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How AI Will Change Digital Marketing Forever

AI is becoming more integral to every aspect of our world, but what does it mean for marketing?

23May

If you believe the blogs, magazine features and tabloid news stories, AI is a revelation, and it’s going to change everything. From op-eds predicting an end to humanity at the hands of superior intelligence to scientists feverishly expounding on the future of medical care, AI is on everyone’s lips. Reporting on AI and it’s inevitable intrusion into our daily lives tends to largely focus on the worst case scenarios. But AI also has the power to change our lives for the better and revolutionize the way we interact with the world around us.

The ways in which we perceive the world around us are already shifting as technology develops. A recent study from Stanford and Cambridge Universities claimed that a computer can know more about its human owner than their friends and family. Artificial Intelligence was used to analyse 10 Facebook ‘Likes’, which then enabled the AI to to predict and study a participant’s personality. This is just the start, with Machine to Machine (M2M) and Machine to Consumer (M2C) interactions on the rise every day. In marketing, AI will touch on every aspect of the profession, from the means by which campaigns are conceived, run and measured to the very definition of marketing itself.

Taking the guesswork out of marketing

AI can be more focused on delivering ads to people, with less guesswork. EMarketer predicts that some 55% of all digital advertising dollars will be driven by programmatic initiatives in 2015, as machine learning takes precedence over human analysis. The figure is predicted to rise to 63% by next year, which represents $20 billion in programmatic ad buys. With AI, marketers will be able to understand consumers on an intricate level. 

The entire experience will be tailored to the recipient to ensure every ad is relevant, a far cry from the days of blanket coverage and disruptive marketing techniques. Just like billboards on roadsides, pre-AI ads relied on a disruptive advertising strategy, designed to distract and conquer. Unfortunately, these efforts translated to little more than guesses about what consumers may want to buy based on the few details the company could glean from their IP address. This approach to advertising, however, failed to understand the context of individuated customer searches, an issue AI overcomes through ‘intelligent learning’.

Creating connections & developing a dialogue

Thanks to AI, marketing will no longer be a one-sided conversation. George John, writing in The Drum, explains 'Currently, with the possible exception of social media, marketing is a one-way channel... As AI technology improves and evolves it will progress beyond selecting the right message and design (crafted by humans) to deliver to the right person, over the right channel, at the most opportune time, to actually having a two-way conversation in real-time.' AI won’t just personalize content, it will allow consumers to provide instant feedback, ask questions about products and take advantage of special offers through interaction with the AI.

Personalized advertising becomes truly personal

When it comes to programmatic ad buying, the current process is largely dependent on a machine’s ability to make decisions. Variables like location, previous search history and search text syntax are taken into account when selecting the ad, but these are still largely impersonal generic ads. With AI, ads can be personalized to a far greater degree and instantly delivered to users based on a qualified profile shot of their entire browsing history. AI can ‘learn’ to avoid users who have never interacted with a specific type of advertisement. Each time a similar campaign is run it will know who is likely to engage and who isn’t, only targeting the most relevant users. Of course, the technology behind this kind of ultra-personalization is still being refined, but so far all signs point to a new era in personalized marketing. 

Websites become easier for everyone

With AI ensuring ads are now precisely targeted, user engagement will improve, saving brands significant advertising revenue while ensuring higher conversion rates and eCPMs. This is good news for the firms placing the ads, the sites hosting them and the user viewing the site. Because firms are earning more revenue through fewer ad placements, sites can trim the number of ads to only those which are relevant to that particular user. Not only will this improve the onsite experience for users, but it will increase the likelihood of people engaging with the advertising they do see.

Human input takes a back seat

Companies are now employing big data analysts and data scientists in marketing departments to uncover insights to drive business decisions, but the introduction of AI will eventually transform the very role of humans in marketing. CMOs (Chief Marketing Officers) at several tech-savvy firms are already witnessing the influence of AI on daily operations. The difference being that whilst today the role of a CMO is to create and source content that increases brand visibility and continues to generate revenue, AI will tackle several of these responsibilities. No longer will CMOs have to adjust media campaigns according to new trend progressions. AI’s ability to adapt to changes in real-time means the implementation of marketing campaigns will require less and less human interaction.

AI doesn’t have to be all-controlling, however. Some companies are already using it to provide updates to changing market trends which can then be taken into account by a CMO and applied at their own discretion for subsequent campaigns. The more artificial intelligence is used the more efficient it becomes, meaning it will be able to adapt to, and even anticipate, new trends as they happen. Instead, marketers will be tasked with establishing guidelines for the AI to ensure interactions with consumers remain within the appropriate brand context.

Office hours could become a thing of the past

With most mobile traffic occurring over the weekend, when these teams are out the office, artificial intelligence comes into its own as an optimization tool. Artificial intelligence optimises campaigns in real-time, taking the manual labour aspect away from the marketing team who can then concentrate on other, more subjective aspects of the marketing campaign.

A whole host of new roles will become fundamental to the continued marketing strategies of companies around the world. Working hours themselves will become less restrictive, with AI doing much of the work a human would have to do outside of work time. For instance, most mobile traffic occurs over the weekend, but for most companies this is the time when workers will be at home. AI can track interactions, schedule updates and optimise content according to what people are searching for, regardless of when or where the search is made.

Embracing the increase and development of AI is crucial to future marketing efforts. Despite all the scare stories, AI is a human creation that can be harnessed to enrich our lives in a multitude of ways. By leaving the most mundane, time-consuming and logic-driven tasks to AI, we free ourselves up to think more creatively, to focus our time and effort on more subjective matters and, if we’re lucky, come up with the next big revelation in tech.

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