I’m sure many people would be surprised by a recent study from Stanford and Cambridge Universities that suggests computers know more about you than your friends and family. Researchers found that by using Artificial Intelligence (AI) they were able to predict and study a participant’s personality by analyzing just 10 Facebook likes.
Over the last year I’ve seen AI appear in the news agenda with increasing frequency. The Turing Test of a computer’s intelligence was met, AI start-ups were acquired by internet giants, Hollywood movies including “Chappie,” “Ex Machina” and “Her” were based solely on AI storylines, but it was the risks that really made the headlines. Highly regarded public figures such as Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking warned that we should be cautious of the rapid evolution of AI. I believe with the proper safeguards and procedures in place, the end of the world at the hands of robot armies is unlikely. While there may be a potential threat to the jobs we know today, overall I think AI will bring about more good than evil.
When it comes to marketing, AI will continue to impact the sector in two ways: First, the types of jobs marketers will do, and second, the way campaigns are conceived, run and measured. There’s already fear that programmatic buying systems are threatening the jobs of media planners and media buyers. Indeed technology and automation has continued to impact the job market across industries, but simultaneously it has created new roles and opportunities.
Many of the jobs people have today in marketing didn’t exist a decade or two ago. Web designers, SEO consultants, social media experts and mobile and web app developers are all relatively young professions. It is true to say that the impact of technology and automation advancements is positively far reaching. Technology is freeing up our creative potential to be applied to our business models, strategic thinking and brand marketing propelling the creative economy to a state of real maturity, fast.
The role of the CMO has already been revolutionized by AI. The demands on the modern-day CMO are quite extraordinary; although their central and long-term objective of creating revenue and driving brand awareness remain the same. CMOs have never had so much data available to them to make decisions but, so too, they’ve never been held so accountable.
The scale of the opportunity and volume of data these new marketing platforms are creating is not only changing the role of the marketer but the skills that marketing departments require. Marketing departments are now employing big data analysts and data scientists to uncover insights to drive business decisions. Marketing technologists are bridging the gap between the marketing function and IT, while SVPs of digital strategy understand the potential of harnessing data and technology to improve the effectiveness of marketing across every channel in order to drive revenues.
With the use of AI, marketing experts in the industry are actively talking about creating programs to solve problems that are beyond human scale challenges and assisting CMOs in achieving their goals more effectively. It’s not just when to initiate a campaign that AI will change, I think it will fundamentally change the way businesses, products and services are marketed as well. As AI technology improves and evolves, we’ll see it progress beyond selecting the right message and design (crafted by humans), delivering to the right person, over the right channel, at the most opportune time to actually having a two way conversation in real-time. The appropriateness of this dialogue is the challenge of future marketers who will need to become experts in managing these machines and establishing the parameters of these conversations. After all, the one thing that robots lack that we humans have is common sense.