October 21, 2017

The job of managing the amount of data available to marketers has become too big for humans alone to handle. If marketers haven’t yet handed off some data management tasks to machines, they undoubtedly will soon. Allen Nance, global CMO at marketing automation firm Emarsys, spoke with eMarketer’s Sean Creamer about what artificial intelligence (AI) does best, while leaving human marketers to refocus on connecting with consumers.

eMarketer: Big data is immensely valuable to marketers, but it’s not easy for humans to scale. Why is AI the answer?

Allen Nance: Every CMO I speak with knows that human-driven personalization doesn’t scale. The human brain can no longer siphon through all the data and execute campaigns in real time to drive personalization at scale. We’ve simply moved beyond the human capacity.

eMarketer: What tasks done by humans are streamlined through marketing AI?

Nance: Data management. Marketers should no longer be importing and exporting data, building segments or dragging and dropping.

“The concept of dragging and dropping is a series of guesses that aren’t likely in real time or personalized to the consumer.”

eMarketer: Does that mean that drag-and-drop campaigns done by marketers themselves are dead?

Nance: The concept of dragging and dropping is a series of guesses that aren’t likely in real time or personalized to the consumer. It doesn’t mean the marketer isn’t working hard, but they should no longer have to say, “I’m going to send an email to customers and if they don’t open it in seven days, I’m going to send a text message.”

eMarketer: What are the machine’s strengths in this process?

Nance: The machine is not only better suited to decide the timing of specific messaging in real time and at scale, it is also better suited to decide what channel to message consumers on. The machine potentially knows which channel consumers are interacting with and can deliver a message to them in real time—no human, no build-a-campaign, no drag and drop.

eMarketer: Are we close to a time when the machine can take over other human tasks, like development of creative?

Nance: We are years away from the machine beating the human marketer at strategy and content development. The machine doesn’t create content, but it can personalize the content better than the human can in real time, and at scale.

“The machine doesn’t create content, but the machine can personalize the content better than the human can in real time, and at scale.”

eMarketer: What’s an example of marketing AI being applied today in the real world?

Nance: The ecommerce space is tailor-made for data science, machine learning and AI because consumers have profiles, personas and repeat purchases. We’ve all gone to a website and seen products change based on our behavior or previous purchases. Ecommerce is the best use case today because data is so readily accessible.

eMarketer: What’s the ideal outcome of marketers relinquishing data management to AI?

Nance: Instead of marketers spending 80% of their time on data, segmenting, dragging and dropping, etc., they can spend that time on strategy, content and creative.

Courtesy of eMarketer

 

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