Actually, tools like IBM's
Watson that are capable of making decisions and "thinking"
aren't replacements for people. They're tools that let marketers do
their jobs better. They are well positioned to do the advertising
Why marketers need
The advertising world got by for a century or so without
artificial intelligence. Why does it need it now? The short answer
is that the media environment has gotten far too complex. It is
beyond human capability to reach an individual online via his or
her various devices. To have a clear conversation with me -- Bruce
the consumer -- you would have to process huge amounts of data.
That's not because I'm unusually complex, but rather because I
switch between devices, like many consumers.
In addition, you have to be able to react in real time. You have
to be able to access, process and act on data in milliseconds. You
also have to do what Google does, which is look at the history of
clicks and be able to serve up an ad that statistically is the most
likely to draw engagement.
While such tools offer exciting possibilities, marketers often
aren't using them to their fullest. That's because there's a big
shift in understanding from marketers' traditional sphere of
knowledge -- how to buy ads on television and print -- and
understanding how to use algorithms, technology, data and machine
intelligence to engage. In particular, the data pieces are key
because as more consumption goes through digital channels, it
creates a data resource for marketers.
This is the essence of programmatic. However, many marketers
still see programmatic as a line item on a budget, telling their
agencies how much TV, print and programmatic to buy. That's missing
the opportunity. Programmatic isn't a means of buying media; it's
actually a technology to reach the end user.
A tool, not a replacement
While marketers should have a grasp of programmatic's potential,
they don't need to master all of its inner workings. Just like a
Nascar driver doesn't need to know how to assemble an engine, a
marketer can look at a tech partner as the facilitator of a "What
Works Machine." Most marketers realize that the most effective way
to reach consumers now is via one-on-one conversations. To do that,
you need a "What Works Machine" that uses machine learning.
This should be viewed as a tool that helps empower marketers.
Just as AI is prompting autonomous cars, robots and smart
appliances, it can help marketers gain quick access to
game-changing insights and facilitate intelligent conversations
with consumers across all of their devices. It can also help
marketers allocate resources more efficiently by letting them know
when to go big and when to pull back.
In other words, to answer Turing's question from long ago:
Computers can do huge amounts of mental heavy lifting and free us
up to focus on higher-level, more strategic work. They can think,
but we shouldn't let them do our thinking for us.