7 Hot Takes on AI and the Future of Marketing

Late last year — on November 30, 2022, specifically — OpenAI released an early demo of ChatGPT. Within weeks, everyone was talking about it (and using it). Shortly following that came the release of DALL-E, the AI image generator. And on the heels of that, Microsoft and Google both announced AI-powered versions of their search portals.

Collectively, these new technologies represented a seismic shift. AI is changing everything. And marketers have, accordingly, spent the last six months trying to navigate it. We’re sifting through waves of hype and grappling with onslaughts of information. Clearly, we’ve walked through a door. But what new space have we entered?

To help provide some clarity, we reached out to seven of the smartest marketers we know and asked this question:

Now that the initial hype has died down, in what ways do you believe AI will truly affect marketing going forward? And as we start planning for 2024, where should we be focusing our attention?

The experts below represent a wide variety of industries and viewpoints. As such, we received a thoughtful and diverse set of responses. And we thank them all for their contributions.

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John Neilson
Director – Global Digital Marketing
Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions

It’s clear that AI is here to stay and will indeed play a significant role in shaping the future of marketing, but we’re still just scratching the surface of how best to use these technologies. Now is the time to experiment and determine how AI can uplevel your marketing game. Test different platforms, many of which have free trials/versions, to learn how they can impact productivity, efficiency and scale. Figure out how to go deeper … a simple prompt to ChatGPT can deliver mind blowing results but tailoring these prompts to fit specific use cases is where the gold is. Keep in mind that while AI can seem threatening, we are by no means at a place where AI can adequately replace people, let alone be trusted to author usable content without human oversight. The goal of the next 18 months should be to find those areas where AI can augment marketing and add more value to the function.

 

Emily Spitale
Chief Marketing Officer
Temple University – Lewis Katz School of Medicine

My team is trying to absorb as much information as we can. As a leader, the one thing I can do is encourage the team to explore AI and figure out how it can benefit our work and Temple University. I am looking at how it can make our day to day smarter and what tools will benefit my team. There are so many people weighing in; every day it gets a little easier and more interesting to work with. I am taking advantage of my networks testing it and sharing their experiences. I remember when the world wide web started and the anxiety about how it would impact the world. Today we get information (good/bad, real/fake) so fast, it can be overwhelming. Even though it feels like swallowing the ocean right now, it’s important to be systematic and thoughtful about all of it.

 

Ron Wagner
Chief Marketing Officer & SVP Customer Experience
Mac Papers

Tech for tech’s sake is no good. Use tech to serve a strategic purpose. Always start with the end-in-mind. For years and years now, many people come to me with great ideas on how to harness technology. Often times, it’s folks that have tactics in search of strategies. Strategies should drive the tactics. Strategically, as a marketer, I need to:

  • Understand customer info-gathering and buying behaviors.
  • Understand how they search on-line contextually.
  • Understand functional and emotional buying triggers.
  • Know how they develop their consideration set and various purchase options.
  • Be able to better serve my customers with speed, certainty and simplicity.

Consider first what you want and need to learn to better sell and serve customers and you can look for the AI solutions that help you.

 

Catie Haelig
Senior Creative Director, Content Design
Comcast

The most accurate thing I’ve seen on the subject of generative AI is a meme that says (paraphrasing): for ChatGPT to replace creatives, clients would have to know what they want AND be able to articulate it. It’s true. Generative AI does just that: generate. It doesn’t emote, or empathize. It can’t translate a client’s abstract thoughts into direction. So, to me, GAI tools belong firmly in a creative team’s toolkit. There, I think they can have great effect on versioning and speed to market — super-powering already great teams (and making even bad ones fast). In planning for 2024, marketers should remember that these tools are good brainstorm partners, but not good friends. They can take sensitive information you feed them and make it public to other audiences. They can hallucinate outputs that don’t match up with reality. And, even in a lightly regulated industry, if you can’t take the bot to legal — then you can’t use what the bot gave you.

 

Matthew Foote
Digital Marketing Director
Technology Industry

As we start planning for 2024, marketers need to think about how to use AI to their advantage. To do that, we need to understand AI not as a new tool or a new data set, but as a new engine of productivity, powered by data. Not only can we use it to improve discrete marketing functions, we can also use it to integrate functions, like marketing and customer service, to create more value for customers. In a nutshell, AI gives marketers the tools they need to deliver better returns, and the data to prove it. On the other hand, AI will radically reshape marketing teams by reducing the need for repetitive task-oriented work and injecting significantly more data into planning and analytics. Gartner estimates that 75% of operational staff will shift from production to more strategic activities in the next three years. You can imagine the kind of impact that shift will have.  

 

Kathy Sattin
Director Customer Growth Marketing
WorkFusion

In terms of governance, responsible and ethical AI is going to be front and center over the next few years as the technology takes hold in our daily lives. At the government level, much like cybersecurity, we will start to see more oversight and public/private partnerships. At a corporate level, organizations are going to have to create strategies around how their employees engage with AI. At a developer level, AI companies will need to be transparent with how their AI makes decisions. However, make no mistake, AI is going to permeate every aspect of our jobs and it’s going to happen faster than we can even imagine.

 

Christopher Helle
Chief Marketing Officer
Healthcare Industry

As innovation and technology cycles become shorter and more frequent, our expectations of what AI tools can deliver will only grow. Specifically, AI tools can help us save time in targeting, creating, and automating engaging, hyper-personalized content — both written and images — based on past consumer behaviors, personas, and purchase history. Optimizations from A/B testing will accelerate and data-driven algorithms will become more powerful, rendering greater efficiency, efficacy, and marketing ROI. Additionally, AI tools can help improve customer experiences by generating faster and more relevant responses to customers, particularly as search results become even more accurate and chatbots become endowed with ever greater intelligence driven by continuous learning from broader and deeper data sets. Of course, AI cannot replace human judgment around brand personality and nuanced meaning, so there is still a need for sharp, strategic, and creative brand ambassadors at the helm!

 

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