Future of marketing: will generative AI mean everything or nothing? - ClickZ

30-second summary:

  • The advent of generative AI which is still in its nascent stage has stirred up conversations regarding its future especially in the marketing community
  • Peter Rice, AVP, Marketing Systems Strategy, Kepler shares his insights on what could be in store and how brands can prepare to integrate it as part of their strategy
  • Ultimately the moment to address generative AI is finally here and stakeholders can no longer afford to sit on the fence
  • We have a look at the worlds of generative AI, their convergence with reality, and provide a roadmap to navigate a future as it unfolds

If last year was all about the Metaverse, this year will be defined by the implications of OpenAI’s ChatGPT4 and its ilk. But whereas interest in the metaverse is already fading – seen as a much longer-term bet – generative AI is having a field day and has profound potential for the future of marketing.

But how? What future or futures could we see emerge as the technology is deployed in real-world brand activity whether that’s for creative or media investment?

Already there are two stark alternative visions of marketing’s AI-driven future that are emerging. One halcyon, one nightmarish.

Utopia: generative AI becomes synonymous with the new web

The latest generation of generative AI is rapidly integrated into existing chatbots, apps, analysis tools, optimization, and investment black boxes. Media technology stacks won’t be thinking, but they’ll be chewing through data and providing far smarter interpretations of audience behaviors, needs, and expectations.

Very soon, we’ll all become accustomed to AI-based apps, experiences, and services able to deliver highly personalized experiences to us as individuals.

Our interactions with brands will (Read more...) more natural – it will feel like Siri and Alexa went through college.

AI will be seamlessly woven into the discovery, shopping, and products of every business, whether that is augmented reality dressing rooms for retail brands, or custom-generated index funds tailored to invest in issues an individual cares about.

It will be as normal and expected as the web is now. And it will get gradually smarter. It’ll be so good at anticipating our needs we won’t find it creepy.

For brands, all this marketing work will be done in real time, with little need for staff oversight because generative AI has put the design and execution of these ideas at the fingertips of creators within the organization to realize their vision at scale.

Marketers are freed from the shackles that have held them back – lack of information and time.

New ideas abound, and there will be exponential growth in creative output – we will have ushered in a renaissance of content creativity and personalization.

Dystopia: a chaotic hub of repurposed content

Generative AI is no more than a complex interpreter of available data, presented in natural language.

It does not think – yet. It is not fabled and feared ‘General Artificial Intelligence’. It is flawed as many have already pointed out, its interpretations can be biased and inaccurate. But it is uncannily persuasive. It has the potential therefore to get marketing stuck in an in-human doom loop.

Brand messaging, product design, and user experiences become an echo chamber of recycled ideas.

Generative AI has created the illusion that brands are innovating quickly when in reality they are simply leveraging generative AI to reconstruct previously created ideas that exist within its training data.

Consumers are frustrated by the homogeneity and lifelessness of the content that is being generated, while also being confused by the rapid pace at which it changes, removing the sense of brand vision, voice, and equity.

Simultaneously, businesses haven’t been able to effectively streamline operations to center around the administrative and efficiency benefits that generative AI can provide and have instead created additional overheads by appending generative AI onto their historic operating models creating more work and more confusion, without realizing the operational benefits.

Where worlds intersect with the human element – nuanced, complex, balanced

The truth of course is both these future scenarios are likely. If brands fail to get to grips with the capabilities and problems the technology presents – we’ll see instances of truly misguided AI marketing. We’ll also see brands, organizations, and technologies really capture the power of the technology for good.

And then there is the third way, a more nuanced and complex future. A version of which I think is more likely to emerge.

Once the limits are understood and the checks and balances are in place to control and use it well, AI will empower agencies and brand marketing people. In this sense, it does mean everything to the industry. It will unlock the door to far better relationships with consumers and effective investment in media and platforms.

But I also think in eventuality, it is likely that AI will mean nothing to marketers on a day-to-day basis. It will become a fundamental part of life, in the background, always there, always useful. We will probably become dependent on it.

Roadmap to navigate the AI maze

Right now, how can brands go about integrating the latest generation of AI?

Every marketing organization will need to create an AI integration roadmap with key elements including:

Determine your legal and infosec approach

As with all technology, there is often a first-mover advantage, but navigating the legal and info security ambiguity of the space will be challenging. Proactively addressing these blockers to the best of your organization’s ability and comfort level is essential to pave the path to leverage generative AI to its greatest potential. Getting these fundamentals in place will mean you can move fast in a time of rapid change.

Enable your employees to use it (productively)

Many generative AI services are well-positioned for organizationally administrated approaches. You can enable your employees to experiment by ensuring generative AI services aren’t a taboo, but rather an experimental service. This approach can encourage innovation while also mitigating the risk that generative AI is being used without understanding how, when, and with what level of oversight.

Embrace the potential of ‘structuring’

While generative AI is not yet creating fundamentally novel insights in complex areas like data privacy or marketing strategy, it is exceptionally good at creating structure. Marketers and marketing organizations can immediately leverage this power to rapidly set up a framework of well-organized deliverables, that are ripe for the deft touch of subject matter experts and highly trained practitioners within your organization to tailor to the specific needs of a situation.

Creative design and prototyping

Get your ideas directly into images and copy without the delay of back and forth with creative teams/agencies. This doesn’t mean generative AI is a replacement for good branding, good creative services, and good strategy, but it can be a great utility for rapidly prototyping and conveying the vision of strategists who may lack the creative chops.

Data analysis

Generative AI’s data analytics capabilities are still evolving but represent a massive opportunity to identify themes that you may never have seen previously. Ensure your data is well structured and accessible so that you can maximize your opportunity for trial and error within available resources.

Generative AI is both an immediate imperative and a long-term change-maker. The fact is AI is already everywhere across the industry. Rather than something new, we are witnessing the arrival of something profoundly better.

Peter Rice is the AVP, Marketing Systems Strategy. Peter leads technology consultation, solutions architecture, and solutions engineering efforts across Kepler’s global footprint. 

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