Will robots run your future marketing campaign?

Thanks to the latest developments in Generative AI, by the end of the year marketers could find themselves in a position where their campaigns, blogs and even emails can virtually write themselves. The consensus too is that this marks an initial step in the journey to a much wider industry shift towards AI-based functionality. But what exactly does this mean for the future of key marketing? Here, Alistair Dent, Chief Strategy Officer at  Profusion explores this evolving development and some of the key pros and cons to consider.

While there can be no denying that the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has already made waves across various industries, it’s only more recently that its potential to radically transform marketing and even replace digital marketers has really come to the fore.

One of the main reasons for this is the huge breakthroughs made in the Generative AI field. If you’re unfamiliar with Generative AI tools such as GPT-3, they are advanced pattern recognition tools that can create text, music, speech, code, or even images and videos and ensure they look similar to existing works.

Given an initial prompt – for example ‘write a blog article about digital learning’ – the result is text that usually, with a little editing, can be suitable for use. Equally, you could ask - ‘paint like Van Gogh’ – and, so long there is access to enough paintings by the artist for the AI to learn the characteristic traits, you should end up with an almost  exact replica.

Inherently though, complexities surrounding prompt engineering (i.e. creating the right input to get the right output) has presented a major drawback. In most cases, this will be why some generative text writing style or image generation can be poor and even contain inherent bias.

But 2023 will continue to see this change. Of course, last November marked a major step forward for this movement as OpenAI released i ChatGPT – a ground breaking chatbot-style technology that is able to talk to you in scarily (though not faultless) human-like language, and answer almost any questions you might have.

Most crucial in this, it constitutes a major leap forward in prompt engineering - thanks to its unique ability to understand input prompts to enable a much simpler, human input to generate a reasonable output. Even able to even write essays, articles, poems, lyrics and computer programmes, it constitutes one of the most powerful language processing models ever made  and a blueprint of the innovation transition to come. 

But while certainly exciting, this breakthrough is also tinged with growing apprehension amongst the marketing community as it ponders -  is there a chance that a robot might steal my job in the near future? And if marketing became automated, would it be for the better?

I would argue that marketing automation certainly offers many pros. As with most sectors, there are many marketing tasks that can be mundane, repetitive and require little skill set. Think endless proofreading of marketing brochures and other collateral, mind-numbing admin work, updating databases and managing click-Ads. AI has the ability to tackle all of this quicker and better, so you can utilise staff in the most productive ways and save time and resources in the process.

Digital assistants, such as chatbots, can also prove hugely beneficial in helping you provide a seamless customer contact 24 hours a day – along with detailed, actionable records of your customers' greatest queries and paint points. What’s most attractive perhaps though is AI’s ability, with programming and machine learning, to tackle huge volumes of data and provide the visibility and insights needed for you to make better strategic decisions in all areas of customer experience, targeting and future forecasting.

However, that is not to say that marketing could ever become the preserve of just machines. After all, the marketing field is a highly creative one, and no current technology, including AI, can replace humankind’s capability of original thought and ingenuity. Inherently, any AI is trained only on pre-existing material, therefore it can only create new content that is similar to that work. This means that it cannot be impulsive or spontaneous, generate fresh ideas or invent anything. 

Ultimately, while it is easy to see why the marketing sector might be inclined to view AI’s growing presence with a certain degree of caution, the reality is that it is happening. And with the ability to take on the mundane and monotonous so that marketers can focus on the area that, chances are, got them into marketing in the first place – the creative process – and it might not be a bad thing.