As technology is increasingly applied to all phases of marketing, how much of a role will there be for the traditional marketer? This question is particularly relevant to data-intensive areas of marketing, such as paid ads through Google Ads or Bing PPC Ads, where vast amounts of information, metrics, and numerous ad groups seem tailor-made for applying data science and technology.
Various companies built leading-edge AI platforms for ad content creation and optimization, but they found that human input remains a critical component in the process.
Through testing, they have determined that a blended system combining AI's analytic power to find/generate performing content with human insight is highly effective at creating an optimized ad creative at scale.
While AI is a powerful tool and can dramatically improve many aspects of marketing, humans provide unique capabilities in understanding culture, context, and meaning.
Industry thought leader Rob Norman shared similar sentiments when he gave marketers the advice, "Fear not. The move toward automation will only create more need for the work marketers do to build relevant, assistive brands." However, Norman claims marketers need to evolve from intelligence workers to imagination workers to stay relevant to avoid becoming obsolete.
He describes the role of the marketer as an imagination worker:
The most successful brands will be the ones associated with an emotion, belief, or value that resonates with audiences on a personal level like Patagonia is doing with adventure, and Airbnb is doing with acceptance, belonging, and safety.
The most successful brands will be those adept at creating new demand with attention-worthy storytelling and creatively capturing latent demand with relentless relevance to the person, the context, and the moment.
These assurances may help calm some uncertainty but let's look at a few specific instances where humans can't be replaced.
Automation shines when it can analyze large amounts of data, fill in the blanks and use iterative testing to achieve measurable results. However, these systems need well-defined guidelines and rules and the initial copy from which to work.
Skilled humans can imagine more divergent solutions, understand the context better, and empathize more deeply. These abilities enable marketers to navigate the more creative yet complex tasks Norman calls "attention-worthy storytelling" and "relentless relevance."
As AI-based writing improves, the copy it generates will become more proficient. This advancing baseline may have the unintended consequence of causing reproduction within industries to converge.
Companies relying heavily on automation may find their copy more like their competitors. Marketers will need to try more creative approaches to stand out from the crowd, which may be riskier than the demonstrated value from blander but more thoroughly tested copy.
Word meanings and connotations can shift rapidly due to events outside the scope of an advertising campaign. A word or phrase which might have been innocuous one week may become politically or socially charged from an unpredictable change in sentiment.
Intentionally using or avoiding such terms may benefit campaigns. While automated sentiment analysis may eventually reflect such changes, humans now understand rapid and temporary shifts more quickly.
Empathizing with an audience allows the marketer and organization to address needs and desires more thoughtfully. Genuinely managing emotions and values build more robust relationships.
Here marketers are instrumental in creating and curating guidelines that reflect corporate values and resonate. Human writers or automated systems may follow these to create copy that speaks with a unified brand voice across all channels.
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AI is no longer the future—it's part of the present. Companies worldwide leverage AI to improve their marketing efforts by predicting campaign success or analyzing customer sentiments.