What role does Artificial Intelligence have in marketing?

Ben Clayton

19 Jul 2022

“Creativity is the highest form of intelligence because it goes beyond recall and into knowledge creation” was the opening thought from Jason Miller, Marketing Director at Tyk.

A reassuring start to a conference full of B2B marketeers, many of whom will have been told that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will make them redundant. Or at very best, it will be too complex and only understood by Gen Y and younger.

My main takeaway from Ignite last week is that although AI (and MarTech more broadly) is already impacting marketing and creative, we’re getting to a point now where the narrative is less about it being totally game-changing. Instead, it’s shifting to the small, iterative ways AI will affect our day-to-day roles.

In short, people are more realistic about the role it will play in marketing.

Katie King, author of Using Artificial Intelligence in Marketing, reminded us of many uses that are already second nature. Whether that be chatbots for customer service or workplace tools like Otter.ai.

This of course isn’t specific to marketing, but it shows how these tools make our jobs easier – therefore affording us more time to be creative (or more time at the pub, depending on how disciplined you are).

Importantly, they are also constantly learning, becoming smarter with every interaction – all of which will open up new use cases that are perhaps a bit more specific to marketing.

For better or for worse?

Although it’s a few years old now, one example shown at Ignite was Lexus’ AI ad which used IBM Watson to assess 15 years’ worth of award-winning ad footage before writing a script.

Of course, it wasn’t left to entirely its own devices and was supported by award-winning director, Kevin Macdonald. But it was good. No one can argue with that. The thing is, so was their 2013 advert Poise by Russell Maliphant.

So, has AI actually added anything creatively? Has it reached a broader audience? Or improved recall recognition?

In a similar vein is the recent Cannes Lions B2B winner that uses AI and speech recognition to find the perfect colour. Does this add any real value or is it merely a stunt?

The point here is that regardless of the campaign – be it a big budget consumer ad or small budget targeted B2B campaign – we (humans) are responsible for injecting the creativity. And it’s more important than ever.

The importance of good creative

Jason made the point that our channels are merging and regardless of the product you’re selling, there’s a high chance you’ll be up alongside a Netflix ad in people’s timelines. Even if social media isn’t a platform you use, you’re still competing for their time versus Netflix.

That’s why we have H20 – Harvard’s answer to the creative process, designed to inject attention-grabbing creative into every project. Our creative methodology blends data, insights and imagination to produce ideas we know will grab the attention of our audience.

Making AI work for you

We’re clearly leaving the ‘hype’ stage of AI with regards to marketing, and although there’s been some interesting progress, we’re still figuring it out.

For me it’s about using AI to support your strategy and using it as a tool where you identify a need, not ‘just because’.

It’s impossible to say after Ignite last week what the future holds, but one thing is clear: there’s a growing demand for digital marketing and strategy specialists thanks to AI (Future of Jobs Report 2020, World Economic Forum) – and it should be embraced.