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Why Now Is the Time for Marketers to Embrace AI

Across industries, forward-looking businesses embrace AI as an opportunity to become more efficient and harness a multitude of data at their disposal. IDC predicted that business spending on AI/ML would grow from $12 billion in 2017 to $57.6 billion by 2021. The businesses that thrive in this new, AI-centric world will be those that make AI/ML a priority sooner, rather than later. That’s why now is the time for marketers to embrace AI.

In a relatively short period, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has gone from the realm of science fiction to an increasingly integral part of everyday life.
While there have been significant advances in AI, the utilization of the technology remains in its infancy. AI and MarTech may be ready to seize the day, but organizations and teams within those organizations are still figuring out how to deploy AI effectively. How to implement AI is particularly true in marketing — where AI has tremendous potential and interest is growing.

According to Adobe’s 8th annual “Digital Trends” report, only 15% of organizations are currently using AI, but 31% plan to in the next year. Platforms are making it more accessible for developers to integrate AI into toolsets and core functionalities, allowing marketers and content authors to use them with ease.

Leading marketing platforms such as Adobe Experience Cloud, Acquia Drupal, and Sitecore, for example, have all started integrating AI into their frameworks.

One of the factors driving AI adoption is accessibility.
Greater accessibility means marketing organizations have no excuse for failing to jump on the opportunities AI has to offer. This technology has the potential to drive dramatic results, making businesses more productive, agile, and resource-efficient. It enables marketers to automate and streamline decision-making while ensuring insight-driven decisions. It’s a game-changer, and companies that are slow to embrace this shift will get left behind.

Of those already using AI, top-performing companies are more than twice as likely as their peers to use AI for marketing (28% vs. 12%). Gartner projects that AI augmentation will generate $2.9 trillion in business value and recover 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity by 2021. In a highly competitive marketplace, those benefits are necessary for every business to thrive. Sprinting to marketing AI will ensure you win the marathon.

AI is that it helps eliminate mundane tasks.
One of the key benefits of AI is that it helps reduce mundane tasks, which allows marketers to focus on more strategic and client-centric parts of the job. By integrating AI into their marketing plans, businesses can transform the way they handle media planning and buying, personalization, and customer experience and support. If you want the bandwidth to be more strategic, embrace AI now.

Media planning and buying.
The days of Mad Men-style advertising, where deals happen in smoke-filled conference rooms and over steakhouse lunches, have been long gone for decades. But up until relatively recently, media planning and buying remained a manual activity.

Marketers would develop media plans, maybe using media mixed modeling to determine the most effective mix of channels and tactics. It’s an arduous process that required crunching numbers and whiling away time on mundane tasks.

Adobe Ad Cloud analyzes media placements and automatically shifts budget to best placements.
The emergence of programmatic advertising moved the industry away from “RFPs, human negotiations, and manual insertion orders.” AI is the next step in that evolution. AI, through solutions like Adobe Ad Cloud, analyzes media placements and automatically shifts the budget into the best performing placements.

It also makes suggestions on what to bid on and how to adjust certain bids. The “how-to” knowledge frees up the person doing the buying to focus on higher-level strategy.

Google also offers smart-bid.
Google also offers smart-bidding functionalities, where data and machine learning decide when to bid based on specific keywords or not to bid. Smart bidding makes it possible to look at additional data signals from a person searching and choose whether or not to bid based on the user and how likely they are to convert.

There’s no way people can make decisions on an impression-level basis, but machines can. Not only is AI making marketing more efficient, but it’s also making things possible that weren’t before. The businesses that stand out will be those that are quick to embrace these possibilities.

Will AI eliminate jobs? Doubtful.
While concerns that AI will eliminate jobs are justified in some cases, marketers won’t become redundant in the media planning and buying process. They will go from being the machine to become the caretaker and manager. The change to managing a system and people will ultimately lead to more fulfilling work life, as marketers can funnel their energy towards creativity and problem-solving.

Personalization.
AI is ushering in the era of highly personalized customer experiences. Marketers used to target broad demographics with their campaigns: male-female, 18-35, urban-rural. With AI, that approach seems increasingly archaic. The next generation of advertising will involve intensely personalized experiences, made possible by the vast amounts of customer data out there. The businesses that are stuck relying on broad demographics will become irrelevant when put up against segments of one.

AI enables personalization by helping make data manageable and actionable.
Take content tagging, for example. Adobe uses Sensei for automated content tagging and organization. When uploading imagery or assets to a digital asset management tool, AI can identify what is in the image — a beach, cityscape, a dog — and tag it accordingly within a content management system.

This significantly reduces the work required for marketers to create, organize, and tag content. AI is also to understand the meaning behind the content, such as sentiment and context, to make content more searchable and more comfortable to find. Marketers can save so much time and energy, and accomplish far more important things, by letting AI handle tasks like these.

AI makes segmentation and targeting more sophisticated and efficient.
The technology aggregates a lot more data a lot faster than humans and uses that to create detailed user profiles, as well as more nuanced customer segments. The personalization equips marketers to make educated decisions about the types of segments and users to target. Marketers can also use AI to dynamically create imagery and messaging based on an individual user’s profile in real-time. Knowing the client and customer creates a better experience for the end-user, who receives marketing based on their particular interests and preferences.

AI also enables predictive content, allowing companies to anticipate their customers’ needs. Companies that can deliver personalization and prediction are playing in a different league than those that aren’t.

Taking steps towards personalized marketing campaigns will be particularly important moving forward, as younger generations consistently report they are willing to give up personal data in exchange for personalized experiences. At the same time, consumers of all ages are concerned about privacy, so marketers need to be smart about how they approach personalization and think carefully (with the time they aren’t spending on content tagging) about how to maintain customer trust.

Customer support/experience.
Another preference for younger generations is self-service. A report on the State of Global Customer Service from Microsoft found that Millennials and Gen-Z consumers have two top priorities: responsiveness and self-service. Integrating AI into marketing plans with chatbots can have a dramatic impact on enabling both.

Allowing users to navigate websites and answer questions on their own, and instantly receive support when they need it, is critical to delivering an excellent customer experience today. Historically, a customer had to reach out via email or call into a call center to get information.

Instead of a multi-step process, AI guides customers towards the content they need and provide targeted, personal responses to their queries. Personalized answers are efficient for the companies who don’t have to hire an army of customer support representatives, and for the customer. AI has evolved to the point where it can understand nuance, sentiment, and context in language, which has turned chatbots into a must-have feature.

Looking forward to AI adoption.
Adoption of AI is still in its early days, and most marketing teams have not fully integrated AI within their organization.
The adoption parody is partly because AI will change the way teams approach their work — the workflows, the rules, and the responsibilities of everyone on the team. People will have to adjust and figure out what their job is. The impact will be felt in other ways as well, from figuring out how to maintain a cohesive brand where every customer can receive a personalized experience, to determining how to report on the best performing creative, if the creative is continuously changing.

Another challenge is establishing where to start your business with AI.
If you have limitless ability to decide and personalize, where do you begin? That question can be overwhelming, especially for an organization that doesn’t yet understand how to utilize AI best and has not yet reached digital maturity.

Within the next five years, as AI becomes more mainstream, organizations have to do what it takes to integrate AI to stay relevant and competitive. AI-centric marketers will be able to spend more time creating the vision, roadmap, and strategy and less dealing with the trivial day-to-day tasks that AI has automated.

AI is the future, so the time is now to think about how it can elevate your marketing plans to the next level.

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