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AI needs a CMO

By Selin Cebeci, Global Digital Director, MediaCom US

Selin Cebeci, Global Digital Director, MediaCom US

People have been fascinated with Artificial Intelligence(and their robotic counterparts) for many years and looking through the movie archives you can see why. Often featured as a threat to humankind as well as having more power and capabilities than humans themselves. Maybe for that reason, despite all the benefits of the ability to create supportive cognitive functionalities to people and businesses, AI and machine learning continue to be approached with trepidation and viewed with an uncertain mystery, which is why it needs to work on its marketing and employ its first CMO. 

AI does not necessarily mean the Terminator, and if we stick with the popular culture references, NARS, the robot from Interstellar, is more likely to be closer to the physical manifestation of AI - how “it”(“he”?) enhanced the leading characters capabilities – it didn’t replace them. It’s easy to apply that to our lives today and how we’re already impacted by artificial intelligence and machine learning, every day, whether it’s through our smart home devices, smart cars or smartphones, AI and ML are already influencing us one way or another, through the music we listen to, the route we take to work, and the items recommended to us to buy.

We need to stop thinking of AI as just stereotypical robots or machines, as in reality we’re referring to massive neural networks that operate like the human brain –but to the power of 10?! (more?!) And in marketing and media, which is being disrupted by this technological revolution more than others, we are already experiencing how it enhances our capabilities, helping us to be informed on consumers’ buying decisions, building recommendations per users’ past behavior, analyzing data, making predictions faster than humans alone can process.

"As much as AI and ML are often seen to be the saving grace of mundane tasks, we must always remember – just like us - they’re not perfect"

Putting aside the excitement from the movies and imagining ourselves with our own NARS by our side, there are some very important and pragmatic uses of AI for the media and marketing industry that will impact our work, lives and experiences in more ways than what we might expect.

As we go through the growing pains of more data than we know what to do with – where for the most part, marketing and media data are siloed and cluttered – what should be a ‘data lake’ is often a ‘data swamp’. AI will bring with it an experience of a unified / clutter free data environment, freeing us humans up for what we do best – connecting that data to human insights that cannot be distilled into 1’s and 0’s. The ability to be truly data-informed in our strategies to connect with people, to connect those people with the brands that we represent, within the context of the world that every individual we are trying to reach exists.

As we (us marketing humans) increasingly become freed of data entry, data mining, data analyzing, data sorting, and can instead allow our minds to imagine and create, we can be part of and enjoy an evolution from data rich, but insight / idea-poor industry, to one that is rich in both data and creativity. Embracing artificial intelligence with our marketing intelligence, will bring the opportunity for greater and more powerful storytelling for the brands we represent.

But - (there’s always one) - as much as AI and ML are often seen to be the saving grace of mundane tasks, we must always remember – just like us - they’re not perfect. Just like us – they evolve and learn with usage and time, and, can and will make mistakes. It’s upto all of us to manage their influence so that those mistakes are not inspiration for the next blockbuster movie, or marketing campaign.

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