Navigating the AI Landscape:
A Thought Leadership Exchange

Industry Leaders Explore the Impact
of AI In the Advertising Landscape

June 20th, 2023

In the bustling atmosphere of Cannes, Don Sklenka, Ryan McConville, and Oz Etzioni engaged in a thought-provoking conversation, transcending the conventional discourse on AI. Diving deep into the nuances of the technology, they explored the diverse ways in which AI is shaping their respective industries.

Defining the AI Landscape

Ryan McConville, responsible for technology at NBC Universal, initiated the discussion by breaking down AI into two fundamental categories: traditional AI and generative AI. Emphasizing the need for re-education, he highlighted the distinction between the two and elucidated their roles in data analysis, trend identification, and predictions. The conversation unveiled the historical roots of AI, tracing back to the 1950s, and emphasized the prevalence of AI in various forms before it was coined as such.

Oz Etzioni, adding his insights, emphasized the palpable nature of AI today. He underscored how generative AI, especially popularized by models like ChatGPT, allows for human-like interactions with machines. This shift, he noted, marks a significant evolution in the accessibility and visibility of AI, enabling the broader population to engage with and understand its potential.

AI in Creative Strategy and Media Planning

The dialogue ventured beyond the conventional applications of AI, exploring its role in creative strategy and media planning. Oz Etzioni, at the forefront of these innovations, highlighted how generative AI simplifies complex processes involved in launching campaigns and building strategies. By leveraging AI to generate content efficiently, companies can save significant time and streamline operations.

Ryan McConville provided a concrete example from NBC Universal, showcasing how AI optimizes media planning. The AdSmart platform utilizes traditional AI to construct an optimized media plan across a myriad of networks and platforms. This automation allows for quicker decision-making and more efficient resource utilization, akin to a chess master analyzing data at an unparalleled speed.

AI as a Time Saver and Sustainability Contributor

The conversation seamlessly transitioned to the concept of time as currency. Both panelists agreed that AI should be positioned not as a threat to jobs but as a valuable time-saving tool. Ryan McConville highlighted how AI, when applied to non-value creating activities, enables individuals to focus on tasks that yield higher returns on investment, potentially leading to career advancement, increased hiring, and business expansion.

Another intriguing dimension of the discussion was the often-overlooked contribution of AI to sustainability. Oz Etzioni pointed out how the automation and efficiency gained through AI processes can lead to significant reductions in carbon footprints. From reducing screen time to optimizing CPU usage, AI emerges as a powerful ally in the broader sustainability narrative.

Looking Ahead: Uniting Industry Forces

In contemplating the future, Oz Etzioni expressed the hope that the industry would move beyond the hype surrounding AI applications. He envisions a time when the focus shifts from gimmicks to essential and impactful uses of generative AI. Collaboration and communication across the industry, he emphasized, are paramount to ensuring a united front in harnessing the true potential of AI.


The Cannes conversation among Don Sklenka, Ryan McConville, and Oz Etzioni painted a comprehensive picture of AI’s multifaceted role in shaping industries. From redefining traditional roles to optimizing media strategies and contributing to sustainability, AI emerges not only as a technological innovation but a catalyst for positive change. As industries continue to evolve, the conversation at Cannes marks a crucial step in steering the narrative toward responsible and impactful AI utilization.