Heidi Lemmetyinen // February 27 2019

5 Things Every Marketer Should Understand About AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the biggest opportunity of our lifetime to expand human creativity in ways we can’t even imagine yet. The adoption of AI is rapidly taking hold across global business. But what does it mean for marketers?

These are the five issues around AI that today’s marketers should at least be aware of.

1. It has completely revolutionized personalization

AI makes it easier to build deeper relationships with customers by providing highly personalized experiences based on people’s behavior. Before AI and Machine Learning (ML), you had to look at large volumes of data from various different sources to understand customer behavior.

Today, AI makes it a lot easier to recognize opinion leaders, assess their behavior and know what type of messaging makes the biggest impact.

Segmentation is old school. It’s about putting people in boxes based on age, location or previous purchase preferences. Personalization through AI gives you deeper insights on your target audience, which enables you to deliver more targeted message for each consumer. You can now send hyper targeted messaging to thousands of different personas.

In this respect, marketers could actually learn a thing or two from politics. In the 2016 US presidential elections, Cambridge Analytica, a political data firm hired by the Trump campaign, gained access to information on 50 million Facebook users and influenced their behavior.

What Cambridge Analytica did was purely unethical, but it was also extremely powerful. Based on the volume of data they had, they were able to do hyper personal content and influence people.

2. It has a privacy problem

When marketers tap into the opportunities of AI, they should also take a long, hard look on the issues around privacy and consent. If you’re sourcing data about people’s preferences, you should not only make sure you have their consent, but also ensure that everyone understands what they’re consenting to.

Facebook had to learn this the hard way during the Cambridge Analytica scandal. It failed to safeguard its users’ information and it also failed to be transparent about how the user data on Facebook was being harvested by others.

3. You have to constantly reject bias

The ethical issues swirling around the use of AI are still not getting all the attention they should.

AI brings a lot of benefits, but there is also a cost. There is a thin line between personalization to provide relevant experiences, and profiling.

AI was created by humans, and humans are also responsible for injecting bias into it. Besides marketing for certain demographics, AI can also be used to exclude them.

A couple of years ago it was revealed that Amazon Prime same day delivery service had been excluded from certain predominantly African American neighborhoods in major US cities. AI had told Amazon that it couldn’t make a profit in these areas. More recently, Amazon’s facial detection AI was accused of racial and gender bias, because it mistakenly identified African American women as men.

Algorithms need to be fed data in order to learn the rules. AI itself is not good or evil, but human prejudices can sometimes seep into its applications through the data it’s being fed.

4. It won’t solve all your problems

For as long as the marketing function has existed, its purpose has been to understand the target audience and provide customers with what they need. AI does not change this, it just provides deeper and more detailed insights into customers.

It’s great to have all this data and provide experiences based on it, but what still matters the most is really good customer experience. You might have the world’s most sophisticated AI tools, but still offer the world’s worst customer experience.  

As marketers, we should most definitely be aware of the benefits of AI and understand how to tap into it in a meaningful way. But we should not lose touch on how to be human and how to truly delight our customers.

5. You don’t know enough about it

The first thing every marketer should recognize is they don’t know enough about AI. One of marketers’ core strengths is connecting people with brands on an emotional level. When AI comes into play, things get a lot more mathematical and data driven. The more you start personalizing based on AI, the more trust you need to have on data and less on your own feelings.

The good news is there are a lot of ways to learn about AI. We are still at a fairly early stage of AI adaptations and if you start learning about it now, you’ll probably gain an edge not only for your current organization, but also in your own career.

You’ll be relieved to hear you don’t need to learn Python to do this! Most AI related things that marketers have to learn can be done easily.

Looking for more AI tools to connect on an emotional level with your customers? Take a look at the Digitalist Insight Services, and don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.


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