Publicis Groupe is planning to invest an additional €300 million in AI initiatives over the next three years, as well as bringing a new AI platform to the forefront. The company’s new CoreAI system, part of a major AI transformation, will provide fresh AI capabilities throughout the entire organization. Of the €100 million budget for 2024, 50% will be allocated to people, including training and recruitment, while the other half will be invested in technology such as licenses, software, and cloud infrastructure.
The new AI updates, announced today, have already yielded positive results. Publicis Groupe’s stock price closed at a record high of €92 per share, an increase from €88.76 the day before. The company, set to report its annual results next month, also noted overall organic growth in 2023 was 6.3%, an increase from the previous guidance range of 5.5% to 6% that was shared in October. (The company’s stock price has risen 55% since the beginning of 2023.)
During a briefing about the AI investments, Publicis Groupe chief strategy officer Carla Serrano told Digiday on Thursday, “We’ve been involved in the AI game for quite some time. We were criticized for it six or seven years ago when we launched Marcel. So it’s quite interesting to see everyone getting involved in the AI trend.”
At the heart of the AI efforts is a new platform named CoreAI, which consists of multiple layers. CoreAI utilizes structured and unstructured data, and includes foundation AI models from across Publicis Groupe. Additionally, the platform involves third-party AI services partners such as OpenAI, Adobe, Amazon, and Microsoft.
Publicis execs have identified five key areas for CoreAI: Insights and strategy, media planning, creative and production, software development, and operations. The platform was built using “trillions of data points” and a database of 2.3 billion consumer profiles, and heavily relies on Publicis subsidiaries like Publicis Sapient and data giant Epsilon.
As chief solutions architect for Publicis North America, Sam Levine Archer emphasized, “The integrity of the intelligence that is rooted in the differentiation of the data assets is the most important piece here,” pointing out that the company sees 650 billion midstream impressions daily across digital, commerce, and social platforms.
CoreAI’s engineering work started in the second half of 2023, and Publicis plans to release some capabilities in the first half of this year. The company also intends to present at the annual VivaTech conference in Paris.
The types of data owned by Publicis Groupe are crucial for training its AI models on historical and real-time data, as well as any future data to improve CoreAI over time. The company is also focused on adhering to various privacy protocols to safeguard client data and to ensure that confidential data isn’t used to train models in unintended ways.
“We’ve discussed some of the new roles that are emerging. Prompt engineers didn’t exist a year ago. I believe an ethical task force — that’s examining both the training process and some of the limitations and changes that we need to make before we go public — will become a larger role in our organization moving forward,” said Serrano.
Longtime analyst Brian Wieser noted that Publicis’s long-term ownership of Sapient gives it more credibility than other agency holding companies, but he reiterated that it doesn’t guarantee success.