Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the most misunderstood concepts in today’s society. The media’s focus on the fear of automation portrays AI in a negative light when, in reality, its adoption will make millions of lives better every day. Let’s take a moment to break down AI and its applications to the realm of Marketing.
What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
First, let’s forgo our preconceived notions of iRobots and Terminators. Though these examples exhibit some features of AI, they are free-thinking – AI is not. AI, in the applications used today, is a learning algorithm which gathers data to make probability guesses about future outcomes.
Using a ‘chatbot’ example, we can understand how it works. All AI programs start with a learning phase or data collection phase. In the case of the chatbot, the AI program records a given input (by the customer) and a given output (by the operator). After listening, recording, and computing the inputs and outputs of hundreds of conversations, the AI program assigns a probability to each input/output combination. This percentage determines the AI program’s response to a given input – with no magic, sorcery, or freedom of thought.
Given Input = Given Output (with % correlation)
How are you? = I am well; how are you? (with 98% correlation)
What is the phone number for Initech? = The phone number for Initech is (123) 345-6789 (with 98% accuracy)
After learning for days, months, or years, the AI program is allowed to interact with people using the learned inputs, outputs, and correlations. This can relieve the need for chat operations or allow one operation to manage 8-10 conversations, as the AI program is doing the majority of the work.
But how does Artificial Intelligence (AI) apply to Marketing?
AI is already changing the landscape of digital marketing. IBM’s Watson platform allows for content to be dynamically created based on a user’s interaction with a website. United Airlines recently announced that its homepage will change dynamically based on destinations a user has previously shown interest in, creating a custom, tailored experience for every customer.
Adobe’s Sensei platform is learning what humans find visually appealing and is building on-brand creativity with ‘one-click.’ Like the web examples cited above, Adobe tracks user inputs and actions from designers, editors, and motion artists to build templates which morph to fit the needs of any business. No longer do we need a graphic designer for an ad, a producer and editor for a video, or a visual artist for a great opening bumper. Stunning visual components for your next campaign will be “on-demand” whenever they are needed.
Will AI replace my position in Marketing?
Most likely not. AI does not have inherent creativity, freedom of thought, or the ability to observe the greater world beyond a data set. It’s a computer program governed by mathematical parameters. As marketers, our job is to develop new approaches for spreading the word, brainstorming clever campaigns, and developing new markets. AI works in the background, optimizing websites, creative content, and ad sets to deliver the ROI for our ideas. Using AI, marketing teams big and small can accomplish more than ever before.