ThinkTV and Dr Nelson-Field partner up on AI-powered lab

New Smart Lab will tap machine learning and vision technology to investigate the true performance of TV advertising

ThinkTV has joined forces with noted media academic, Professor Karen Nelson-Field, on a new Smart Lab that will tap artificial intelligence technologies to help improve the way TV advertising performance is gauged.

The new ThinkTV Smart Lab will be directed by Nelson-Field, who is a professor of media innovation at the University of Adelaide and CEO of the new research joint venture, Media Intelligence Co. The lab will kick off a two-year research program aimed at helping advertisers and media agencies get the best out of TV by providing technology-driven evidence and clarity around multi-platform advertising.


Dr Nelson-Field said where existing knowledge is dated, or in areas where insights don’t yet exist, the lab will use machine learning and new computer vision technology to remove human error and bias.

The purpose-built lab is being funded by ThinkTV, the TV industry’s new research and marketing firm, but will be oversee by committed including ThinkTV representatives and broader industry partners including marketers and media buyers. Its initial findings are due to be presented at the body’s ReThinkTV marketing forum in Sydney on 30 November.

Dr Nelson-Field has worked with a number of high-profile brands on media optimisation, including Mars, Unilever, Google and Unruly/News Corporation. She also previously worked for the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for 10 years.

“We decided to call it a ‘smart’ lab due to the fact that smart technology, and in particular, artificially intelligent measures, will operate as the foundation of all research methodologies,” Dr Nelson-Field said. “Plus every output of the lab will be based on smart empirically grounded evidence, not transient case study type best practice.”

ThinkTV CEO, Kim Portrate, said there has never been a more important time for the media industry to take measurement and effectiveness of video advertising seriously.

“Our partnership with MIC shows just how serious Australia’s TV industry is about it,” she said. “The lab’s findings will play an important role in evaluating TV’s credentials for advertisers who are under more pressure than ever to spend their dollars efficiently and effectively.”

The lab will also support several internships for undergraduates from the University of Adelaide, a move aimed at fostering new talent in the marketing and media sector.

Last month, ThinkTV also announced a new $1 million study into quantifying the value and return on investment for TV advertising.

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