The AI revolution: How much more can digital marketing change?

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The use of Artificial intelligence (AI) technology has expanded across the globe in the past decade, and it’s quickly conquering a countless number of sectors, from customer service, through telecommunications and content creation, all the way to the medical, financial, legal, and academic sectors, forever leaving a mark on the nature of these professions. Naturally, the world is intrigued and maybe even slightly concerned about this unprecedented growth of AI, and one of the main concerns is that it would entirely replace human beings, putting a good number of people out of their jobs. But as far as many field experts are concerned, AI is here to make our lives easier, not harder, and this goes for one of the most important sectors of our time: digital marketing. So, what does the future hold for the sector that no institution can do without?

AI is imperative for business

The internet has changed how brands and consumers interact with each other in ways we have not witnessed before, but this positive change comes with a hefty price, and that’s complexity. Marketers now have to deal with a huge amount of data about consumers across an endless number of platforms, including how they interact with certain posts or products and what they need, and it all has to be measurable, get processed and analyzed, and then used for enhancing a corporation’s performance or allowing it to align its strategy to suit what consumers are looking for.

With so much data, marketers can get overwhelmed, and that’s exactly the kind of challenge AI is made to overcome. “Intelligent algorithms grow smarter the more data they ingest, which increases the value they provide to users by distilling mounds of data into grokkable insights. The use of AI in marketing is incredibly diverse and tailored to the needs of each brand. There are well-known applications like programmatic ad buying and increasingly sophisticated practices like sentiment analysis and content generation. And with marketing budgets facing continued cuts, technology like AI can help marketers get more from every investment,” says Forbes. This means that consumers can expect a more personalized experience and companies less errors and more accuracy.

Believing the use of AI can bring true value to both companies and consumers, Mostafa Abou Gamrah, CEO of MediaSci digital agency and digital marketing instructor at the American University in Cairo (AUC) School of Business Executive Education, believes that digital marketing is benefiting the most from AI systems. “If we look at the media buying arena for example, we will see that in large markets like the US and Europe 75-80 percent of the digital media buying is done by AI models. These models are also buying from other AI systems. Google AdWords and Facebook Ads Manager are examples of widely used AI algorithms,” he said.

New levels of artificial intelligence

In older movies or novels, the year 2023 was depicted as one with flying cars and humans living in space wearing their silver spacesuits. While that may not exactly be where humanity is in 2023, big advancements took place, and AI systems were taken to the next level over the past few years, and this is expected to only grow in 2023.

This McKinsey and Company’s report shows that the adoption of AI in corporations and businesses has more than doubled in the last five years. “In 2017, 20 percent of respondents reported adopting AI in at least one business area; whereas today, that figure stands at 50 percent, though it peaked higher in 2019 at 58 percent,” the report showed.

The report also shows that the top uses of AI were in sectors of service operation, marketing and sales, human resources, supply chain management, product development and other crucial sectors. Marketing came in second place with a whopping 19 percent after the sector of service operation, which accounted for 24 percent of top AI uses in organizations.

That is just the tip of the iceberg. If you have recently been surfing Facebook or LinkedIn, you’ve probably come across posts related to ChatGPT, which is expected to revolutionize how markets operate. Techopedia defines ChatGPT (Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer) as a complex machine learning model that is able to carry out natural language generation (NLG) tasks with such a high level of accuracy. It’s a new technology that reflects how far humans have reached in AI. But how is this enchanting new technology expected to change digital marketing?

The Search Engine Journal (SEJ) says that there are several interesting ways ChatGPT will change digital marketing. One is by composing complex spreadsheet formulas (with the least amount of errors possible) which are crucial for data analyses. A lot of us use Excel or Google Sheets in our daily work life, and it can be difficult sometimes to compose spreadsheet formulas, which means that you must take the time to do research to find the function name you need and then spend 10-15 minutes figuring out how to make it work. “Now it just takes you to ask ChatGPT a command like: Google Sheet formula which copies all rows from sheet1 where column ‘A’ contains word ‘iPhone’,” says SEJ. This can be enough to get the task done.

Another way ChatGPT can help digital marketing involves SEO. SEO professionals may need help getting frequently asked questions (FAQs) from users to optimize content for a specific keyword. Marketers can use ChatGPT to get these relevant questions to make a brand’s content more useful. “If you have a travel blog, you may ask related questions regarding “cozy cities in Germany” and ChatGPT will draw many queries which really make sense,” says SEJ.

Not all rainbows and butterflies

Everything comes with pros and cons, though. The Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute states that as much as AI can have a positive impact on digital marketing, it can, unfortunately, have downsides. For example, complete reliance on AI isn’t entirely possible because for AI to be useful, it needs to be fed with a rich set of data. “On a practical level, artificial intelligence is limited only by the availability of data. Because there’s a direct relationship between the richness of data and the capability of an artificial intelligence application, data becomes the key to an AI system,” says Adam Long, the VP of Product Management at Automated Insights, an American-based technology company.

In addition to that, AI can’t be relied upon in sentiment analysis (i.e. figuring out if a sentence is happy, sad or sarcastic) which can be a constraint in the communication between a brand and its customers. Several other obstacles stand in the way of AI being the basis of the digital market in the future.

Mostafa Abou Gamrah also argues that AI will create a digital gap. He adds, “AI will be available to some organizations but not to others. Ethics and fairness is going to be another big problem here, and whether this content is generated by a human being or a tool or AI model and the legality of such a thing will be a concern.”

Humans Vs. Artificial intelligence

When all is said and done, the big question remains: to what extent will AI make us, humans, replaceable? CBS News reports that there is no doubt that AI will eventually be able to do some tasks or jobs that humans do, including but not limited to some basic aspects of computer programming, basic email and mid-level writing (i.e. human resources letters and advertising copy), media buying, and writing common legal forms and documents. However, what we know now about digital marketing is that it will always need a human touch. “To truly connect with customers you’ll still need human perspective—especially concerning emotional and relational elements like storytelling, compassion and empathy. Therefore, realizing the fullest potential of human-machine partnerships requires close attention to both automating processes and developing human potential,” writes Forbes.

Abou Gamrah says that within this decade, we can expect blue collar jobs to be taken over by AI systems and robots. This means systematic rule-based jobs that don’t involve advanced human thinking or vast expertise will soon not require humans. “Not just that, but we can expect to see professions like doctors, lawyers, teachers, or TV presenters becoming AI-dominated in the future,” he adds.

It is nothing to worry about, though, according to Abou Gamrah. He says, “People have gone through similar major changes during the industrial revolution, but that’s the way for societies to advance. Humans stop wasting their energy on the silly details and start leaving them to machines. This will force people to upgrade their skills and do something that’s more sophisticated that can make them more money. The result? Societies will be upgraded as well.”

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