We’re living in the midst of a digital marketing revolution. The internet and its associated technologies have changed how we function as people; our social lives, work habits and even our identities are all shaped by our love of sharing selfies with strangers. But, is AI solving more problems than it’s creating?
The massive impact that digital media has had on society is due to us spending so much time online. Whether it’s buying goods, reading articles or watching TV programming, there is no doubt the internet has left the stone age behind and entered an era of unparalleled technological advancement. However, this speed at which we’ve adopted technology has created a new problem: too many companies trying to sell us stuff .
It can be hard for small businesses to gain exposure amidst such a crowded playing field – but one thing they may be able to rely on is digital marketing.
Digital marketing is a catch-all term for the use of digital technology in order to market a product or service. This might sound like an easy task, but it can actually get rather complicated: marketers need to take into account the huge amount of data and options available when crafting their plans and strategies . Yet their hard work has paid off: digital marketing spend accounts for $83 billion annually , so there’s no denying its value. But where does artificial intelligence fit into all this?
AI is defined as ‘the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence’. Put simply, it’s an attempt at making computers think like us – though not always with success! But marketing is a field where AI seems to be making headway.
Many marketers see artificial intelligence as the future – and for good reason . The two fields share many similarities, including:
An ability to learn from data: just like marketers need to sift through their reports and analytics in order to hone their campaigns, computers must ‘read’ huge amounts of information in order to make informed decisions .
Flexibility: as technology changes and new tactics become available, AI can adapt its planning accordingly; conversely, it means existing plans don’t need to be scrapped if one campaign doesn’t work , as providers will simply tweak parameters until they do . While this may seem like an obvious statement, it means you can actually trust a computer with your campaign – something that would be unthinkable with a human!
Emotion: AI is capable of feelings and emotions – even if they’re programmed in rather than innate. This could be a major boost for marketing as people tend to respond better to things that ‘feel right’; according to one study, consumers are more likely to choose an item from a shop shelf if the lighting makes them feel good about their purchase ! In theory, these positive emotions should make customers more likely to buy from you – which is precisely what marketers want.
Of course, there are downsides too. Computers may only be able to learn so much based on existing data; humans can use ingenuity and reasoning to develop solutions that have never been tried before. This makes them more versatile in the long-term. But marketers may not need this broad scope, so it’s perhaps a moot point .
Artificial intelligence is still very much finding its feet in digital marketing – but there are some companies already using it to great effect. One major firm using AI technology is IBM, who teamed up with Ogilvy & Mather to create ‘ Smarter Commerce ‘. Their proposition was that businesses alone were no longer enough; instead, the future of commerce would be ‘ smarter commerce ‘, where online stores could provide personalised recommendations for their customers based on their latest behaviour and preferences .
Another company taking advantage of AI’s data crunching abilities is Maru Group , which works with clients such as Nike, Microsoft and Uber. The company’s CEO, Karen Lacey , explains how they can help these major brands:
‘With 80 percent of business now conducted online and one-third of that traffic attributed to mobile devices, marketers are crying out for a solution that will give them the much needed insight into their digital presence across all devices and channels’.
These organizations clearly already see value in artificial intelligence – but what about your own firm? Is it time you looked into making the switch?