Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Marketers seem to have a built-in aversion to artificial intelligence (AI), with the mere mention of the term bringing to mind images of ill-intentioned robots built to take over their jobs. It’s time for a reframe, says Sturae Hickley, ad operations manager at Mark1, who believes that far from replacing marketers, AI will assist with the more labour-intensive aspects of marketing and will most certainly make life more convenient for consumers.

Hickley cites Jack Ma, co-founder and executive chairman of the Alibaba Group, who describes AI as knowledge based. Humans, says Ma, possess wisdom, which comes from experience. Wisdom and experience, however, are two things that AI will simply never possess.

With this in mind, says Hickley, AI presents far greater opportunities than it does threats, despite self-driving cars, Flippy the Burger Flipper and Sophia the Robot.

As a consumer, Hickley says she welcomes the convenience AI will bring to her fast-paced lifestyle. AI is already prevalent on Facebook and on programmatic and search platforms, and the like. “AI and machine learning rely heavily on data, which is at the core of these platforms,” she says.

The big take-out:

The role of data will grow as more and more technologies such as AI become central to our everyday lives, bringing with them increased convenience.

AI is certainly not a new idea and though advertisers are harnessing it in their work, Hickley believes the industry may not yet entirely understand it. Yet AI is already part of our daily lives and its prevalence will only increase over time.

In a world where data is at the core of everything we do, AI is but one of the digital trends taking the industry by storm, Hickley points out. “There are so many trends to talk about in the data space – blockchain, ads.txt and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), to name but a few. What will be most prominent globally in 2018 will be the official introduction of GDPR in the EU in May. Similar to the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act which is soon to take effect in SA, GDPR will have far-reaching consequences for marketers,” she says.

It’s a marketing landscape where brands need to know their target markets and position themselves accordingly, using data at the core of every marketing strategy, she advises, adding that consumer relationships with brands are based on their backgrounds, financial status, aspirations and influences.

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