“Algorithms are everywhere in marketing,” said Melissa Drozdowski, director of social media at marketing and brand-builder company, Interprose. “Artificial intelligence and marketing are not only a good fit, you’re likely already intersecting with AI in marketing daily, but may not realize it.”
Talking with social media manager, blogger and author, Carol Stephen, Drozdowski explained that AI in the form of algorithms appear everywhere in marketing, public relations, social media, advertising and copywriting.
“Look at Facebook,” she said. “You can dictate some preferences, but its algorithm controls your newsfeed. AI is key.
“Facebook’s algorithms are perpetually tweaking what appears in the newsfeed based on observed user behaviors,” Drozdowski said. “That’s just one tiny aspect of the vast machinery that operates behind the scenes. AI and machine learning are integral to Facebook’s operating strategy.”
This might not be news to veteran marketers.
“Social media kinda crept up on a lot of people,” Drozdowski said. “AI may not be as stealthy, given the hype cycle around the technology.”
Resistance is futile as AI assumes an ever-prominent role.
“AI in marketing is the next big thing,” Drozdowski said. “One study showed 44.5 percent of brands saw increased sales with AI. Plus, 93.5 percent saw positive return on investment from AI systems, and 90 percent of enterprises plan to increase AI’s use in the future. It’s pervasive.”
Hello, high tech, my old friend
That places greater emphasis on getting acquainted with new technology.
“You’ve got to be smarter than the system you’re using, or at least comfortable with it,” Drozdowski said. “It’s tough to keep up these days, but how else do you stay competitive in the shifting landscape? It’s a necessity.”
Marketers should not only care about but embrace AI.
“Data is fundamental to marketing,” Drozdowski said. “Without data to analyze and interpret, how do we know what’s working? Data is the lifeblood of AI and machine learning. Harnessing AI and ML can help marketers make better informed, more cost-efficient decisions.
“Work smarter, not harder and with fewer resources,” she said. “That’s the reality for many marketers today.”
That leads to enthusiastic marketers looking for the Holy Grail of return on investment.
“ROI is always a concern, especially when times are tough,” Drozdowski said.
“AI is already impacting most—if not all—aspects of marketing, “ she said. “It’s fast becoming an important tool in the savvy marketer’s toolbox. For example, the Interactive Advertising Bureau found that AI analysis of customer behavior can be used to fine tune engagement efforts on a granular level.”
Applying artificial intelligence to day-to-day marketing operations has few limits.
“Almost every aspect of marketing is fair game,” Drozdowski said, giving a short list where it’s already at work:
- Marketing automation tools
- Social listening
- Search engine optimization
- Smart editing tools
- Ad buying
AI in the headlines
“The list of applications is endless,” she said, zeroing in on copywriting.
“Ever used a headline analyzer to check the quality of your headlines?” Drozdowski said. “You’re tapping into AI. Using deep datasets and pattern matching, they can help with attention-grabbing headlines, copy readability and grammatical errors.”
Headline analysis has added complexity when users have a choice of apps.
“Although we love the analyzers as a way of checking if we’re on the right track, the jury is still out on which one is the best,” Drozdowski said. “Neal Schaffer had a great article that included one version that was new to us. We’re going to check it out.”
With artificial intelligence on the rise, worried copywriters might start to look back over their shoulders.
“It’s something to keep an eye on,” Drozdowski said. “In a series of tests, an AI copywriter outperformed human counterparts. The company running the test signed a five-year deal for AI-written copy across multiple platforms.
“Now, we’ve got OpenAI’s GPT-3 AI system that has terabytes upon terabytes of data to learn from to generate written copy of all types,” she said. “In fact, it’s about to go head to head with human writers to see who comes out on top.”
This is not to say robots will impose unconditional surrender on people.
“It’s unlikely humans will lose to machines,” Drozdowski said. “Understanding the human condition—our empathy, quirks, the very qualities that make us human—is something that AI hasn’t perfected. Will it ever? Maybe in time. A human touch is still needed.
“AI often has a steep learning curve, requires significant investment and is ever-evolving,” she said. “Adding it to your marketing mix means signing up for continued resource investment over time, including training, computational power, high-quality data and security.”
Matters of privacy and trust
Besides security, there are other issues to consider when implementing artificial intelligence in marketing.
“Transparency, ethics and data privacy are big concerns these days when it comes to marketing and social media,” Drozdowski said. “In a survey of 2,200 U.S. adults, 73 percent said protecting their personal data is a very important factor when it comes to trusting a company.
“Another study found 81 percent of consumers said they must trust a brand before buying from them,” she said. “AI can provide brands and organizations with great benefits, but not if the technology is misused, even inadvertently.”
This brings the onus back on social media platforms.
“No company wants to be caught filching personal data to sell to others without consent—lookin’ at you, Facebook—or perceived as inauthentic because they didn’t take ethical or security considerations of an algorithm into account,” Drozdowski said.
“Being as transparent as you can about what you do, how you do it and why you’re doing it will help mitigate many of these challenges,” she said.
The future of artificial intelligence in marketing looks a lot like the present.
“AI is already entrenching itself in our industry,” Drozdowski said. “From greater personalization in email campaigns to virtual assistants to interface with current or potential customers, the intersection of AI and these communications disciplines is only going to deepen.
“AI will become increasingly pervasive across the marketing communications landscape,” she said. “It’s up to us as marketing, public relations, social media and advertising pros to use it to work more intelligently, but to do so in a way that generates ROI while maintaining integrity.”