Dispelling 5 Myths about AI in Marketing

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) in marketing has been rapidly evolving throughout the years, picking up pace seemingly every day. In the late ’90s, the technology was used to cluster consumer behaviors to predict future ones (e.g. “AI thinks you’ll like this book”), then began targeting the labor of content creation over the next decade, followed by creating efficiency in advertising, understanding user intent and listening, learning and responding. 

While many people today think of AI as nothing more than ChatGPT or OpenAI, the technology actually far exceeds this one tool or one company. For example, Sephora offers a great B2C application, using chatbot technology to offer its audience the most personalized, informational customer experience possible. On the B2B side, Stanley Black & Decker found its local channel partners often lacked sufficient skills, resources and time to launch ad campaigns themselves, so they began using an AI-powered ad optimization strategy to scale support to local dealers. 

With these and countless other examples of AI-powered tactics in the field, it’s important for marketers to view AI through a broader lens and separate facts from fiction. To that end, here’s a look at five of the most common myths about the technology. 

Myth #1: A.I. Will Replace Human Marketers

This has been the most widespread misconception about AI for decades, largely because it preys on people’s fear of becoming obsolete and/or having their jobs taken from them. The reality is far from this, with AI actually being extremely complementary to human marketers. 

In fact, one study found the following: “Marketers can use AI technology to identify trends and forecast them for the future. Based on these facts, they can then decide how to allocate their budgets and whom to target. Brands can spend less on digital advertising and more time on high-value work. From the planning stage to the conversion and customer loyalty phases, AI plays a critical role in the success of any marketing campaign.”

Despite headline grabbing layoffs across the tech industry which saw a record breaking cuts this year, AI was only cited as one reason for these cuts. It is difficult to calculate the true number of layoffs related to AI and factoring external and global factors such as war and recession.

More practically, consider the rise and fall of self-checkout which sees many companies rehiring cashiers due to the limitations and challenges self-checkout automation brought including rises inhostile interactions, increases in theft, and you have most likely experienced some of the glitches and unreliability. Have you also experienced an unexpected item in the bagging area error?

When we look ahead, it’s clear that AI is not likely to replace human marketers, but rather free them up to spend their time on more complex or enjoyable aspects of the work – and make more of an impact. 

Myth #2: A.I. in Marketing Lacks Creativity

Since AI is a machine, it makes sense that some people feel it cannot generate creative ideas. However, we must acknowledge that AI and machine learning have taken in almost every idea and concept known to man. It is a reflection of our creativity that fuels its engine. AI is combining human creatives in real-time with data and insights to make more meaningful content.

The magic of marketing happens when the right person in the right place gets the right message at the right time. AI can help bridge and close gaps uniting human intuition with machine intelligence, acting like an assistant to aid creative teams with idea generation, audience insights, technical specifications, content creation, and further evaluation.

Myth #3: A.I. in Marketing is too Complex and Costly 

Although AI has been around for quite some time, it’s still seen as relatively newer technology. This may be because it’s constantly evolving, as well as the fact that it’s only more recently became accessible to individuals and organizations en masse. In any event, AI is no longer just for large companies or tech-savvy users. 

There has been quite a push toward democratization and accessibility of AI tools in the past few years, and there are available options for organizations of every size and budget. An example of democratization of AI tools is Kaggle, which “houses a wide variety of open-source datasets. Users can download and use any dataset to train their model. Google Cloud Platform (GCP) can also be used to train and build an image classifier – without a single line of code.” 

As more individuals and businesses become comfortable with using AI, these technologies will become more and more affordable. This will continue to make them more cost-effective and increase the ROI of using AI in marketing as well. 

Myth #4: A.I. Threatens Customer Privacy

It’s only natural that consumers are wary of technologies and companies that have access to their sensitive information. After all, data breaches and instances of fraud have been rising significantly in recent years. But AI is like any other technology, in which it can – and must – be regulated and used ethically as we have seen with the recent executive order from the White House on AI this week.

When held to proper guidelines, AI will not be a threat to customer privacy. Quite the contrary; AI can enable anonymization of data or secure personalization without accessing sensitive information. So by using the tech, consumers and businesses alike stand to actually have a better handle on data privacy than they do without it. 

Myth #5: A.I. Results in Impersonal Marketing 

Finally, many people feel that using AI means that marketing efforts will be cookie-cutter and impersonal. This is similar to the idea of AI lacking creativity, and once again, doesn’t stand up to reason. In actuality, AI algorithms draw on data and patterns in order to make predictions about customer behavior, preferences and needs and have been in use for years to deliver personalized experiences through marketing automation platforms like Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Iterable, Klaviyo, and Braze. Instead of marketing becoming less personalized, this actually means that it can be even more personalized, custom-tailored to what a business’ audience truly cares about. (Trust me, I’ve been in the meetings seeing the future of some of these marketing automation platforms and customer data platforms or CDP’s)

The takeaway from all of this is that AI can be viewed as a marketer’s ally, rather than adversary. What do you think? What are other myths you’ve heard about AI? What concerns do you have? I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

Mike Helfin
A collaborative & innovative leader in eCommerce & digital marketing with expertise in licensing and consumer packaged goods (CPG). I thrive where the math & magic of marketing meet with over a decade of hands-on experience allowing creative intuition to consistently meet ends with data-driven results.

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