The Rise of the Marketing Machines

Online marketing and AI

It wasn’t that long ago that a robot uprising or machines taking over the world was the stuff of science fiction and Hollywood movies. But significant advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) has moved from the silver screen to reality. Online marketing is seen as one of the areas ripe for AI to play an important role.

Artificial intelligence is a very broad term used to describe any task performed by a computer that would normally require human intelligence. This umbrella term covers a wide spectrum including everything from chess-playing computer programs to Siri to spam filters. Machine-learning is the science of getting computers to learn and improve their learning over time. This happens by feeding them data and information in the form of observations and real-world interactions.

And while some AI applications evokes ideas of humans being replaced, savvy marketers aren’t fearful about AI. Rather, they are looking to the advanced technology to provide a new and more effective way to help them achieve goals. Marketers will continue to be involved, however, with anything that has to do with creativity. They will focus on understanding the customer, figuring out overall strategy, having actual conversations with other humans.

But unlike people AI is consistent. And it’s good at tracking and delivering high-quality results. This  saves time and money – things all online marketers seek to accomplish.

AI Getting Traction

NewBase polled 1,019 marketers worldwide in April 2017 about the types of technologies they plan to prioritize over the next 12 months. Thirty percent of respondents said they planned to prioritize AI. That’s up from 13 percent in 2016. Similarly, roughly a quarter (24 percent) of marketers worldwide said that AR will be a priority in 2017. Just 18 percent felt the same way in 2016.

Data from Boxever found that nearly eight in 10 US senior marketers surveyed believed consumers were ready for AI.

But exactly how online marketers plan to use AI is evolving. Thirty-five percent NewBase’s respondents said the internet of things (IoT) will be a priority in the next 12 months. However, that is down from 51 percent in 2016.

Also down on the priority list are areas including like mcommerce, social media software and wearable technology. Instead, online marketers believe voice assistants, drones and robotics (in some form) will affect their overall business over the coming 12 months, according to NewBase.

Here are some ways online marketers will use AI:
Online marketing and AI

Content Marketing

Marketers are investing heavily in content marketing. And  many are looking to emerging AI to help shape their strategies. Data from BrightEdge and SurveyMonkey looked at the probability that US market leaders will use AI or deep learning to develop their 2017 content marketing efforts. Fifty-seven  percent of respondents said they’re unlikely to use AI or deep learning in their content marketing. But nearly a third (31.4 percent) said they were somewhat likely to use AI to help flesh out their content marketing strategy. And an additional 8.7 percent said they were very likely to do so. Meanwhile, 2.8 percent  said they’re already using AI to develop their content efforts.

Chat Bots

There are already bots in place that let shoppers engage and ask questions. But they will become more common. The expectation is that bots will not just be part of website, but power them. This means the bots will understand answer complex questions and help shoppers. Using AI these interactions will  be done via voice input because it’s much more efficient. The result will be visual output because it’s easier to understand than listening.

Voice Search

Searching using voice is already here. Think Siri, Alexa, Google Home. And voice search currently accounts for one fifth of all mobile searches. However, yet two-thirds of marketers have no plans for implementation, according to a new survey from SEO and content performance marketing platform, BrightEdge. Of the 252 digital marketers at Fortune 500 brands surveyed by BrightEdge 27 percent believed that mobile was the next big thing. Nearly 31 percent believe voice search is the next big trend.

Advanced Recommendation and Segmentation

Search is already using AI, but more advanced uses of search will include a focus on recommendation technologies and segmentation technologies. AI search helps users find what they want based on their commands. AI-driven recommendations helps users find what they want based on many more signals (including on-page behavior, historical user data, purchase history, and more).

Recommendation also has the benefit of going beyond giving people what they want, and instead nudging users toward what is most likely to drive results for the company.  Marketers will be able to deliver the highest-converting data-driven marketing messaging. This is seen as a way to boost average order value.

Marketing Automation

The biggest opportunity for marketing automation lies at the intersection of transaction data and the quantifiability of the customer journey. The most likely areas for AI advances include media platforms, marketplaces, and consumer-focused online retailers . AI also helps with the ability to scale trackable engagements, marketing activities, and sales activities into a single pool of insightful data.

It will take a few more years before the online marketing world inexorably meshes with artificial intelligence. But the evolution of online marketing is coming and the robots may be leading the way.