80 years ago, Alan Turing came up with the concept of the computer. Only 20 years later Artificial Intelligence (AI) had become an official field of study. Along the way, we went from having to teach machines what they needed to know to self-learning machines. For fun, we had them beat the chess world champion and popular game show (Jeopardy).
With self-learning capabilities, Virtual Private Assistants became a possibility and soon, a reality. Siri and Google Now have quickly become part of our daily lives, just as self driving cars will do shortly.
We’re just getting started though, and things will keep on evolving faster and faster. Artificial Intelligence will have implications on all facets of live, including marketing. That’s not an assumption, it’s already a fact. Automatic optimisation of (digital) ads and their delivery might only be small steps but they’ve kicked off a new chapter of an exciting journey.
The potential benefits for brands that embrace AI are huge. Which is why this is such an important theme for the media agency industry and why PHD Media Belgium recently organised a symposium on the subject.
Now is when we need to start helping our clients prepare for this new world. So: where and how do we start?
1. Start now
SEO, PPC, Programmatic buying,... are not just a hype. They’re here to stay and they’re just the beginning. In the near future offline media will have to follow this new way of thinking: they will evolve from buying manual ad space towards electronic audience buying. Make sure you and your partner(s) embrace and master these technologies (and stay up-to-date). You’ll need people trained in a new (and exciting) way of managing your media campaigns.
2. Communication is key
Artificial (just like human) intelligence depends on knowledge. It’s no use having tons of data, if there’s no way of accessing it or linking it together. Enter marketing/technology stacks: technology ecosystems that are built to work together seamlessly. They don’t all need to be made by the same vendor, but do make sure they communicate. Case in point: the DMP revolution is happening now: get on board!
OK, you have data. And your data sources are talking to each other. But is your data as complete as it can be? Humans make educated decisions having reviewed all the information they can find, and that’s exactly what we should give our future AI systems. Don’t just tag your products with a name and a price. Don’t just register a name and a physical address for your clients. Start thinking now what information you can gather about all your assets and keep enriching your data pool.
4. Less is more
Technologies like (re)targeting already allow us to move away from carpet bombing to a more targeted approach. Yes, your cost per contact will rise. But you’ll reach (more of) the right people with a lot less waste. When John Wanamaker famously said "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half," he clearly didn’t foresee the future we’re seeing now. The best thing of all? You don’t have to wait to start doing this right now. Exploit all the data that’s available already, make sure you use a smart capping level,... These are only the first steps, but they’ll already make a huge difference. We (as an industry) need to start annoying people less while becoming more effective. Win-win.
It’s a bit counterintuitive, but the more we rely on automated decisions, the more important our brand image will become. That’s because ultimately the AI will still look at how we react to the decisions or recommendations they make. Faced with a choice between 2 products with comparable specs, the AI will look at what the (human) user feedback was before making its recommendation to you. As such, taking care of you brand image and having great customer experience will be more important than ever.
Author: Wouter Vandenameele
Digital Strategy Director @ PHD Media Belgium
(part of the Omnicom Media Group together with Semetis)