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Why AI Is Not A Panacea

A solution or remedy for all difficulties or diseases

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

The digital marketing world is dancing in the rhythm of artificial intelligence and machine learning, following a good five years of indulging with the idea of programmatic buying and real-time bidding.

Artificial intelligence is reshaping the digital marketing space, with both Google and Facebook making strides in developing and enhancing their capabilities around automated bidding and machine learning. In fact, we can now rely on automated bidding strategies to optimise our digital marketing campaigns. The system will simply adjust bids up or down based on the likelihood of the click to result in a conversion. Practically this means that Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc., can take on the role of finding customers for our business.

Well, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is…

Although every major supplier will claim the opposite, AI is not always able to optimise digital campaigns as well as a human. In fact, I would argue that this may never be possible. This is because in marketing there are too many moving variables, which cannot always be quantified through data.

While machines can learn which device, time of the day, day of week, gender, age-group, or location produces the best results, they will never be able to understand the effects of:

  • Great copywriting
  • Amazing creatives
  • Emotional connection
  • Price sensitivity
  • Competitive USPs
  • Brand Equity
  • Brand Values
  • Brand Story

and more…

On another note, while we tend to glorify machines, we are heavily underestimating the evolution of the human brain. In this game, machines are not the smartest ducks in the pond. Humans are still on top of the food chain.

The human race has already become “immune” to pop ups, promotional emails and display ads and we are now learning to:

  • Ignore remarketing ads
  • Ignore discounts and promos
  • and to a large extent to ignore advertising altogether

Artificial intelligence may be able to adjust our bids automatically, but it can never sell a product or service. Brand will. Machine learning will soon be able to optimise budgets on the go, but it will never be able to convert a lead to a customer. Trust will.

As marketers we love to get excited with everything new! We fell in love with Google, Social, Programmatic, Chatbots and so on, but only to realise that technology is only a means to an end.

Similarly, AI is not a panacea. Technology will make it easier to get in front of the right customers – it already has. From there, human connection takes over. A great story and a brand you can relate to will never be replicated by algorithms. On another note, since this article is written during the global COVID19 pandemic, my prediction is that human relationships will become the new luxury.

Once again, as a marketing community we tend to over-emphasise on the effects that COVID19 has on digital transformation while we fail to observe or even discuss the effects that prolong isolation will have on human behaviour. Because today, business scarcity equals value, and the scarcer a resource is, the more valuable it becomes and if humanity lacks one thing now, it is not technology. It is a human connection. 

Zoom is booming. Live streaming, Instagram TV and live webinars are growing in popularity. Radio is suddenly reborn. The future of technology is and will always be human-centric.

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Sotirios Seridis
Written By

Sotirios (one of the most difficult names you’ll come across in your life), lived in London, Dubai and Singapore, working for some of the world’s leading media agencies (WPP and Omnicom). Along the way he built 2 digital performance departments from the ground-up and worked with clients such as Unilever, Volkswagen and Google. Currently, he is a Digital Marketing Instructor at General Assembly and the founder of XYZ Lab. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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