AI and the future of marketing

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28/11/2017

It is pretty safe to say that artificial intelligence is here to stay. We may not know where AI will take us, but the ride has already begun.

Unless you are very young, you probably remember the times when everyone used to say that robots can only do what scientists program them to. And not so long ago, it seemed that this would never change.

But it did. We are now at the point where our machines can learn, develop languages of their own, and even have self-awareness.

AI may as well bring us an lovely, utopian future, or quite the opposite. But it surely started changing industries and businesses.

Marketing was fast to adapt to this new, technology-driven world. Along with the machine learning and big data, AI is the key tool for today’s marketer’s goals.

2018 marketing goals

Sure, it’s all about the sales, as it has always been. But at this moment we have new ways of engaging the customer.

Automatization and personalization that are enabled by algorithms, artificial intelligence and big data are the main tools of reaching out to consumers of today.

Did you know that 90% of the world data have been collected in the past two years? The technology is huge. And while it is humanly impossible to analyze such vast amounts of information, it’s a no-brainer for our new artificially intelligent friends.

From marketing persona to marketing personalization

The behaviour of the consumer is an everlasting riddle that lays in the heart of marketing.

How to engage consumer? How to understand the motivation behind customer’s choices? What emotions drive sales? How to recognize prospects?

To cope with these questions, marketers of the past relayed on research and psychology. They analyzed and created marketing personas, sometimes also called buyer personas.

What are buyers personas? These are the psychological types that are most likely to buy a certain product. You can think of the marketing personas somewhat as of zodiac signs. They are just psychological traits neatly grouped in typical sets.

The truth is that, just like the zodiac, this approach has quite a few disadvantages. Just like the zodiac signs, marketing personas won’t really explain a person. People are just more complicated than that. A human is more than just a type.

Luckily for marketing, we live most of our lives online today. And we leave trails of who we are, what do we need and what do we want every minute of the day.

Every online action that we make says something about us. It says something about who we are and how do we feel.

And while it is humanly impossible to track this behaviour of our, let’s say, billion, or even a million, or even just a thousand of possible buyers – AI can easily do it. So easily, that it is even scary.

There is an algorithm (or many of them) out there right now, putting together a puzzle of you. They are busy understanding who you are, how you feel and what do you want.

And they are predicting. At this very moment, a piece of a code out there knows what will you want next Monday at 10 pm. Even if you yourself haven’t got a clue.

You can easily understand why at this very moment nobody knows will the sea-saw fall to the utopian or the dystopian side.

So, is the automatization and the personalization of marketing a good thing?

This depends entirely on the point of perspective. Yes, on a personal level, the AI and all the data about ourselves that we feed it with can leave us feeling exposed.

On the other hand, if that AI is gonna help us to never again wake up in the morning and undertake the embracing out-of-coffee coat over pyjamas trip to the nearest supermarket, that’s not too bad.

Or, on the more serious side, quite soon AI might save your life by understanding the severance of your health symptoms before you or your doctor does.

But, what does AI bring to businesses?

First of all, far better understanding of markets and trends. Both Brexit referendum and US election results fooled analytics.

But, AI knew.

It wasn’t about surveying the public, it was about understanding the sentiment behind countless online posts.

Another important impact on marketing that AI is already making is the way that we evaluate marketing campaigns.

For example, it was AI that understood when Expedia Canada’s ad irritated the consumers after only a few airings. It was something about the violin music in the ad that pushed the buttons.

The sentiment was caught by AI, and soon a new ad emerged.

The violin was smashed.

Both public and the company gained.

Is AI the end of human marketers?

While Ai might evolve faster then real life did, it is still far from perfect. And it is yet far enough from substituting human validation, and human creativity.

The case of odd YouTube for kids algorithm based videos proves just that. While it is easy for the algorithm to pick out on the most searched terms and mix and match them into keyword driven content hotchpotch, the results are still strange. Disturbing, even. No-one in a right mind (toddlers excluded) wants to see a video “Cars Screamin’ Banshee Eats Lightning McQueen Disney Pixar”.

It seems that it is still pretty much up to humans to direct the shape that AI will take in the future. And it is still our job to do whatever we can to make that sea-saw fall on the utopian side.

Or, at least keep the reasonable balance between the good and the bad that AI will bring to the humanity in the years to come.