Everyone Is Talking About AI
ADWEEK|May 01, 2017

But what does it mean for marketers right now?

Stuart Feil

Artificial Intelligence may be the most bandied about term of 2017. For consumers, AI is powering everything from virtual personal assistants and real-time translation to GPS navigation and self-driving cars. In business, AI is under the hood of everything from ride-sharing fleets to aerial analysis of shopping malls to credit scoring.

Ad and marketing tech, of course, are no exception. As the CMO’s role grows to include everything from ad tech to customer relations and corporate strategy, it becomes clear that unique and valuable insights—the kind analyzed by AI from mountains and mountains of data—are key. “The term AI is really fraught with multiple definitions,” says Wilson Raj, global director of SAS, “but I think what’s really happening is the data revolution.”

After all, the explosion of minable data and the ability of machine learning and AI to make sense of that data means that AI is a no-brainer for marketers to maximize their reach. Likewise, consumers accustomed to flawless Netflix recommendations and one-hour, real-world Amazon deliveries now expect advertising to display similarly predictive powers. That’s because surprising, delightful experiences aren’t just the purview of laptops and smartphones.

WILL THE REAL AI PLEASE STAND UP?

What do we mean by AI? At a minimum, it’s technology that enables machines to perform more like humans, with the ability to understand language, recognize what’s in front of them, translate and make decisions— and, in a perfect world, to do this in a way that looks and feels human. But what does this mean for marketers?

“It’s important to be on those platforms [that use AI] so that we understand the benefits, so we understand the customer experience,” says Pat McLean, CMO of TD Bank. “We believe that customers still have an expectation that AI is delivering a personal and meaningful interaction for them and it’s not just transactional.”

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