Far from being science fiction or an abstract prediction of the distant future, artificial intelligence is already here and revolutionizing the marketing world, as eMarketer’s recent report makes clear.
Big data and an exponential growth in computing power have opened the doors for artificial intelligence to take off. With advancements being made in machine learning, neural networks, and deep learning technology, more companies across a growing number of industries are looking to artificial intelligence to make their operations smarter and more efficient.
Increasingly, the world of marketing is embracing these resources in an effort to make sense of data, learn more about customers, and streamline operations. A recent report from eMarketer explored how marketers are utilizing the power of AI in five different areas.
The creation and storage of data is already happening at a tremendous rate, and it’s growing exponentially every day. According to Samsung, a zettabyte of data will be created in 2016: that’s one trillion terabytes. By 2020, the world will have created over 40 zettabytes of data, with 80-90% of it being unstructured.
AI can process both structured and unstructured data with exponentially more speed and accuracy than any human could, making it a key point of interest for companies struggling to organize their consumer data in an intuitive, simple way. Marketers are leveraging the ability of machine learning to make connections between data points in order to gain insights into their customer base. These systems can analyze speech to determine emotion from spoken language, create visual renderings to show social media trends, and crunch data to make predictions.
AI can help marketers make smarter decisions about who they will advertise their products to and when the advertising will take place. By reading and analyzing unstructured data, these systems can define target customers and develop strategies for reaching those customers at the right time. An overwhelming majority of respondents to a survey conducted by RedEye and Econsultancy in May 2016 said they either used or planned to use predictive analytics to better understand their customers.
“A lot is happening in predictive analytics, trying to predict who the best buyers will be, trying to figure out the right times to market to certain people,” as Robbie Allen, the founder and CEO of Automated Insights, told eMarketer. “There’s lots of opportunity to use AI to improve the buying and selling process and how we market to those people. And I think we’re just at the beginning of that.”
Operating hand-in-hand with lead generation, businesses are also using the power of AI to optimize the timing and placement of their ad campaigns. Machine learning has already revolutionized ad purchasing; by 2021, Juniper Research estimates that AI will generate $42 billion in annual ad spending, up from $3.5 billion this year.
Companies are using artificial intelligence systems like Albert™ from Adgorithms to optimize and automate media purchasing. Marketers first establish a set of parameters around KPIs, budget, channels, and target audiences; Albert then takes care of ad placement, media purchasing, and push notifications with no need for human intervention. Most crucially, the system learns from its past decisions and optimizes itself throughout the entire process.
The longest-standing application of AI has historically been in the analysis of audio, speech, and text to create a better customer service experience. Systems are able to analyze the tone of someone’s voice to determine their mood and listen for keywords to let phone operators know when an automated system needs human intervention.
Companies have also developed advanced search and recommendation functions to help customers more easily find products and services that would interest them. By using deep learning systems and neural networks, these systems create individual customer profiles to ensure that the most relevant items are being displayed when each user performs a search for a product.
The Future of AI in Marketing
The applications for artificial intelligence are virtually limitless, but many fear that the adoption of this technology will render some marketing employees obsolete. But Adgorithms CEO Or Shani argues that AI will only eliminate the kind of tedious work that marketers should never have been doing in the first place, empowering them to operate at a higher level and take on bigger responsibilities. “I think [AI tools are] kind of liberating the marketers back to the place where they can drive the marketing with creativity, with ideas, and not just by changing bids and Google AdWords or scheduling email campaigns,” said Shani. “These are not jobs for humans. There’s too much work to be done.”
Shani is not alone in his belief that artificial intelligence will free employees up to accomplish more with their time on the job. 80% of executives surveyed by Narrative Science believe that AI improves worker productivity and efficiency. “AI is additive to the work that humans are doing,” said Communications Director at Microsoft Helen Baric. “Humans have empathy, physicality, creativity and insight; AI delivers the great computational power and the ability to see patterns and reason over large amounts of data quickly.”
For more insights from the eMarketer report, view the webinar – Artificial Intelligence for Marketers: The Future is Already Here.