Year by year, the buzz surrounding artificial intelligence and its looming take over of the marketing landscape only seems to grow bigger and stronger. It is widely evident, from digital marketing trends articles being published each year, to in-depth blogs which discuss its current applications in the digital marketing industry.
Investments in AI are also pouring. According to Constellation Research, businesses across all sectors – including marketing – will spend more than $100 billion per year on AI-powered technologies by 2025, up from a mere $2 billion in 2015.
With all this hype, many marketing professionals have already raised the biggest question: Will AI replace marketers in the near future?
Read on as we discuss in this infographic how AI has developed throughout the years, and if marketers should really be worried about it or think otherwise.
Many marketers are still divided on this conundrum, but the central fact is that Artificial Intelligence is no longer the “AI” that sci-fi writers and cognitive scientists had in mind decades ago.
AI technology has already advanced so much that it has already surpassed human intelligence in many ways. It can power machines to perform even menials tasks with extreme accuracy and precision, as well as to conduct data analysis at an astronomical rate greater than humans can ever do so.
One particular strength area of AI is image data processing. If the deep neural network – the underlying structure in deep learning algorithms – is provided with enough information, e.g. product labels, it can compare data in very complicated ways and find correlations and patterns that can separate even the most identical object from another.
The same principle is also being applied in modern search. As most marketers can recall, Google had integrated AI and machine learning in their search engine through RankBrain in 2015. Not only this AI-driven capability helps users get more refined search results but also prioritizes content that is fine-tuned to deliver an optimal online experience to searchers.
AI Has Already Changed Marketing
Whether we like it or not, AI has already changed the way we reach and interact with our customers. Many companies are developing or have integrated some form of AI technology into their tech arsenal to improve on what they do.
Some common applications are on the areas of ad targeting and customer segmentation, but there are other areas of possibilities which include:
- AI-powered chatbots that use customer data in real-time to answer queries and give precise advise when the customer is considering making a purchase. One example is Boomtrain, which allows eCommerce stores and publishers to deliver personalized recommendations to their customers.
- AI-enhanced visual search, which allows users to use their smartphone’s camera to find online information about any object they find in real-world.
- Optimized marketing utilize AI to make data-driven decisions that also takes into account unstructured data such as customer sentiment and mood. IBM Watson Marketing, for instance, can detect emotional states like anger, disgust, sadness, fear, and joy in call center conversations.
These developments prove that AI is no longer just trend; it is quickly becoming a must-have in today’s fast-changing and extremely challenging marketing landscape.
AI Can’t Do All the Marketing Legwork
While it is true that AI can be applied in a plethora of marketing functions, it’s quite a stretch to say that it will replace marketing roles soon. Indeed, the recent developments have made AI capable of correlating one image to another even with minimal data input, but marketing isn’t always about data – it also takes into account deeper, more complicated issues such as human culture and psychology.
Real human intelligence, as many experts would say, is socially-skewed. People hold social biases which for many years have impacted the way marketers deliver their messages.
AI-powered advertising might be able to deliver the ideal product based on the searcher’s search history and internet habits, but it wouldn’t be able to detect what that person’s perception is towards the brand that it promotes and motivations for purchasing. Such is important purchase factors and are deeply rooted to that person’s past experience with the brand’s offline and online campaigns, as well as with the experience of other people whom he/she interacted with his/her entire life.
In simplest terms, human marketers are still the ones that can create humanized marketing campaigns, at least until AI becomes so advance to understand the extreme nuances of human psychology and social science.
Context is the Key
To fully maximize the automation and data analysis capability of AI, it is up to human marketers to inject one important element that can make any campaign “human” – context.
Context plays an extremely crucial role in marketing now more than ever. It’s also a factor that AI can’t optimize, especially in digital channels such as social media where most, if not all, content or media are user-generated. This explains why marketing in social media and similar channels still require the creativity and cleverness of honed and experienced marketers.
As one article in MarketingProfs put it, “AI without context isn’t intelligence at all.”, and context is formed by our existing brand perceptions and motivations – both of which can’t be easily detected, let alone be “deep learned” by AI as of the moment.
However, that doesn’t mean that the cutting-edge data processing prowess of AI is all for nothing. When tapped the right way, i.e., partnered with the creative and social discernment skills of the human mind, it can help marketers be better at their job for the long haul.
Instead of viewing AI as a threat to the company’s marketing roles, it should be seen as a sophisticated tool that can be leveraged to enhance further the already effective strategies and tactics being employed. If properly used, AI can also help even companies with a shoestring marketing budget to overcome technical challenges that still hinder the organization from providing optimized marketing experience to their customers.
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