How artificial intelligence is transforming marketing

We investigate how the rise of AI technology and bots is set to change the nature of marketing strategy and the role of the marketing professional


Bring-your-own AI

Much of the work in bot development today is on the side of brand marketers, but it’s not impossible that consumers might also find a role for bots.

Kavanagh points to the Sydney-based startup, Meeco, as an early indicator of a consumer bot revolution, through its technology for creating personally-controlled identity preferences that can be used to signal intent to service providers.

“It is viable to think of a scenario where you could have services offered, and an agent acting on your behalf to receive them,” Kavanagh says. “Even some of the flight booking services, in the examples we are seeing in the US and Europe, are not dissimilar to this.”

AI-based apps are already emerging that can perform tasks such as answering email and scheduling appointments. The eventually possibility is for AI to act as agents on behalf of consumers, possibly in the form or apps or bots that scour the web for the best deals on anything from consumer goods to electricity contracts.

According to vice-president of the International Federation for Information Processing, Prof Mike Hinchey, you can already see the beginning of this in the way consumers use apps today.

“You will have to be interacting with whatever apps people are using, because they won’t be using websites,” he says. “And it will be the app of the month. And the ‘in’ app will change not just based on what it does, but who is using it.”

All of this leads to a future which becomes stranger and stranger, with AIs being used by brands to craft more compelling offers, while personal AIs are sifting and comparing these offers.

So what use will there be for humans at all?

Us versus the machines

Discussion of AI in any profession immediately raises questions of whether it will begin to supplant the role of humans in those professions. While technology has traditionally created more jobs than it destroys, this is a tendency rather than a rule, and may not always hold true. And often, the jobs its creates require a very different skillset to those it destroys.

Oracle’s Griffith is an optimist.

“The development of technology in marketing, especially AI, increases the need for humans, because it opens up potential for things you weren’t able to do before,” Griffith says. “You still need humans to work out what you want to do with that.”

Not everyone is so positive about the AI-driven future, however. Speaking ahead of his appearance at the recent Creative Innovation 2016 conference in Melbourne, US-based researcher and author of the book Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future, Martin Ford, says marketing is going to be taken over by algorithms and become extremely data-driven.

First to feel the heat will be those marketers engaged in routine activities, as these will be automated, but Ford says it is only a matter of time before AI starts moving up the value stack.

“We see that in even the more creative areas,” he says. “There is going to be a continuing role there, but a question throughout the economy is going to be job destruction and job creation – how are those two going to weigh against each other. My view is in the long run, the destruction is going to outweigh the creation, and the jobs that are created are going to require more and more elite skill.”

Ultimately, Ford says it may come down to a race between whether human marketers can improve their skills at a faster rate than the machines can.

“Even if new jobs are created, the rate at which jobs are destroyed is going to be very rapid, and it is going to be very, very hard for people to keep up with that,” Ford says. “And a lot of the jobs that are going to be created in the future are not necessarily going to be acceptable to a lot of average people.”

So while AI may not wipe out the role of marketer, it will change the skill set required. “If you want to have a career in marketing, you are going to need to become much more quantitative and analytical and have at least an understanding of concepts like machine learning and AI and how they can be leveraged,” Ford says.

He provides some solace though for creative professionals. “You are in pretty good shape for the next 10 to 20 years,” Ford says. “Beyond that, who knows.

“I think we tend to overestimate how important that human element really is.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Non-linear transformation: The internal struggle

Let’s face it, transformation is messy. Every business is different, with a set of specific challenges based on a mixture of external (the market, competitors, regulation) and internal factors (technology, people and process investments over time).

Neil Kelly

Partner, transformation, Wunderman Thompson

7 ways to champion a human centred design culture

Human Centred Design (HCD) has come a long way in the last decade with many forward-thinking organisations now asking for HCD teams on their projects. It’s increasingly seen as essential to unlocking innovation, driving superior customer experiences and reducing delivery risk.

Shane Burford

Head of research and design, RXP Group

Building a human-curated brand

If the FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) sector and their measured worth are the final argument for the successful 21st Century model, then they are beyond reproach. Fine-tuning masses of algorithms to reduce human touchpoints and deliver wild returns to investors—all with workforces infinitesimally small compared to the giants of the 20th Century—has been proven out.

Will Smith

Co-founder and head of new markets, The Plum Guide

I think some of these ideas are great. These tips will help me to improve my system. Thanks!

Henry Reid

9 Ways to Improve Your Company's CRM System

Read more

It's a useful info for small businesses owners. We can't live without mobile apps. They are so helpful! It's hard to deny that.

Mae Davis

7 ways small businesses can benefit from mobile apps

Read more

Hi Jennifer,Fascinating read about design-led companies!If you would like to learn more, our Design Thinking and Innovation programme mig...

Andrea Foster

How to spot a ‘design-led’ versus ‘design-fed’ company

Read more

ABC web-site not easy to use/navigate. Even getting this far in sign-on to ABC My Space was problematic - it was asking for my password,...

Vee.

How the ABC used an online community to help build a movement

Read more

Thank you for your feedback, Astha! Always appreciated.

Vanessa Skye Mitchell

5 things marketers should know about data privacy in 2020

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in