Three years ago we started with a question — what if you could use advanced language/copy and video AI to generate unlimited variations of Facebook and Instagram ads?

What would they look like?

How would they perform?

How would humans and machines work together?

We believed that AI would be as fundamental to creativity in the future
as the pencil was in the past — so we called our platform Pencil.

We decided to call it MGC — machine-generated creative.

We now have over a hundred brands and agencies using MGC, so we’re starting to learn how humans and machines…

Machine-generated content has arrived, here are eight principles to get started

Eight principles to get started with machine-generated content
Eight principles to get started with machine-generated content

I spent seven years working at Facebook between 2012 and 2019, first helping companies invest over $1 billion on our ad platforms, and then using them myself as a marketer.

After I left, I thought that was it. The last thing I thought I’d do next would be Facebook Ads — I’d already dedicated seven years of my life to that! But then I started researching Creative AI and met two brilliant tech co-founders named Will and Sumukh. They were building a very new machine-generated content(MGC) platform called Pencil, and I was hooked.

Now I get to work on Pencil…

Why machines do it better and how to get started

Image by a human — Mykim Dang

In January 2020, I published Facebook Advertising Decoded in 15 Minutes. It shared principles and examples I learned working at Facebook from 2012 to 2019, investing over $1 billion on FB and Instagram ads.

I originally wrote the essay to avoid talking about ads, because I was swamped with requests for advice from various friends and founders. But instead, I found myself having more conversations than ever about Facebook direct response (DR) ads in particular, with a whole new group of VCs, Direct-To-Consumer (DTC) brands, e-commerce and agency founders.

The thrust of that first essay was simple:

Use Facebook the…

Principles I learned from over $1 billion of Instagram and Facebook campaign investment

Keeping the network working. Facebookers in the Odense Data Center in Denmark.

November 2020 update — I am now working on using Creative AI to automatically generate FB Video Ads that get results. See examples at

Over seven million businesses will invest over $80 billion across Facebook’s apps and feeds in 2020, and most of them will not do it well.

FB is the world’s most powerful marketing platform, but few make the effort to understand how it really works.

And that’s no surprise — it’s complex, disruptive, and it changes weekly.

I spent seven years working at FB between 2012 to 2019, first helping companies invest over $1 billion on…

19 strategies CMOs can use to take charge, adapt faster, and optimize the metrics that matter

Red Bull are the champions of ‘storydoing,’ one of 19 top CMO strategies.

August 2020 update — Also check out a new essay How to Create Facebook Ads with AI in 8 steps

The typical CMO tenure is half that of the CEO — 3.6 years compared to 7.2 years. One of the reasons we’ve seen Chief Marketers struggle for decades is that they don’t get a full mandate to disrupt. Without it, they adapt too slowly and they can’t shift the metrics that matter.

Armed with more customer data and tools than ever before, it’s time for the new generation of Chief Marketers to step up and show how marketing can drive…

Despite all the costs, danger and hard work, there are 7 ways that skiing made us a stronger family

My son Eddie, learning the rules of the mountain

We’re a ski family. We put skis on all the boys by the age of 3, and never missed a season.

In Asia we started in Japan and New Zealand; living in Europe it was Austria and France; now in the US we’ve explored Tahoe, Utah, Colorado and Whistler.

We saved and made sacrifices along the way to fund our trips, and felt grateful each year we could afford to ski.

Half our family photos and memories feature white-capped mountains and happy, goggle-faced kids.

But when a friend with young kids asked me a simple question — “Should we teach…

James Chadwick

Co-founder @ Pencil, Sequoia-backed Creative AI // 7 years @facebook // Advisor @otter_ai // Author of “Path” @

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