother taking your idea further — before spending oodles of time and money building an MVP.

Many founders will put up a landing page with a wait list, and send it to everyone they know. But this alone won't tell you whether strangers would actually pay money for your solution. By using a targeted ad with a simple "Buy" button, you can take your validation one step further.

See our article $100 Idea Validation to learn more about this approach.

Increase your odds of a successful launch

Like many early stage founders, you may think you don't need to consider creating an ad campaign until your minimum viable business is ready for launch. But you may want to reconsider.

The benefits of starting marketing early are plenty, including cultivating brand awareness, fostering customer relationships, and gleaning valuable early feedback.

By sparking intrigue and starting a dialogue around your product in its early stages, you can tap into potential consumers' interest, develop your brand story, and generate pre-launch buzz.

On the flip side, launching without a robust awareness campaign can hamper success by thrusting a product into a consumer market that is unaware of its value — or even its existence — leading to slower adoption rates, and a longer path to profitability.

Painting of a rocket on a launchpad, surrounded by billboards that read 'AD'.
Image generated by authors in Midjourney

AI solutions to traditional advertising woes

Even if you were already convinced that advertising is worthwhile for early stage founders, you may not necessarily have the skills or talent to create an ad campaign on your own — never mind knowing whether your efforts will actually be effective.

Some tech giants believe they have found a solution for this.

New AI-powered ad tools take the stage

Google recently announced updates to its Performance Max ad creation suite which include a robot that will help you create your ad — using simple, plain language inputs.

We’ll describe how it works below, but you could also simply watch this slick promo video from Google that gives you the broad strokes.

Essentially, you supply the chatbot with the URL of the page you want to drive traffic to, and the AI will analyze the page, summarize it, suggest keywords, headlines and body copy. It will also recommend images from your site.

Oh, and it can generate brand new images for you, too.

Screen shot of the Performance Max interface that includes images, a chat panel, headlines, descriptions and a preview of the ad.
Image from Google

You can literally collaborate with the built-in chatbot to develop ad campaigns, asking it for suggestions, and providing it with direction. All the while, Google provides a ranking of "ad strength" for each solution based on its own data analysis.

In the same breath, Google also announced Product Studio, a new image manipulation tool designed to stretch your existing product shots.

Driven by AI, the tool allows you to remove the background from an image, generate new images, and upscale your results.

Animated gif showing Google's Product Studio. A small product image of a skin cream gets its image removed and then multiple different backgrounds are shown in succession. The four new renditions of the bottle are surrounded by peaches and plants.
Image from Google

By letting you repurpose a single product image in different ways, Product Studio offers the ability to generate new campaign images without returning to the photography studio.

Meta has introduced a similar tool dubbed AI Sandbox. This "experiment" lets advertisers remove or swap out backgrounds (sound familiar?), automatically resize images for different advertising aspect ratios, and generate variations of copy lines for A/B testing.

While these tools won't be rolling out until July 2023, we've already done some digging to learn what these products can do. Take a look at our article Mad Men Machines to learn more.

So...should you go DIY for your ad campaigns?

For big budget, high-concept campaigns, these AI-infused tools will only take you so far. However, for a typical conversion-driven campaign focused on a product or service, these tools offer up some new ways of working.

Thanks to these emerging AI ad technologies, what today takes a team of people could be executed by just one person.

That's pretty exciting stuff!

Collage-style illustration of a young man holding an impossible number of creative tools, like movie cameras and musical instruments.
Image generated by authors in Midjourney

But should that person be you?

There will be lots of different opinions on this, but what we like most is the fact that founders will have more options for developing ad campaigns in the very near future.

You certainly will have the option to take a turn at playing Mad Men yourself. These new AI ad tools promise to give you a generous helping hand. Your work will be even more effective if you can hire a marketing strategist to create a playbook to guide your solo efforts.

Additionally, independent designers and smaller shops (cough cough, like us) will also be able to produce your ad campaigns quickly and efficiently, while undercutting the overhead costs of bigger players, saving you both time and money on achieving top-notch results.

The benefit of hiring creative professionals is that we've got the creative savvy to curate the best possible images and messages, and to pair them for maximum impact and effect.

We can also quickly spot which images and messages are on-brand for your business, so we won't risk diluting or confusing your market presence.

Also, unlike some other disciplines, we tend to take a holistic view: one that includes your business model, your audience, your brand, your values, your offering and (finally) your campaign.

Bottom line, we know how to identify and leverage magic when we see it.

Comic book-style illustration of a young adult wearing sunglasses and a superhero uniform while holding a laptop. Their cape blows behind them, reaching out of the frame.
Image generated by authors in Midjourney

AI for the win!

As AI technologies mature, we predict that similar solutions will emerge for social media, content calendars and other marketing activities. As the playing field levels, and marketing superpowers become democratized, you should expect to see big savings in time and money.

Plus, you'll have more choice in terms of who can offer robust yet affordable solutions — even doing it yourself!

Big Announcement

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(If you want to snag a discounted Early Bird rate, book us for a 15-minute chat to learn more about the subscription and provide us with your valuable insights and opinions before we launch.)


Kirk is a creative leader, design manager, and experience designer with a 20-year career that started in the dot com boom in San Francisco. Kirk previously co-founded Art & Science, a digital design agency that landed on the Globe & Mail’s Growth 400 list, and that is ranked as the #1 digital marketing agency worldwide on He sits on the board of the Bachelor of Design and UXD Certificate programs at Humber University, regularly sites on design awards juries, and is ranked in the top 1% of design mentors on ADP.

Suzanne has over two decades of design experience, a degree in Psychology from the University of Toronto and a BFA from Emily Carr University in Vancouver. Suzanne has led design & dev teams, worked on multi-million dollar projects, and spent 10 years running a 6-figure design firm as a solopreneur. She has been integrating cutting-edge technologies like AI and no code into her workflow for many years.