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Advertising / AI / Ethics / Startups

AdSkate’s case for using AI technology in the advertising world

Cofounder and COO Akaash Ramakrishnan thinks artificial intelligence should be seen as a tool that assists humans, not one displacing them from their jobs.

At an AdSkate presentation. (Courtesy photo)

This editorial article is a part of Big Tech + You Month 2023 in’s editorial calendar.

From artists to journalists, lately everyone seems to love or hate AI.

For some people, artificial intelligence represents a way to make our lives easier and more efficient. Some creatives are concerned that machines could wind up remixing their work without giving them credit. More concerning, for others, is the fear that artificial intelligence could come with the biases of its human creators and lead to more discriminatory practices against marginalized people.

As the debate over whether AI is good or bad for our collective future continues, plenty of industries are embracing the tech. The technologists behind AdSkate — an East Liberty-based advertising tech company that’s been backed by the likes of Innovation Works, Carnegie Mellon University’s VentureBridge and Project Olympus and specializes in the development of cookie-less, contextual advertising solutions — feel that AI could be great for the Don Drapers of the world.

Why? Cofounder and COO Akaash Ramakrishnan told that AI can help advertisers and brands serve their customers better by allowing them to know them better, which it does by analyzing customers’ buying patterns and what goes into those choices.

“In the age that we now live in, machine learning artificial intelligence has become so ingrained in advertising,” Ramakrishnan said, “that without those aspects of machine learning, and artificial intelligence, it will become really hard for an advertiser and a brand to analyze and understand what their potential customers are going to do.”

Cofounder and COO Akaash Ramakrishnan. (Courtesy photo)

Recalling a previous job in a Michigan advertising agency, Ramakrishnan said his position entailed a lot of time working to understand not only how to appeal to customers, but the science of advertising, too. During that time and later with his fellow AdSkate cofounders, he came to the conclusion that there were still a lot of the “gaps” in the advertising world that technology could fill in.

“It’s supplementary and complementary to what an advertiser or marketer does,” Ramakrishnan said. “It’s not here to replace that, because fundamentally, and ultimately, it is in the hands of the advertisers or the marketer to finally execute that specific campaign, or execute that specific program that they have in mind.”

In 2018, luxury vehicle company Lexus released an advertisement scripted by AI. Other ad companies have used the technology to track the success and performance of their campaigns, and some agencies have taken to using AI tools to seek out social media influencers who could assist in spreading the word about their product.

Coming from the world of advertising himself, Ramakrishnan doesn’t view AI as something that would put advertising agencies out of work, but instead make their jobs easier. He’s not alone in thinking that. Take fellow Pittsburgh startup Abridge AI: Although its focus is in medical transcription as opposed to advertising, Abridge uses AI technology to document conversations between healthcare providers and patients. The goal, according to the company, is to create one less task for doctors and nurses who are often swamped.

In the case of AdSkate, in response to people who are worried, Ramakrishnan similarly says the technology exists to help humans.

“One thing that is important to know, is that any sort of AI solution that’s coming in, like ChatGPT, is created keeping the human in mind,” Ramakrishnan said. “It’s not here to replace the human, it’s essentially here to really help them grow and help them perform their job in an efficient fashion.”

Atiya Irvin-Mitchell is a 2022-2024 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments.
Companies: AdSkate
Series: Big Tech + You Month 2023

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