Since time immemorial, “technological unemployment” has been a concern for anyone threatened by new tech that could replace them and their job. Whether it’s manual labor being replaced by a machine (think weaving or agriculture), or an algorithm trading on the stock market, the concerns in every industry are real.
So what about marketers? As more and more of the traditional aspects of marketing become automated, where will we all be in a decade? Are marketers needed to manage PPC campaigns, craft email comms or be creative in any way anymore? We asked three AI and marketing experts the question “Will we all be redundant in 20 years?” Here’s what they said.
TOM CHEESEWRIGHT Applied Futurist
No I don’t think so. The nature of marketing is always going to return back to creative. Think about what’s happening now with search engine marketing. The better Google’s algorithms get, and the more automated the buying and placing of ads becomes, the better the algorithms get at differentiating the quality content that should be at the top of the list. The same is true for other areas of marketing. A lot of the stuff in our lives gets automated now. No one enjoys shopping for toilet paper or tins of tomatoes. But we all have to do it. So we can outsource this, leaving us to get on with the fun stuff, buying the steak and the red wine…
So the marketers of the future will have a whole new set of signals to analyze and will have to understand how the machine is making decisions and what signals drive those machine-made decisions.
Machines are rapidly getting better at filtering out machine-made content. I don’t see spam anymore; it never enters my inbox. So machines are good at identifying the stuff that I just don’t want to read. A lot more marketing will be automated, of course, in the future. But the stuff that we’ll talk about, the stuff we’ll remember, will be human.
ANDY CRELLIN Head of Data Science, ResponseTap
AI is already starting to make the lives of marketers easier, whether that’s through programmatic media buying or automation platforms.
In future, AI will give marketers the potential to really take advantage of intuitive personalization and develop true one-to-one, consumer-first marketing.
Yes parts of marketing will ultimately disappear – like the typesetters during the publishing revolution of the 80s and 90s. However, like writers and artists, marketing will still need creative thinking and AI is quite a way from this yet (no matter what the automatic article writers say!).
NICK ASHMORE Head of Marketing, ResponseTap
Let’s forget about the Turing test for a minute. For me, until an AI application can be creative, an “Ogilvy test” if you will, our jobs are safe. The best creative is often counter-intuitive; it doesn’t conform or follow conventions. It can often be silly, left of field, and challenging the status quo. Would AI ever recommend direct mail for example, which by its nature is more difficult to measure than online forms of advertising?
The universal truth, which rings true in today’s martech-saturated marketing departments, is that the technology will, for the foreseeable future, need a human to manage and oversee it and while that’s the case, it needs to be kept simple in order to be utilized.
Technology works best when it empowers humans and reduces the man-hours and labour involved, just as the Industrial Revolution and mechanization did 200 years ago. Think about how Call Intelligence is empowering marketers, helping them make better decisions. This is AI and humans working in tandem with each other for better results.
So, fingers-crossed we’re okay for the time being; we don’t need to manically upskill any time soon. But with software now writing copy for instance, it might be worth keeping some other options in the back of our minds…