Machine learning is bringing us self-driving cars, improved medical diagnostics, and machine translation, but can it improve marketing decisions? It can. Machine learning models predict extremely well, are scalable to “big data,” and are a natural fit to rich media such as text, images, audio, and video. Examples include identification of customer needs from online data, accurate prediction of consumer response to advertising, personalized pricing, and product recommendations. But without a soul, the applications of machine learning are limited. Consumer behavior and competitive strategies are nuanced and richly described by formal theory. To learn across applications, to be accurate for “what-if” and “but-for” applications, and to advance knowledge, machine learning needs theory and a soul. The brightest future is based on the synergy of what the machine can do well and what humans do well. We provide examples and predictions for the future.
Credit: Google News