Ask the Expert



Q: What is artificial intelligence and why, as a marketer, should I pay attention to it?

A: Wired Magazine co-founder, writer and digital visionary Kevin Kelly tells the story of when, in 2002, he met with Google's co-founder Larry Page. It was before Google's IPO, and when the company only focused on search.

Kelly asked Page: "Larry, I still don't get it. There are so many search companies. Web search, for free? Where does that get you?" Page replied (testament of an extraordinary vision): "Oh, we're really making an AI." 

AI (short for Artificial Intelligence), is defined as "the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages."

Kelly, who in 2016 delivered an outstanding TED Talk about AI, is convinced that over the next 20 years our inclination for making things smarter and smarter will have a profound impact on nearly everything we do, bringing us to a second Industrial Revolution.

Differently than simply providing machines with a set of instructions so they can automate tasks, Artificial Intelligence dynamically improves learning the more it is utilized, based on mathematical algorithms. It's teaching us how to fish versus giving the man a fish. This, in my opinion, is the most revolutionary concept. To put it into perspective, and as an example, every time we click on a search-generated link, we're training the Google AI.

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Nowadays, Artificial Intelligence is suddenly everywhere: in hospitals, where it's used to diagnose X-rays, in legal offices, used to go through legal evidence, self-driving cars, drone-based deliveries, video games, digital assistants (Amazon Echo, Google Home), and, of course … marketing.

Doug Dome, a marketing consultant and adjunct professor at University of Chicago's Graham School who has been studying data's impact on marketing for 30 years, says marketers should be excited about the growth of AI, not only because it could save them precious time, but also because it can bring companies closer to consumers, saving effort on the business and consumer side.

How is AI going to improve marketers' lives? Think of Google AdWords for a second. Its recent Google Marketing Next was loaded with Artificial Intelligence, all aimed to give digital marketers better targeting and better results: Custom In-Market Audiences, Life Event Targeting, Customization of Ads for generic searches based on users’ intent, and Data-Driven Attribution Modeling are all heavily relying on machine learning.  

Does it look like Artificial Intelligence is going to replace marketers and marketing teams? Not at all. In my opinion, AI is going to make marketing more efficient. At the condition that marketers embrace the change, think holistically, and understand that they now have the ability (and the necessity) to fully understand their target audience and make smarter and faster decisions.

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