While we are waiting for Artificial Intelligence to provide driverless vehicles, the technology has already found its way in many marketing functions. At Lenovo, we believe that AI currently is more about Augmented Intelligence than Artificial Intelligence. That’s what is happening in the marketing space as well. AI is augmenting traditional marketing such as content marketing, communications, market research and analytics. Augmented Intelligence gives us the ability to navigate through massive quantities of data, identifying patterns, recognising trends, and anticipating the next-best action for marketers to take.

Let’s look at what we can do now with marketing which was hard to imagine a decade ago:

  • Identifying quality leads and understand intent vs interest.
  • Multi-Touch Attribution – Being able to understand which of the 20 touches a particular prospect had with a specific campaign gives marketers some fantastic benefits.
  • Account-Based Marketing – ABM puts a laser focus on creating custom experiences for a marketer’s key accounts and enables the tracking of assets and messaging.

Even five years ago, it would have been incredibly tedious to pull off these functions.

Artificial Intelligence in Marketing
Artificial Intelligence will enable marketers to achieve the three new Ps of marketing – Prescriptive, Personalised, and Predictive.

Companies still try to maintain a consistent brand image, but the annual marketing strategy is increasingly a relic of the past. Instead of making a few significant decisions each year, companies or their agencies make thousands of real-time decisions. These include which ads to run on which sites, which search terms to buy, which version of a website to adopt, so on and so forth. Even the choice of what service providers and marketing software vendors to work with is sophisticated enough to deserve a decision-making algorithm.

Already there are just too many decisions involving too many complex variables and too much data for humans to make all of them. Marketing activities and decisions are increasing far more rapidly than marketing budgets or the numbers and capabilities of human marketers. An increasing number of marketing decisions employ some form of AI, and this trend will only increase.

Current AI Applications in Marketing (Personalised Experiences)
Artificial Intelligence is showing us the path to the holy grail of marketing – creating one-to-one targeted messaging and reaching the right audience, through the right channel, at the right time. AI is already enabling digital marketers to experiment with personalisation, recommendations, dynamic content selection, and dynamic display based on unique user profiles and optimising content for as many target groups as you’d like.

Godiva.com uses Reflektion’s AI technology to interpret each click, site search and page view to present the most relevant products to each website visitor right away. This mimics their skilled salespeople that present options based on what a customer is looking at in the store. This luxury shopping experience has resonated with shoppers: Godiva.com conversion rates have jumped nearly 25 percent. Similarly, ad agency Saatchi LA used IBM Watson AI supercomputer to create thousands of variations for the same Toyota car ad. Using AI, Saatchi LA was able to target thousands of different demographic groups with different ads.

Current AI Applications in Marketing (Content Marketing)
The robot journalists are coming. Since early 2015, the Associated Press has been relying on algorithms to generate more than 3,000 new articles every quarter. However, it is currently limited to mostly stories based on data such as weather, stock and sports.

Current AI Applications in Marketing (Forecasting)
We now depend on marketing automation tools to provide a score to a potential lead and qualify them as hot prospects. However, many marketers are using AI to help them with predictive scoring, forecasting, and recommendations.

AI Marketing software operates as a “marketing brain” and automatically arms your team with new and fresh insights, empowers them to only work with channels that genuinely matter and deliver real results, and frees them up to focus on higher-value problem-solving. For instance, Salesforce Einstein is a set of best-in-class platform services that bring advanced AI capabilities into the core of its CRM platform. Powered by advanced machine learning, deep learning, predictive analytics, natural language processing and smart data discovery, Einstein’s models will be automatically customised for every single customer. It will learn, self-tune, and get smarter with every interaction and an additional piece of data.

Current AI Applications in Marketing (Improving Creativity)
Without a doubt, one of the most exciting sections of the marketing department is the creative team, and AI has made significant inroads in this domain as well by accelerating repetitive and time-consuming processes so that the creative team can focus on being more creative.

For example, Adobe’s Sensei uses a combination of artificial intelligence and deep learning to train itself to deeply understand the language of digital content such as images, videos, animations, and illustrations. It can sift through millions of assets in stock photos and provide results which understand concepts like the aesthetic quality, composition, colour palette, and even the emotion behind the image.

Potential AI Applications in Marketing (Preventing Fraud)
A few sketchy publishers buy bot traffic to not only increase page views and unique visitors but also to mimic human behaviour by clicking on several pages before clicking on an ad. They may also use iFrame stuffing to shrink ads so that it is invisible to human eyes or stack up one ad on top of another. In fact, when Forrester surveyed 250 marketers whose companies spend at least $1 million a month on digital advertising it discovered that 69 percent of the marketers said that at least 20 percent of their budgets was being eaten up by fraud on the mobile web. In other words, 20 percent of their budgets was being wasted on fake traffic.

A recent report from the digital market research firm Juniper, predicted that advertisers would lose an estimated $19 billion to fraudulent activities in 2018. The Juniper report, Future Digital Advertising — AI, Ad Fraud & Ad Blocking, 2017-2022, said that that $19 billion worked out to $51 million per day and could be expected to rise, reaching $44 billion by 2022. While there are attempts to minimise this loss, fraud continues to plague digital marketing. However, it is only a matter of time when AI developed applications will step-in to combat this nuisance.

AI Agents – A Marketer’s Business Assistant
Using AI for a specific marketing purpose is no different from hiring someone for a particular role. What are the qualities that I look for when to fill a particular position?

  • Intelligence
  • Intensity
  • Intent

We know that AI is intelligent and capable. The human factor comes into play when we look at the intent. AI-based marketing activities have yet to displace large numbers of human marketers, in part because AI supports individual tasks, rather than entire jobs. But they are likely to have a substantial impact on marketing roles in the future.

At a minimum, most marketers will need to understand how these systems work, to identify whether they are doing a good job, and to determine how they can add value to the work of smart machines. Leaders of marketing organisations will need to strategize effectively about the division of labour between humans and machines. They’ll have to redesign marketing processes to take advantage of the speed and precision that AI-based decision making offers.