How can AI transform marketing and advertising?

Marketers and advertisers are using various AI-based tools to optimise campaigns and more effectively reach their target audiences.
Industries: Marketing
  • How does AI in marketing and advertising work?
  • Personalisation – an essential part of marketing 
  • How AI can increase marketing efficiency
  • AiAdvertising’s AI-driven Campaign Performance Platform
  • Buick’s AI-driven marketing campaign
  • EasyJet – using data science and machine learning to improve the customer experience
  • Will AI replace human marketers and advertisers?

Artificial Intelligence (or AI) is being used increasingly in many critical business operations in all sectors. While you may think of AI being most effective at technical work, such as manufacturing or computing, it is also becoming proficient at understanding subjective human drives and desires. You can see this in the algorithms on sites and apps like TikTok, YouTube, and Spotify, which analyse your activity in order to create personalised recommendations tailored to your personality. It is no wonder, then, that AI is being used more and more for marketing and advertising purposes. AI-based tools can help generate ideas for ads in all media formats, find the right audience to target with ads and marketing campaigns, and generate specific campaigns for each individual based on their data. Using AI, marketers can create a custom campaign based on a person’s online activity, occupation, exact location, likes and dislikes, time of day, and a range of other data – many times more quickly than they could by doing this manually. The possibilities are almost endless – imagine travelling in a car and seeing an ad for a store you would love, but didn’t know existed, and it’s just a block away.

How does AI in marketing and advertising work?

The uses of AI in many business processes are well-known, and an Accenture study found that organisations can increase their productivity by 40 per cent using AI. Delegating tasks (often administrative tasks) to AI can also enable workers to spend more time on customer service. The technologies involved in AI are quickly developing and advancing, meaning that things are now possible that, only a few years ago, were not. Technology has also been similarly changing in marketing applications, allowing for more possibilities than ever before. The integration of AI into marketing tools, methods, and solutions can optimise campaigns highly effectively. AI can carry out specialised tasks, reduce errors, and speed up the generation of targeted marketing campaigns. Another key aspect of marketing is lead generation, or obtaining the interest of potential customers in your organisation, product, or service. AI can use data to generate promising leads much faster than a human worker could find them manually. 

Personalisation – an essential part of marketing 

Over three-quarters of customers expect brands to have a detailed understanding of their expectations and needs. Thankfully, in the era of Big Data, detailed information on these can be found and used to optimise communications and service. With AI, marketers can process and analyse vast amounts of customer data very quickly. Data analytics and insights have become the cornerstones of successful marketing campaigns, and AI can use advanced machine learning (or ML) algorithms to ‘understand’ this data accurately and tailor marketing and advertising efforts to it. This means that customer engagement with campaigns and content is more likely to be high, and this result can be achieved with significantly lower costs and less time than with traditional, solely human-designed marketing. Marketing does not stop once a customer has purchased a product either – to build brand loyalty in a customer, personalised marketing should continue long after the first purchase. An example of how AI can be used to do this is with the digital fitness coach VI Trainer, which creates customised training programmes for users based on their abilities, goals, and past progress reports. The programmes themselves are created by the app’s AI algorithm, and have been successful in increasing customer engagement and boosting conversion rates.

When ads are more relevant to customers, conversions tend to increase – the goal of any marketing department. AI can analyse seemingly unstructured customer data and use it to reveal pain points (frustrations or issues customers have that can be solved by a product or service) so that they can be targeted with personalised, relevant ads. Data such as location and previous buying behaviour can also be used to personalise ads – for example, a restaurant could use an AI-based marketing tool to target ads only at people within a certain radius of the store, who have also eaten at similar restaurants before. One restaurant even saw an 800 per cent increase on ROI from using this strategy. Not all of these AI-based tools are expensive or revolutionary – even Facebook’s  built-in advertising features offer many of these capabilities. 

How AI can increase marketing efficiency

Many traditional marketing activities, such as market research, data collection and processing, lead generation, content creation, and the various administrative tasks that are required to carry these out, are significantly time-consuming. AI can carry out these processes much more quickly than humans can, and often even in real-time. With machine learning involved, marketing decisions can become steadily more effective over time. AI is also becoming increasingly proficient at writing text for ads, social media posts, emails, and articles. Advanced AI chatbots can even respond to customer interactions in real-time, often in ways indistinguishable from a human. Significant advances in AI content creation can be seen in just the last couple of years, and this trend is unlikely to reverse.

AiAdvertising’s AI-driven Campaign Performance Platform

US-based advertising technology firm AIAdvertising, Inc. has developed a new Campaign Performance Platform (or CPP) that uses AI and ML to optimise advertising processes. The platform is a “cloud-hosted ad management solution that leverages AI and connects marketing investments to sales revenue.” It also increases ROI on digital ads. In the words of the company’s CEO Jerry Hug, “our Campaign Performance Platform connects marketing analytics to sales transactions and helps marketers and CMOs succeed by giving them the necessary tools to prove marketing’s return on investment.” Marketing departments often feel pressured to prove their usefulness for organisations, and AI-driven tools such as this can help them do this with raw data.

Buick’s AI-driven marketing campaign

US automaker Buick has incorporated AI heavily into its advertising content creation. An ad campaign called “Dream with Us” – produced in conjunction with the female-led Hello Sunshine media company – showed a vision of the future complete with self-driving, self-parking cars that can connect to smart homes and instruct smart devices to carry out household chores such as feeding pets. In addition to the ad depicting the uses of AI in Buick’s products, the ad’s concept was also developed using AI-based market research. Although the ad is impressive, concerns have been raised about the appropriateness of aiming an ad at women based on stereotypes of their gender – the women in the ad are seemingly passive and concerned largely with household chores and aesthetics. Examples of AI in advertising such as this reveal two important things – firstly, that AI can be used to effectively target key demographics, and secondly, that AI is not immune from replicating human biases and prejudices. AI-based solutions must first be programmed with data by humans, and they can only be as accurate and unbiased as this initial data is.

EasyJet – using data science and machine learning to improve the customer experience

AI is being used extensively in the aviation industry to enhance the customer experience. A prime example of this is the UK-based company easyJet, which uses data science and machine learning for many of its processes. To increase efficiency and avoid wasted resources, planes must be stocked efficiently – the firm uses algorithms based on consumer behaviour data and conditions such as the weather to optimise stocking processes. An AI-based recognition system is also used to scan passports and other documents to obtain information and process documents more quickly, meaning that customers do not need to repeatedly fill out documents manually. When permission is granted, customer data is analysed and used for future marketing strategies. Combined with analysis of customer feedback, this enables easyJet to improve the customer experience and enhance their marketing capabilities at the same time. The results of this have been impressive – in the first half of 2018, three-quarters of seats were filled by returning customers.

AI can be seen as a tool in a marketer’s toolbox, like the paintbrush used by an artist. If AI-based tools are implemented correctly, the relationship between these tools and the marketers using them can be a harmonious and highly efficient one.

Will AI replace human marketers and advertisers?

The use of AI in marketing and advertising, as in most fields, raises a thorny question – will human workers be replaced? The rise of AI and automation is, understandably, a common cause for concern when it comes to employment opportunities. The steadily-increasing capabilities of AI-based technologies could pose an existential threat to many industries, and the livelihoods of those involved in them. However, these technologies are still far from capable enough to entirely replace marketing and advertising departments. While they have many advantages over humans, particularly in speed and accuracy, humans still have the upper hand when it comes to creativity, communication, and relating to people on a personal level. This means that the most effective approaches will combine the strengths of AI with those of humans. For example, marketers and advertisers can use algorithms to acquire promising leads, increase engagement, and streamline administrative tasks, leaving them with more time to focus on the areas that humans do best – communication, customer service, and creative ideation. AI can be seen as a tool in a marketer’s toolbox – like the paintbrush used by an artist. If AI-based tools are implemented correctly, the relationship between these tools and the marketers using them can be a harmonious and highly efficient one.

Industries: Marketing
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