Xenios Thrasyvoulou
Xenios Thrasyvoulou 16 February 2018
Categories Research, Technology

AI: The Marketer’s Friend or Foe?

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been received in much the same way as automation, and industrialisation before it. People are excited by the prospect, impressed by the capability, and worried about what it might mean for them.

The major difference between AI and all previous developments created to expedite industry, however, is that it has the capacity to affect a wider demographic. While past developments have primarily been designed to cut the physical processes of production, AI infringes upon previously safe territory: the creative industries.  

Although a computer might not – yet – be able to pen prose to compare with Pride and Prejudice, technology IS now available that might bring a stirring of unease to designers, animators, VFX specialists, producers – and marketers. The question is, then: will AI be your new best friend, or your greatest nemesis yet?

So, how might AI be used in marketing, and will it be an asset or a threat?

User – or viewer – experience is one of the key concerns of the marketer. Content marketing strategy is your bread and butter, but apart from expensive focus groups and unreliable surveys, you have no real way to ascertain just what your client’s customers make of your content until the moment has passed. AI-enabled algorithms can be used make those judgement calls to deliver a personalised marketing campaign – selected from a range of materials that you have previously prepared. Using cookies to collect customer search data, interests and buying behaviour, AI can enable your work to work harder, by helping it to reach the right people. It won’t be doing your job for you, but rather helping you to do your job better.

Likewise, chatbots – the demand for freelance chatbot developers has increased by 160% in the last twelve months because the system devised to provide customer service without the expense of a human employee is friendlier than a FAQs page and can gather important customer data while dealing with issues that needn’t be escalated. For the marketer this not only enhances customer experience, but provides a windfall of information.

It’s this move towards a demand for more personalised services that is powering the development of voice and facial recognition technology. Voice driven technology specialists have seen the demand for their services on PeoplePerHour increase by 125% since 2016, facial recognition experts by 50%. At the moment they’re being used in different fields – customer accessibility and security respectively – but they too can be the marketer’s friend, detecting human emotions to direct marketing materials. The marketer’s baseline aim is to connect with people, and that is the strength that this form of AI delivers.

The whole point of the vast majority of business-orientated technical developments is to enhance productivity, and the big fear with that is that it will lead to the eventual redundancy of the people it was originally designed to help. In the creative industries AI is not about taking over the creativity, but providing tools to help that creativity go further.

The freelancer is often the barometer of a changing employment climate. A business may require certain skills, but not to a great enough extent to justify the creation of a permanent position. As these skills become more valued, so the number of freelance experts grow, along with the wages that they are able to command. At PeoplePerHour (PPH) we regularly analyse the trending roles on our platform, and I find this sneak peek into the changing demands of business fascinating. But what might interest those within the marketing field is that while the demand for AI experts has experienced a very healthy 50% growth in the last 12 months, niche marketers – specifically those able to provide WhatsApp expertise – have seen their demand increase by 95%. The rise hasn’t been quite so spectacular, but dynamic content creators are also experiencing a heyday, with a 57% increase in demand.   

Of course, things can change, and the next technological leap could be the production of a computer that works exactly like a human brain, which in theory might mean that we’re all done for (although in practise would likely lead to lengthy discussions about virtual holidays, sick pay and the ethics behind the need for tea breaks even though computers can’t actually drink tea). However, for the time being, I’d put money on the notion that AI will soon be the best tool that those within the marketing field have ever had at their disposal, and you’ll soon be wondering how you ever managed without your freelance AI developer.  

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