I subscribed to a new iPhone app the other week and a few moments later received an email welcoming me to the service. In the moment I opened that message there were two problems: the app wasn’t working for me and the welcome email I received was sent from a no-reply email address.
In a world, where marketing is forever trying to humanize the brand, business seems to engage in behavior at odds with this endeavor. Nothing humanizes your brand like new customer welcome email from a no-reply address.
Can artificial intelligence (AI) help save us from ourselves? Can it help humans be more human?
It’s a question that might invite some eye-rolling because the sheer noise over artificial intelligence (AI) in marketing circles has reached a fever pitch. The bots are coming for your marketing job – or so every headline seems to scream.
However, we should keep abreast of the developments, because there’s ample room for middle ground. As I’ve written before, I subscribe to Peter Thiel’s idea that technology augments rather than replaces human abilities.
This is a fundamental value proposition for many business technology tools. Technology takes care of the routine so we focus on more important matters. Artificial intelligence may help marketing to focus on the things that are innately human — emotion, conflict and psychology.
And that’s the theme for this week’s Unscripted Marketing links [UML]. As always below you’ll find three carefully vetted articles worthy of your interest and perusal.
1) Machine Learning vs. AI
To understand AI, we have to begin from a common starting point. By my observation, many marketers use the terms “machine learning” and “artificial intelligence” interchangeably.
I believe this is a slippery slope and Vincent Granville provides insight as to why in a piece for Data Science Central titled Difference between Machine Learning, Data Science, AI, Deep Learning, and Statistics.
“Machine learning is a set of algorithms that train on a data set to make predictions or take actions in order to optimize some systems. For instance, supervised classification algorithms are used to classify potential clients into good or bad prospects, for loan purposes, based on historical data.”
And later he adds:
“When these algorithms are automated, as in automated piloting or driver-less cars, it is called AI, and more specifically, deep learning.”
I’d posit that marketing also often seems to conflate machine learning with simple automation. But that’s probably by design, intelligent or otherwise.
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2) What is Marketing AI?
In an article for the American Marketing Association – The Past, Present and Future of AI in Marketing – reporter Hal Conick walks marketers through the implications of AI beginning with a source definition.
“For many marketers, terms like AI, machine learning and master algorithm may seem akin to a foreign language. In [Pedro] Domingos’ words, the “master algorithm” would work much like a key that could open every lock. A professor of computer science at University of Washington, Domingos says this is the big difference between the machine learning he writes about—which functions as the limitless key—and traditional programming. To keep the comparison consistent, new keys must be created for every lock in traditional programming; if marketers want to track a certain subsegment of customers, they must create a new algorithm for each.
‘The beauty of machine learning,’ Domingos says, ‘is you don’t have to program the computer to do any of these things. The same algorithm will learn to do all of them depending on the data you give it.’”
Mr. Conick also captures insightful commentary from Markus Giesler that encapsulates the notion of humanization:
“The beauty of real technology is that it’s like a mirror: We look inside it and what we see is who we are as human beings.”
3) AI will Help Marketing be More Human
The answer to the question posed in the headline appears to be that “AI technology will actually help marketing become more human.”
That’s according to Don Schuerman of Pegasystems who penned a contribution for Martech Advisor titled How Marketers Can Prepare for the New Wave of Artificial Intelligence in which he says:
“While there is talk of AI replacing marketers’ jobs, in reality it will be an asset that will make marketers more insightful, effective, and smarter about how they engage with customers and deliver meaningful experiences. Combining memory, real-time data, and intelligence, AI helps marketers more clearly understand and anticipate a customer’s needs so that they can identify the next best action for any given scenario to quickly meet that need. When a customer feels they are understood and are seen as a unique individual in the eyes of a brand, it ultimately creates a personal and more human-like connection that translates into a positive customer experience and brand loyalty.”
That sounds to me very much like Peter Drucker’s purpose for marketing:
“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”
* * *
If you’re still struggling with how AI might help humanize marketing, watch this 80-second video (embedded below) on an AI application for lawyers. It very easy to see how that might be adapted for marketing.
In fact, if you use the Google Analytics mobile app, you’ll see this type of application has already been deployed for marketers. The “Assistant” feature in the app does a pretty good job of crunching your data and making recommendations for areas of focus or improvement.
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Photo credit: Flickr, Duncan Hull, We are the robots (CC BY 2.0)