Advertising, and the larger world of marketing, is heavily reliant on data. Yet, as we know, leveraging that data for effective campaigns is a complicated task. Could artificial intelligence be the practical, and ethical, answer?
The Current State of Marketing and Advertising
In its latest State of Marketing report, Salesforce emphasizes the fact that the current frontline of brand competition is customer experience. Almost 70 percent of companies agree with this, but are all over the board when it comes to their progress toward improving the customer experience.
What do consumers want in that experience? In a word, personalization. Both individual consumers and business buyers favor consistent experiences across channels.
This is where data comes in. Historically, advertisers and other marketers walked a thin line between creating a personalized experience and going too deeply into consumers’ personal data. These days, 52 percent of Gen Xers and 58 percent of Millennials are willing to share their data if it means a better shopping experience.
Data is a Challenge to Developing the Customer Experience
Turning that data into great customer experiences, however, is tougher than it sounds. One challenge is taking data from multiple sources and generating a single and complete picture of the consumer from it. Budgets make this difficult, as do insufficient internal resources.
Using the data across advertising channels is also difficult, though the top performing brands see such coordination as key. Coordination goes beyond consistent messaging across channels – it’s about ad messaging that evolves across channels based on consumer actions. Right now, although leading brands strive for this, only 43 percent accomplish it.
Roles Change to Fit a Customer Experience Strategy
As focus shifts to the customer journey, 89 percent of the top performing companies’ teams and departments are restructuring around that strategy. New roles, such as customer experience analyst, have emerged within marketing teams.
Stepping back, Salesforce finds that the whole concept of marketing, and advertising as a part of that, is changing its place within organizations. The positive result is increased collaboration between departments.
Technology Evolves to Orchestrate the Customer Experience
Top performing companies use data management platforms and customer identity access management platforms to set up touchpoints along the customer journey.
Those companies also tend to use a range of technology tools, in some cases as many as 15, to gather the data they need. Of course, it’s important to ensure that data from multiple sources can be integrated (see first link in this article) to provide that single picture of the consumer, as we discussed a couple sections back.
Emerging technologies are expected to develop and grow as a customer-centered approach becomes more standard. Of those technologies, artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to have the most growth.
Artificial Intelligence Seen as a Key to Data and Personalization
AI is expected to grow in the coming years, but what exactly will it do? Specifically, it can make advertising more efficient and personalized.
Of those companies already using it, 64 percent say it’s increased overall efficiency, and 57 percent say it helps create 1-to-1 marketing experiences. Leading companies are more than three times as likely as underperformers to use AI extensively.
Better yet, AI is expected to positively impact automated social interactions with chatbots and interfaces.
Thoughts from the Industry on AI and Advertising
Artificial intelligence is poised to play a larger and growing role in marketing as a whole. How does it play into advertising as a specific aspect of marketing? The industry has a few things to say.
One piece from AdvertisingAge discusses the ethics of using AI in advertising. The article brings up the fact that advertisers can learn so much more than demographics, and may even be able to understand individual consumers’ motivations and vulnerabilities. Could advertising thus move from persuasion to behavior control?
More practically, what about the potential for biased data, flawed decisions and privacy violations?
The piece goes on to describe a possible code of ethics based on data, algorithms and consumer choice. This code is designed to remove moral guesswork for advertisers, and make the consumer a sort of partner in determining the marketing they receive.
Adweek takes another track, questioning the possibility for AI to replace human advertisers. Can algorithms compete with human creativity?
This article looks at four companies already incorporating AI with their creative advertising processes. At the moment, a successful formula involves taking human ideas and using AI to personalize them for audiences.
Over at MarTech Today, we hear about using AI in display advertising. Ethics aside, marketers overwhelmingly feel consumers are ready for AI and think it can solve problems. Like the Salesforce report, MarTech sees artificial intelligence as a means to making advertising more efficient and personalized.
Here at SearchForce we’ve talked about using AI to fuel customer loyalty. Once again, the ultimate key seems to be using the tools available to create a personalized consumer journey.
The pool of data digital marketers and advertisers encounter has grown beyond comprehension, but it continues to hold immeasurable value. When used ethically, creatively and efficiently, artificial intelligence might be the solution we’ve been waiting for.