As Fortune 500 companies continue to explore more efficient avenues to grow revenue, reduce costs, and improve customer experience, their understanding of the role of artificial intelligence in digital advertising is evolving. Based on our experience guiding clients through their AI adoption journey, this is how we expect marketers’ attitudes towards AI will shift in 2020.
Gartner reports that artificial intelligence in marketing has reached the peak of inflated expectations. This is good news for solutions that are not AI-washing their existing offerings, as well as for marketers and advertisers who have already been burned by technology that does not deliver on its promises. In 2020, wary marketers will begin to cut through the AI hype by asking vendors more specific questions about how and why AI is deployed to solve the problems their solution claims to address. Rather than quickly adopt a new tool based on buzz, marketers will insist on understanding why the traditional way has failed until now and why a new approach is required. Marketers will no longer accept pitches from vendors who only provide vague answers about using AI “because it’s better” or worse, that it’s “AI magic.” They will insist on understanding how it solves problems in ways they never could have in the past.
In a commissioned study conducted by Forrester on behalf of Albert, Forrester found that AI adoption in marketing jumped from 43% in 2016 to 88% in 2019. By the end of 2020, we expect that 98% of marketers will be using AI. However, the full benefits of AI are still elusive to many because 3 out of 4 marketers are implementing assistive AI, meaning the AI is layered on top of an existing/traditional application to surface recommendations and insights. This leaves it up to humans to take action. The true value of AI is delivered when it is combined with Robotic Process Automation (RPA), so the solution can take action autonomously in real-time. Throughout 2020, we anticipate that more marketers will seek out technology that combines AI with execution capabilities as they chase truly transformative impact.
Facing economic constraints as well as pressures to stay competitive, B2C marketers who have been testing AI on a smaller scale will be driven to pioneer autonomous AI solutions. These brands will discover that the key to success involves creating human+machine digital advertising teams where artificial intelligence handles massive multivariate testing and repetitive data-driven adjustments required to deliver KPIs. At the same time, marketers will begin to collaborate with the tech to create learning agendas designed to answer ongoing strategic, creative, intuition and emotion-related questions that the machine alone cannot. Results will prove that these hybrid teams produce exponentially better outcomes than neither human nor machine could produce on their own.
As increasing numbers of marketers adopt autonomous AI, they will discover that that the road to digital transformation is paved with questions. In the face of consistent positive results, marketers will become more comfortable with machine colleagues pulling the levers of execution and will let go of concerns about why the machine did one thing and not another. This shift will open the door to questions about audience, creative and budget insights gleaned by the machine. Newly empowered marketers will begin to think about ways to have their autonomous AI colleagues test out hypotheses through efficient exploration. Insights will start to come back faster than ever before, creating a cycle of questions, tests, and results that will fuel innovation with a reach far beyond paid digital advertising teams. Human insights supported by machine learning will drive enterprise-wide insights and help marketers reclaim the greater and original function of marketing: building powerful brand and audience connections.