In a relatively short space of time, artificial intelligence and the tech that it powers have made a considerable difference to the way marketers reach and engage with their audiences at scale. While in the beginning programmatic relied on past information or segmentation to plan campaigns, now AI is used to spot the patterns in consumer behaviour before making real-time decisions about where to deliver an ad. It’s less programmatic and more predictive. In addition, true AI platforms change tactics on the fly based on micro-calibrations and what features are impacting outcomes.
Despite coming on leaps and bounds when it comes to serving ads at the right time and in the right place to engage with customers, there are exciting times ahead. AI ain’t done yet, and the following are just a few of the ways it is going to impact the industry both today and in the years to come.
There are now oceans of data available to marketers – far too much for the human brain to compute, organise or utilise, which presents both a challenge and a great opportunity for businesses. On one hand, there’s more than we know what to do with. On the other, it holds the secret to something advertisers have been attempting to discover since the ‘Mad Men’, Madison Avenue era – a clear picture of who will purchase what they have to sell.
AI enables us to understand all this information; it does the heavy lifting by sorting and then utilising the details it finds. This means brands, advertisers and media agencies are better equipped than ever to understand their consumers and what they want. It is arguably the most powerful marketing tool out there when you consider no human could decide in a millisecond where to place an advert across 300 billion real-time daily impression opportunities.
Insights like never before
It’s true that AI is being used to automate the delivery of advertising based on the information it can glean from consumer patterns online. But it is actually way smarter and much more valuable to an organisation. Although an AI-powered platform like Sizmek’s will provide the brain power to decide which ad to serve and wherein a heartbeat, the benefits to brands and agencies go deeper. The value also lies in its ability to analyse incomprehensible amounts of data, learn from it, then make recommendations to assist marketing decisions at both tactical and strategic levels. In turn, this provides insights like we’ve never seen before. And marketers, or even entire organisations, can use these to improve campaigns, fine tune marketing strategies, reach new consumers and boost the ROI from ad spend.
Better customer knowledge
AI is helping us to identify patterns in data sets, providing insight into the factors that lead a consumer to make a purchase. This means marketers can optimise their targeting towards a specific outcome (think % increase in online insurance applications, for example), rather than solely relying on segments and third-party data to make decisions about ad campaigns.
Previously, a marketer would assign a specific set of parameters, such as age or gender, in order to locate and then communicate with a particular consumer or audience group. Now, however, we can identify the elements of a campaign that work before discovering and reaching a world of new customers. This is a major milestone for both programmatic and for advertising in general. After all, this is an industry that has relied on the knowledge of ‘target’ customers for decades, and businesses have believed they understand their customers for decades. AI turns the notion on its head, using technology to discover new information about who these consumers are, where they are and what they need or desire.
Augmented intelligence – AI
While many believe the power of AI lies in its ability to make technology and ad serving platforms smarter and more efficient, it is actually people who benefit greatly from its adoption. Those running businesses, marketing departments and ad campaigns become better informed as a result of AI. And this major shift in the way we learn about consumers then reach them online is going to categorically change the job of the marketer in the future. Contrary to the media scaremongering about bots taking over the world and stealing our jobs, AI will augment our intelligence, providing us with a powerful tool to make decisions about who we should target and how. People, not machines, will be pulling the levers, and they’ll have an unprecedented amount of insight in order to make the right decisions.
Now it’s up to the marketer to become a hybrid – part creative and consumer-focused and part scientific, with one hand on the system that enables them to learn about their audience. Marketers are about to become more intrinsic to the workings of an organisation. If they’re willing to let it, AI can propel them forward, enabling them to play a pivotal role in data management, digital transformation and strategic direction.