The impact of artificial intelligence on marketing
One thing is for sure: AI marketing is not going anywhere soon. Recent research suggests 80% of marketing leaders believe AI will impact marketing in the next three years, writes DEBBIE PEARSON.
Today, common definitions of artificial intelligence (AI) focus on automation. We know machine learning provides computers with the ability to learn. But what opportunities does this create for businesses and marketers, and how does this impact marketing in the 21st century?
According to Forrester, global marketing automation spend will reach $25 billion by 2023.
The number of companies providing services in this space is growing with Chiefmartech suggesting an increase of over 5000% during the last decade. Currently, the market is fragmented and there is a lack of specialist marketing technology skills, both client and agency side. However, skills development and a broader understanding of AI will further increase the pace of progress in marketing over the next couple of years.
Research from Microsoft and Accenture suggests 80% of marketing leaders believe AI will impact marketing in the next three years, with 84% of 80% expecting that AI will help enable better workflow. It is not just about the automation of business process though. Marketers need to focus on using AI and machine learning to create greater personalisation and value at customer touchpoints, thus improving human decision-making and customer interactions. This potentially leads to greater competitive advantage.
Professor Wided Batat suggests by gaining access to how customers feel at emotional touchpoints on the customer journey, marketers can interact with actual and potential customers to involve them in co-creation of products and services. Acting on positive and negative feedback, marketers can help improve quality and inform the design on customer experience and experiential marketing activities.
Device types, interfaces and intelligent agents are increasingly part of customer and consumer decision-making processes. AI can help considerations, options and guide choices. Market choices now need to be viewed as a co-function of marketing technology and customer/consumer preferences, such as using touch to shape product preferences.
The Pantene case study
But, how does this work in reality? As part of its CSR programme in Israel, Proctor and Gamble’s Pantene brand’s mission is to provide every woman facing hair loss due to cancer treatment with a free, high quality, real hair wig. Traditionally, the company relied on hair donations, but relying on the same supporters year on year led to donor fatigue.
A campaign was created to develop the pool of hair donors. The minimum length of hair for a donor is 20 centimetres. Using AI, an Instagram crawler was developed to identify what long hair looks like on the platform. This resulted in the identification of a unique audience of 100 000 women in Israel with hair 20 centimetres long or longer.
In addition, AI was used in smart mirrors in shops to identify possible donors and would tell any potential donor of her eligibility. Celebrity endorsement on YouTube and Playbuzz, the interactive quiz platform, were also part of the campaign. Overall, in a two-month period, the campaign messages reached 1.5 million women, resulting in the identification 750 000 potential donors. The year-on-year increase in hair donations was 15%, meaning 14 000 wigs could be produced. A great example of the social role of marketing and AI combined.
Communications provider, COLT, created a machine learning tool called CAST to improve its Net Promoter Score (NPS). The tool understands verbatim text, identifies areas for improving customer experience and solves the issues. As a result, NPS increased 40%. Bain Consulting report that COLT’s NPS is twice that of its nearest competitor.
There are, of course, other practical considerations to bear in mind when investing in AI for marketing. A significant factor is organisational culture. The leadership style, the attitude to risk and the firm’s agility and ability to change all need to be taken into account. The key to success and survival is the readiness of the company to accept and embrace AI, as well as the adaptability of the firm to accept it.
Benefits and pitfalls still unfolding
Furthermore, trust and safety are critical when using AI in marketing. AI solutions need to be robust and secure. The benefits and pitfalls of AI in marketing are still unfolding. It is important to deliver technological, cultural and economic changes in a responsible manner and in a collaborative way.
Siemens suggest responsible use of AI could help shape sustainable development, foster inclusiveness, guarantee data privacy, promote accountability and liability and share benefits through co-creation of value for all stakeholders.
The University of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute believes all jobs will be automated in the next 120 years. At the moment, AI and machines need the help of marketers to make sense of the data, to apply expertise and to be creative – however in a 2018 keynote address at The World Economic Forum, given by Professor Yuval Noah Harari, he asked, ‘Will the future be human?’ He presents a future world of ‘digital dictatorships’, whereby those who control the data, control the world. This may not necessarily be governments.
Marketers need to embrace the data and technologies, incorporate them into job specifications and develop new skills. The growth of big data and the application of AI will continue to bring disruption across industries. One thing is for sure; AI in marketing is not going away any time soon.
Marketers need to focus on using AI and machine learning to create greater personalisation and value at customer touchpoints
It is important to deliver technological, cultural and economic changes in a responsible manner and in a collaborative way.
Debbie Pearson – MBA, MSc, PGCE (PCET), FHEA, FISM, and Chartered Marketer – has a commercial background primarily in telecommunications. She has worked in various sales and marketing roles for corporate organisations. Her work has taken her to diverse markets, ranging from China and the USA to the African continent, as well as all over Europe. While undertaking her MBA studies, Pearson was approached to teach CIM professional qualifications. This led to her qualifying as teacher of adults, which she continues to do at universities and for professional institutes. Pearson runs a consultancy business, working with clients to improve performance in marketing and sales. She acts as a mentor for alumni wishing to progress professional marketing careers. She also works pro bono for charitable organisations.
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