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Wunderman - Bienalto


Marketing in an Artificial Intelligence era

By Leah Carew

There’s a lot of noise about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its impact on business right now. Have you thought about how it could change the marketing organisation?

Gartner predicts that, by 2018, 20% of business content will be authored by machines, marketing jobs will be replaced by AI, and robo-bosses will be telling marketers what to do. Fuelled by the massive proliferation of data and an across-the-board boost in processing power, AI has grown into a robust technology that is ready for commercial use.   

Given all this, AI is something we need to wrap our minds around – and fast.

AI’s march into marketing

The release of tools like Salesforce Einstein  and Narrative Science is a sign of things to come. Einstein is essentially plug-and-play AI that makes intelligent recommendations without needing to touch an algorithm. Narrative Science generates native text from reports and dashboards like a human-written note.

Kevin Kelly, author and founder of, enlists AI as one of 12 inevitable tech forces in his keynote at SXSW and likens the looming availability of ready-made AI and Machine Learning to the introduction of electricity. Produced externally and made available to business, electricity gave business the power to reinvent itself in the electrical age, without worrying about the logistics of electricity generation. This time, ‘instead of electrify, we’re going to cognify’ (Kevin Kelly, 2016).

If the tricky task of creating neural networks, architecting predictive methodologies and optimising the smarts that sit behind AI is effectively outsourced, then the marketer can focus on the exciting part – reimagining the marketing strategies and programs.

Opportunities, capabilities and use cases of the wild world of AI

For marketers, AI delivers unprecedented smarts. Pair this new knowledge with Marketing Automation, and the latter will become even more powerful. Here’s what we’ll be able to do:

  1. Propensity modelling and predictive logic. What if we could subscribe to our propensity models, have them self optimise over time? What if our predictive and next best action programs were fueled by a machine capable of combining multiple data sets, scenarios and outcomes?

  2. Supercharge data analysis and insights. Rather than spending time reviewing data, searching for insights and writing reports, our focus will be on using these to innovate, optimise and evolve our businesses.

  3. Remove the biases. Our opinions and assumptions around how people want to behave will not lead us to build and plan for behaviours that don’t eventuate. Rather, we’ll build and plan with insights and evidence.

If AI-fueled marketing is the future, how will this impact what we’re doing today?

Data matters. Build accurate and comprehensive Data Management Platforms. Tackle the complications presented by legacy systems, connect available data and audit the missing intelligence. See data as a business asset that its integrity will dictate ability to innovate in the future.

Experiment. AI will get better with use. Ensure strategies and roadmaps are built towards ‘imagine when we can’ and do the critical groundwork for this AI injection. For example, for one of our clients in the insurance industry, the experimentation means capturing rich top-of-funnel data to understand factors affecting progression to purchase. Until we can use AI to enhance the basic decision tree we have in place (i.e using predictive technology and macro data), we will use testing to understand and form hypotheses about where we should optimise and introduce deviations to this flow.

We’re excited, not afraid of AI. Our role as marketers will transform, but not disappear. Even in a landscape of smart, unbiased machine-enhanced marketing, there will remain a need to add human to the science, a moral compass and emotional spectrum to straight logic. A new style of creative, disruptive thinking will be required to look at what AI has supercharged, then reimagine and reinvent to stand out.

Are you as excited about AI as we are? To discuss its possibilities for your business, get in touch today.