Fear Of Change: What Marketers Really Think About AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) is said to be a boon to email marketers. But that’s not what comes out of a study by The Drum, in partnership with Sysomos.

This report shows that most marketers don’t understand AI. And they fear it will lead to job loss. In addition, they don’t want to let it anywhere near creative and recruitment — tasks that require a personal touch.

But they are not exactly cowering in their offices -- they also see the opportunities.

Of 200 marketers surveyed, most apparently in the UK and/or Europe, 85% think AI will have a significant impact on their activities over the next five years.

What’s more, 51% want to use AI for customer services, and 34% for media buying and planning, which presumably includes email deployment. Finally, 34% want to use it to garner competitive intelligence.

And in general, 62.4% want to invest in AI to increase productivity, and 60% to increase efficiency.

As for the bad news, 54% say they don’t understand AI. And 63% feel that AI will not automate creativity; only 17.4% believe it will.



What’s causing the lack of knowledge? According to Forrester research: “Marketers are having trouble understanding their current contextual marketing capabilities, let alone AI technologies,” the study says.  

Of the marketers polled, 34.9% are investigating the potential of AI. But 63.1% are not.

Sysomos concludes that “it makes sense because not everyone is actively investigating AI right now. Back-office and client-facing roles often happen in completely different parts of an organization so there’s a lot of siloed knowledge.”

Meanwhile, here’s a definition: “AI is the study of man-made computational devices and systems which can be made to act in a manner which we would be inclined to call intelligent,” the study states.

Granted, this survey is of overseas marketers. But anecdotal evidence suggests they are in sync with their U.S. counterparts

As for job loss, 61% of the respondents assume it will happen — but not to them.

Specifically, 25% “think that AI will take over 20% of their daily job, while 20% think it will take 50% of their role,” the study states.

However, “only 1% believe AI will take 90 or 100% of their role — which means most people still think they will be needed in their current job.”

One source says the jobs most at risk are those that are “routine, repetitive and predictable,” the study adds.

Still, it will happen. “It seems inevitable that AI will cause jobs to disappear,” Sysomos writes.

But it adds: “There are millions of professionals out there who have no administrative assistance or support, and it’s here AI can make their jobs better without displacing anyone.”

So how to we get rid of these fears, short of sending marketers into psychotherapy?

The study concedes that there are obstacles, but adds that “marketers are excited by the possibilities” of AI. But, as reported, one area will remain sacrosanct.

Marketers have “a high degree of confidence in creativity remaining firmly in the human realm — at least for now.” Email marketers, take note.

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