If the 2010s were all about building the foundation of advertising effectiveness, the 2020s will be about the combined power of humans and machines. In the next era of marketing, people matter as much as artificial intelligence. It’s a simple equation, says,
Lance Brothers, Chief Revenue Officer, NCSolutions.
Mention artificial intelligence to anyone, and there’s a good chance you’ll witness a range of emotions. We’re excited robots will vacuum our floors but we’re also a little wary of AI taking our jobs.
It’s true that machine learning and AI have virtually unlimited potential for handling tasks more efficiently and accurately than a human. Robots are capable of making a sandwich and driving a car. Machines crunch data and spit out insights in minutes, a task that would take humans months.
Science fiction is quick to emphasize the dark side of robots. In real life, the threat is more nuanced. Many of us are a little puzzled about how to harness AI and machine learning in a way that creates true value in our everyday lives.
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Still, as we stand on the cusp of a new decade, it’s clear that artificial intelligence will play an outsized role in the future of advertising. There’s a reason two of the six technologies on Gartner’s 2019 Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Advertising are artificial intelligence and real-time marketing.
If the 2010s were all about building the foundation (data, technology, trust) of advertising effectiveness, the 2020s will be about the combined power of humans and machines. Here’s why we see the future of advertising as a simple equation: humans + machines = improved advertising effectiveness.
Machines: Decisions at the Right Moment
We’re all working at hyper-speed in a hyper-connected world. What we’re lacking is time. Remember how – at the most critical of moments – R2-D2 could always calculate the right coordinates for Luke?
In the real world, machine learning helps brands make faster decisions. Of course, machines save time and make better decisions by helping us target the right audience and measure a campaign’s outcome.
But machine learning also helps us adjust creative and media while a campaign is in progress – and before all the money is spent. That means advertisers can be more agile and deliver the right message to their target audience. The ability to refine campaign mid-flight not only makes advertising more effective, but more efficient as well.
The Irreplaceable Human Element
In Philip K. Dick’s sci-fi novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the androids are so human-like that it’s impossible to identify them without a physical test. That world doesn’t yet exist, as anyone who has chatted with an online bot or an automated response system can attest.
Humans crave connection with other humans – and they’re quick to pick up on the difference, especially in advertising. More than ever, people are demanding authenticity from brands. Advertisers need to be mindful that as much as technology helps us find the right consumers, but it can’t make the human connection for us.
We often talk about the art and science of marketing. The science of marketing provides us with rich signals about consumers, their intentions, and the emotions we can tap into. The art of marketing and advertising is the human side of the equation.
Machines tell us where to focus our efforts, but only humans understand the nuances of behavior and emotion in a way that enables them to develop creative that connects and influences. More than ever, in a world full of noise, being human is what will stand out in today’s digital age.
Human + Machine = Incredible Possibilities
One of the gifts of science fiction is that it shows us the possibilities. Star Trek gave us the flip phone (though we’re still waiting for Scotty to “beam us up”). The novel, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, gave us the submarine. In his dystopian novel, Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury alluded to ear buds and bluetooth headsets in his description of “sea shells” and “thimble radios” tucked cozily inside the ear.
It’s one thing to invent, another to innovate. Invention requires creative thought to dream the possibilities. Innovation uses knowledge – of a market, a process, a need – built over time to transform how things are done.
The way forward is human and machine working together. With the right human expertise, advertisers can leverage AI and ML to understand the critical elements of advertising effectiveness.
As Tara Walpert Levy, VP of Agency and Brand Solutions at Google, writes, “When you get to know your audience on a deeper level and understand who they are and what matters to them, you can uncover unexpected insights and reach them in moments when they’re most engaged and receptive.”
But that’s just a start. How will advertising change in the next 10 years? The human and machine partnership will help brands deliver a more nuanced and meaningful customer experience.
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Beyond that, there will be advances in advertising effectiveness that we can’t quite imagine yet. Think of all of the things we take for granted today that didn’t exist 10 years ago but have transformed our daily lives: the iPad, Apple Watch, Instagram, Uber, Snapchat, Pinterest, Bitcoin, smart speakers, and so many more. It’s all but certain that by the 2030’s, we’ll be delivering and consuming advertising in entirely new ways.
We’re certain of one thing: The most successful advertisers will be the ones who find the right balance between human and machine.
Credit: Google News