It used to be AR, VR & drones - now its AI that dominates the marketing landscape.  From content creation to customer segmentation, AI can do it all and seems to be the ultimate marketing tool. But is AI really the best thing since sliced bread & what are the implications of relying too heavily on AI in marketing?

AI has undeniable benefits. It performs tasks faster and more accurately than humans - generating headlines, copy & logo’s quicker than most marketers can write the words ‘brief’ or ‘prompt’. It can handle vast datasets, analysing sentiment, behaviour, or feedback in the blink of an eye. Enabling marketers to reach more customers with personalized content – like never before. AI can generate ideas and solutions, designing logos, layouts & even campaigns. Helping marketers get their messages ‘out there’ at speed in an era when ‘done is better than perfect’ and ‘first mover advantage’ has never been more paramount.

There are some practical risks; AI poses ethical challenges around privacy, transparency and accountability. How do marketers ensure the responsible use of customer data and consent? How do they clarify how AI works and its functions? How can they ensure that AI remains fair and unbiased?

AI lacks emotion and empathy – both essential for building trust and loyalty with customers. How do marketers balance the use of AI with human interaction? How do we ensure that AI does not alienate or annoy customers?

AI also creates a ‘differentiation dilemma’. When all brands use same tools and techniques – it’s a race to the bottom. How do brands differentiate from competitors & build unique value propositions and experiences for their customers?

Black Mirror creator, Charlie Brooker, says “AI is not ‘messy’ enough to replace creative people”. This is good & bad news for marketers.  AI cannot match human originality, imagination and meaning. AI emulates existing patterns and ideas, but doesn’t invent new ideas or understand their significance and value. Human creativity is based on messy and complex processes involving emotions, intuition and inspiration. Very hard for machines to replicate. 

Marketers (and agencies) must learn to leverage the strengths of both humans and AI. 

Human creativity provides novel, offbeat and engaging content that stirs human imagination, while AI empowers data analysis, optimization and personalization. Generative AI is a powerful tool to augment human creativity, it can promote divergent thinking, challenge inbuilt bias & evaluate ideas. 

So, as Amazon continue to figure out ‘drone deliveries’ & the metaverse continues to elude everyone, have we reached Peak AI? Maybe not, but now is the time to ‘double down’ on our use of AI & take marketing to a new level. The crafters will embrace the power of AI while the hyperbole recedes. The less we hear about AI the more transformative it will become.

Ian will be writing a column for MAD//Insight regularly throughout the year. You can watch the panel he chaired at MAD//Fest London this summer on our YouTube channel.