Most everyone is aware of how ubiquitous artificial intelligence (AI) has become. Almost all economic sectors have been impacted by the technology. The marketing sector is no exception. When people discuss AI, they are most often referring to machine learning (ML). Eric Siegel (@predictanalytic), a former computer science professor at Columbia University, explains, “The much better, precise term [for AI] would … usually be machine learning — which is genuinely powerful and everyone oughta be excited about it.” According to futurist Bernard Marr (@BernardMarr), the marketing sector IS getting excited about it. He writes, “Marketing is one of the areas of business operations where it is widely predicted that artificial intelligence will drive enormous change. In fact, a McKinsey study found that, along with sales, it is the single business function where it will have the most financial impact. This means that if you’re a marketer and you’re not using AI, you’re missing out on the benefits of what is possibly the most transformational technology.”
Marr doesn’t believe there are many marketers who aren’t using AI. “The chances that there are people out there doing marketing today and not using AI in any shape or form,” he writes, “is somewhat unlikely.” If that statement is true (and I suspect it is), Jason Johnson, Chief Marketing Officer of Cupid Media, believes many marketers have yet to immerse themselves fully in the technology. He writes, “Marketers are standing at a precipice when it comes to strategy and automation. Advanced systems are seen as the next step in marketing, but for many businesses, the concept is still uncharted territory. However, those who don’t adopt the rapidly advancing technology into their marketing plans will quickly be at a huge disadvantage.” The widespread use of AI in marketing motivated journalist Michael Peres (@MikeyPeres) to conclude that artificial intelligence is the new head of marketing. Nevertheless, he asks, “Just how effective is artificial intelligence when it comes to connecting with real people?” Good question. Most pundits believe it is very effective.
How Marketers are Changing with the Times
According to journalist Shreshta Raina, artificial intelligence is advancing digital marketing at a rapid pace. She explains, “Artificial intelligence has already impacted the management of marketing campaigns and how businesses interact with their clients. The world of digital marketing has seen a significant transformation with the introduction of AI. It helps companies create efficient digital strategies, optimize marketing efforts, and boost return on investment.” In fact, digital marketing has proved so impactful it has drawn marketing dollars away from other channels. As the marketing landscape changes, most marketers find they, too, must transform. As Marr explains, “Advertisers face the perennial problem of working out how best to place adverts in order to achieve the most bang for their buck.”
Kimberly A. Whitler (@KimWhitler), the Frank M. Sands Sr. Associate Professor of Business Administration at the UVA Darden School of Business, insists, that, to achieve their desired goals, “Today’s marketers [must] adapt to new technologies, consumer habits and practices, channels, and methods of engagement arguably faster than any other generation. One of the hottest areas of interest is artificial intelligence.” During an interview with Rajkumar Venkatesan (@Rajkumarvenk), a Darden School colleague, she asked, “Given these changes, how should marketing professionals reinvent themselves?” His answer should provide comfort to tech-challenged marketers. Rather than becoming AI experts, he told her that marketers need to understand how AI works generally so they can interact with data scientists.
He explained, “Modern marketing professionals are connectors and collaborators. They are the key executive within organizations to advocate for customers. They need the ability to provide data science professionals the right guidance and ask the right questions that can be answers by AI/analytics. We are not at a stage and perhaps never will be in the near future, where AI/Analytics can manage a marketing campaign end to end without human intervention. There is uncertainty in any predictions, and the marketer’s role is to combine the data driven predictions with their individual heuristics about the customers.” In other words, learn how AI can be a tool rather than an impediment or a boss. Peter Day (@dr_peter_day), Chief Technology Officer at Quantcast, explains, “In the words of Roy Amara, great technology makes ‘simple things simple, and complex things possible.’ AI and more specifically, machine learning, has the potential to do just that. In the world of advertising and marketing, the more ‘tools’ we can put in the marketer’s toolbox to make campaigns more effective, the better.”
How AI Can Enhance Marketing Efforts
If you are unaware of the many ways AI can enhance digital marketing efforts, experts from Forbes Agency Council offer a few suggestions that could get your creative juices flowing. Those suggestions include using AI to:
1. Understand the emotions creative work creates.
2. Develop natural language and brand persona.
3. Execute conversational advertising in real-time.
4. Offload and improve labor-intensive work.
5. Enable media monitoring and transcription services.
6. Track prospects’ search terms for intent data.
7. Execute programmatic advertising strategies.
8. Quickly ideate and improve writing.
9. Predict shifts in how people search.
10. Customize content to target prospects.
11. Provide accurate intelligence for data-driven campaigns.
12. Serve up dynamic ads to the right customers.
13. Implement microinteractions.
14. Personalize customer experience with ‘try before you buy’.
15. Identify patients’ problem areas for healthcare clients.
To dig deeper into those topics, I suggest reading the entire article. Day cautions marketers not to get lost in the technology. He warns, “Do marketing, not martech.” He elaborates, “With AI and machine learning, marketers can move from pulling levers or fussing over pivot tables, and worse, worrying about their adtech or martech systems. They can focus on creativity, analyzing psychographics, or testing ideas. Machine learning is a fundamental technology that makes sense of data, finds patterns, and can make predictions — which ultimately leads to smart decision-making, and better business outcomes.”
The above discussion should calm fears that AI is becoming the next CMO at your company. It’s a tool, not a boss. However, it is a tool that is changing the marketing landscape forever. Courtney Behrens, Director of B2B marketing at Brother International Corporation, explains, “It’s no surprise that many companies have already begun to adopt marketing intelligence in their digital marketing strategies, which can generally be broken down into three main areas: smarter customer interactions, personalization and risk assessment.” Peres concludes that advances in artificial intelligence are making systems more sensitive to human emotions and, as a result, this “more personal aspect of artificial intelligence could take the marketing game to a new level. One can only sit back and watch eagerly as more and more new players deal their cards in the world of AI marketing.”
 Eric Siegel, “Why A.I. is a big fat lie,” Big Think, 23 January 2019.
 Bernard Marr, “Artificial Intelligence And The Future Of Marketing,” Forbes, 9 September 2022.
 Jason Johnson, “Why marketers need to jump on the AI bandwagon,” Venture Beat, 25 September 2022.
 Michael Peres, “Meet Artificial Intelligence, the New Head of Marketing,” Grit Daily, 31 March 2021.
 Shreshta Raina, “How is Artificial Intelligence Transforming the Future of Digital Marketing?” Inventiva, 2 July 2022.
 Kimberly A. Whitler, “Why AI Is Pushing Marketing Professionals to Reinvent Themselves,” Forbes, 24 July 2021.
 Peter Day, “Why Even Marketers Should Understand the Value of Machine Learning,” insideBIGDATA, 14 September 2021.
 Forbes Agency Council, “15 Exciting Ways To Leverage Artificial Intelligence In Marketing And Advertising,” Forbes, 5 May 2022.
 Courtney Behrens, “3 Ways Artificial Intelligence Will Change Marketing Forever,” AdAge, 3 September 2021.