Stagwell CEO Mark Penn predicts AR and AI will revolutionize digital advertising industry

May 8, 2023
Stagwell CEO Mark Penn predicts AR and AI will revolutionize digital advertising industry
Stagwell CEO Mark Penn

Top marketing CEO Mark Penn has predicted that augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) are set to revolutionize the digital advertising industry.  

According to the Stagwell chief, AR is still in its infancy but has enormous potential as a new advertising format that can help and not hinder shopper experience.  

“As I always say, the best TV ads have already been done, and the best digital ads are a long way from being done,” Penn said in an interview with Digiday.  

“So my question really is, how can we make advertising experiences more relevant, and yet also less cluttering to a consumer experience?”

Try out your own AR experience right now

Penn, who previously worked in politics, public relations and strategy for Microsoft, has increased Stagwell's revenue to $2.7 billion since it was founded in 2015. It merged with agency network MDC Partners in 2021 to expand its roster of digital services.

Penn said that he sees using AR as normal as using a phone or a watch in the future, with AR glasses replacing phones as the primary device for AR experiences.  

He said: “For a number of years, automated reality was under-emphasized in terms of potential long-term impact. I was at Microsoft when HoloLens was being developed. I see that there’s still a lot to do in terms of miniaturization, and I think it can be something that is as pervasive as a phone, as pervasive as a watch. That will be a critical part of people’s everyday lives.

READ MORE: Insights-driven AR: Why businesses should take note

“I think Apple has concluded that augmented reality and being able to put on a pair of glasses and get additional information is likely to be a strong marketplace. We will shift from the phone to glasses, but we want to be there in advance.”

Stagwell wants to be at the forefront of this transition and is committed to offering full-service and self-service options in the AR marketplace. Penn believes that both sides of the spectrum can support each other to create better, more innovative technology.

READ MORE: Revolutionizing product trials with augmented reality ‘try before you buy’

Stagwell is currently exploring more digital opportunities and for the fifth-year running is searching internally for the latest AR tech innovations and entrepreneurs through its annual innovation competition, which works in the same way as US TV program Shark Tank (Dragons’ Den in UK) that focuses on AR solutions for live events and sports. The competition will award winners $1 million to build a product to solve an AR marketing or technology problem.

The innovation competition has evolved from a program that was initially met with skepticism to a successful incubator of tech ideas. Penn believes that the competition has created a range of exceptional products, including ARound, which has developed augmented reality technology, and various AI projects.

“Inside every marketing company today are people who are bursting with ideas, potential innovations, and they are on the front lines of the market,” Penn said. “So ‘Shark Tank’ was a way to tap into that.”

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