Artificial Intelligence

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AI in Marketing

and What It Means for Marketing

Artificial intelligence, or AI for short, might just be the hottest “buzzword” in the world right now. Everyone is talking about artificial intelligence, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, thought leaders in nearly every industry, governments, the number of people and organizations interested in AI is essentially uncountable.

In this article, we’re going to talk both about what artificial intelligence is, and how it relates to your marketing efforts.

What is AI?

AI stands for artificial intelligence, but what does that mean? AI refers to computers that can perform complex tasks that were normally reserved for humans. With AI, a computer can “mimic” human thoughts and carry out human actions.

It might be easiest to think of this with a concrete example. Consider driving a car; for a licensed human, driving a car isn’t particularly difficult, however, consider all the factors at play such as traffic lights, winding roads, hazards, other cars and drivers, the actual level of thought that goes with driving is immense. Many humans barely think about driving, but for a computer, it’s immensely difficult.

All our senses, including our vision and hearing, combine to allow us to easily understand the world around us, but for a computer, doing so is very difficult. Yet advances in both hardware and software are giving rise to AI and Tesla as well as other companies are now testing cars on the road that can drive and even park without human intervention.

This is an example of AI. A previously “human-only” activity that computers can now perform.

How Does AI Relate to Marketing?

If you’re already an active marketer or even an internet user, you likely use artificial intelligence every day but simply don’t realize it.

– Search engines like Google use AI algorithms to create search results.
– Automated marketing tools can be used to set up automated email systems that will contact you based on your activity.
– Online ad platforms will analyze your activity to figure out which ads you might be interested in.
– Customer service departments, among others, are using advanced chatbots to assist customers and handle requests.
– Smartphones and voice-activated devices use AI to process your verbal requests.

How Does AI Actually “Think”?

AI generally refers to the software programs that allow computers to process information. For example, an ad platform AI will analyze your activity to determine which ads are most likely to get clicks. Algorithms are designed to process this information and these algorithms can be immensely complex, accounting for hundreds or thousands, or more factors.

Increasingly, machine learning is being utilized, which allows computers and machines to learn on their own. In other words, the algorithms and software can adapt to changing conditions and data inputs. When responding to an action, AI will use historical data and algorithms to create a “propensity model” and with the propensity model, the AI can start to make predictions. Going back to ads, the AI can predict which ads you’re likely to click on, so as you interact with the ads, machine learning will allow the AI to learn and to become better at predicting.

As far as marketing goes AI is primarily used to cut down on time and costs, while also increasing results. Click To Tweet

Why Do Marketers, Among Others, Use AI?

As far as marketing goes AI is primarily used to cut down on time and costs, while also increasing results. In other words, AI is a big deal when used properly because it can be used to take care of a variety of tedious tasks so that marketers can focus on more high-value tasks. Instead of having to crunch data, for example, a marketer can use data provided by AI to formulate strategies.

Probably every digital marketer has used AI or interacted with AI at some point and in some way. Going back to Google Search results, AI is essential for search engines. For digital marketers, search engines are essential for traffic, so a digital marketer has to know how Google’s AI thinks and what it looks for in order to increase search engine rankings.

Meanwhile, AI can be used by digital marketers who are working with Google Analytics and Google AdWords to discover important insights. In fact, anywhere that data comes into play, there’s a great opportunity for artificial intelligence to discover trends and to analyze data.

Consider targeting audiences. Let’s say you want to micro-target customers with certain attributes, say age and gender, in a small geographical location. Doing this manually can be time-consuming, but AI can both target and monitor your specified audience.

Or maybe you already ran an ad campaign and now you’ve got tons and tons of data. In fact, you’ve got so much data that you’re overwhelmed and now you don’t know who or what to target. Set AI to work and identify the most promising audiences.

For now, digital marketers still have to do much of the heavy lifting. They have to set up the campaigns, fund them, give the green light, and make the larger adjustments, but in the future, AI may be able to take over even more responsibilities.

Let’s go back to Google’s algorithm. SEO specialists spend time trying to crack the algorithm and figure out how it works, but every once in a while, however, Google tweaks their algorithm and often times websites get punished.

For the SEO specialist, this means going back to the drawing board and it’s often a very manual and time-consuming process, but in the future, AI may be able to automatically adjust websites, removing detrimental content, and identify new opportunities. The SEO specialist will still be around but will be able to focus on higher-value areas.

AI Will Empower Humans, Not Replace Them

The last point we want to go over might be the most important one. Forget “Skynet,” the agents from the Matrix, and all of that. AI won’t be so dramatic, and if AI will possibly achieve “full consciousness,” we’re likely decades, if not centuries away from achieving it. Instead, AI is another tool for the digital marketing toolbox.

Artificial Intelligence will help digital marketers by handling a lot of the duller, messier details, which will allow digital marketers to focus on where they truly add value, being creative, crafting strategies that simply rock, and looking at the “big picture.” AI isn’t as good at high-level thinking as humans, however, many humans get bogged down with messy details and can’t focus on the big picture. AI will empower digital marketers to do so.