AI and machine learning bring us just a step closer to obtaining relevance at scale. But what happens when we scale a moment? Does it apply to the others or is it lost in trying to fit one into many? For the marketing and advertising industry, marketing AI could get us closer to one of the most sought goals of marketing and advertising agency: relevance.
From Think with Google, technology has always enabled opportunities to tell a new story in marketing and advertising. The same way the web opened the door to new ways to connect with users and find moments in their journey, AI may be able to change the way we interact with everything—from the information we consume to the brands we connect with.

Marketing AI in a Nutshell

Artificial intelligence is essentially the making of something non-human more intelligent. While marketing AI is currently a hot topic in tech, it primarily comes down to deep, machine-based learning that employs algorithms to generate insights via patterns that are provided back in the form of data. The knowledge part is where it gets tricky: can machines think, act, and work as humans?
Marketing and advertising agencies are on the fence. They’re either heading towards or running away from AI. While some in the industry believe AI holds the key to relevance-driven intelligence, others think it’s taking us farther from a connection, with ourselves and with technology. Those in the last group tend to be smaller marketing and advertising agencies who’s careful watch and management of their client’s data is the secret in the sauce they’re not giving up.

The Secret Sauce

Artificial intelligence is all about algorithms. Marketing and advertising pros understand this, but the end-user is less aware of the impact those algorithms have based on their data. We see by the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica scandal that the collection of personally identifiable information of 87 million users is an issue users may want to avoid.
By our psychological nature, we as humans tend to avoid that which we don’t understand. And users don’t truly understand how something they’re interested in begins appearing at every digital intersection, or more, how it uncannily resembles what they’re searching for. So the data backfires. While we wanted it yesterday, maybe we don’t want it today, or today we want a combination of that thing plus another. Will algorithms understand the complexity of the thought process behind this?
As a marketing and advertising agency, we use AI as a tool to increase the efficiency of human-based tasks. This tool can provide exciting and often instrumental insights into consumer behavior and trends and even predictive analysis to help us do our jobs better. But using this tool requires a human to interpret, and carefully apply, it.
It’s easy to see big data fail when used at scale. As Google Partners, we recently received Google invites in Filipino. A human noticeably caught the error and sent the invite in English hours later. Another example is in the Google Ads platform. We’ll receive recommendations for Google Ads campaigns that are either inactive or inaccurate. We chalk it up to the algorithms; they’re learning.

Marketing AI and Coca-Cola and Disney

Marketing and advertising agencies are adopting AI. In fact, a recent Salesforce report stated 50% and 75% in a predictive capacity. Some AI-driven marketing and advertising tasks include testing new campaigns and content to engage audiences, testing the buyer journey with timely and customized information, automating lead generation, and more. Along with these tasks, experts believe AI-driven CRM efficiencies will increase revenues by $1.1 trillion globally. Ultimately, this could lead to over 800,000 new jobs—more than those projected lost by automation. So, AI-related efficiencies will be a net plus, but hopefully, the cost isn’t too high.

AI Creates Experiences, Or Does It?

Today’s customers have higher expectations and are creating more opportunities to fill them. This means marketing and advertising agencies need to meet customer needs faster, and nearly instantly. Nearly instantly means both a challenge and opportunity for brands. It also means that marketing and advertising agencies will have to deal with filling those needs with relevance.
One way marketers can do this is with digital advertising and by utilizing Google’s more AI-based tools. This year Google is employing more machine learning into digital offerings to help brands and their marketing and advertising counterparts run more effective campaigns. But here’s the key: digital advertising + AI + customization + oversight.
Done correctly, this means brands and agencies can tailor campaigns to intent-based micro-moments. I know this is a mouthful; but what it means is that moment where we, as a consumer, want, or need something online.

Marketing AI: Connecting Campaigns to Interactions

Marketing AI is providing the tools to connect campaigns to interactions. How far we take those campaigns using that data is what we have to explore. And again, humans are not necessarily simple. Therefore, the data will need to take into account other things that informed, or will inform, that moment to occur. This includes things like psychographics, background, likes and interests, and context.
Ages-old Coca-Cola, founded in 1892, is currently using AI to discover—and reinvent—how customers engage with their brand through their phones. The younger, Walt Disney Co, started in 1923, is now using language processing data to trigger an event or to improve viewer experience.
Disney’s work with AI, however, is not new. Ten years ago, Disney collaborated with Carnegie Mellon and the Swiss Federal Institute of Tech Zurich to build research labs to study character-human interaction. Disney wanted to be able to respond to an action, such as something someone is doing. Today, Disney Research operates three sites focusing on machine learning and analytics, visual computing, robotics, and human-computer interaction.
There you have it, a spin through marketing AI. Did it make your head spin? As we’re only scratching the surface, where do we go from here? Well, us in the marketing and advertising world work to create love between brands and those who enjoy them. If marketing AI can improve efficiency, streamline costs, and help deliver more relevant digital that enhances engagement, great, so long as humans are approving and adjusting before that digital goes out the door—and learning from it as it’s learned from us.