In this opinion piece, Mick O’Brien (pictured below), Datorama’s managing director for the Asia-Pacific region, argues that marketers’ must not view investment in artificial intelligence (AI) as a replacement for creativity or human decision-making; rather, as an instrument that ensures they never miss a beat.
Facebook and Google continue to monopolise digital ad spend in APAC, with 67 per cent of total expenditure predicted to go to both platforms over the next year, according to Salesforce’s Digital Advertising 2020 report. As both platforms dominate marketer’s ad spend, professionals find themselves heavily relying on Facebook for data analytics and customer segmentation.
Take, for example, Honda Australia, who recently used Facebook data to identify 80,000 customers who had been driving with potentially deadly airbags. At first that sounds good, but there’s just one problem: it happened nine years after the vehicle’s recall was initiated.
Recent changes to the Facebook News Feed algorithms have sidelined messaging from advertisers, brands and publishers, allowing for more meaningful content to be shared between users. Consequentially, a drop in engagement for businesses utilising this channel is expected.
Marketers must re-evaluate content strategies and be open to new ways of analysing data.
Future-proofing your business with AI
Customer journeys are continuing to become increasingly complex, placing more and more pressure on marketers to prove ROI with tighter budgets. Buzzed-about advances in data analysis tools, built into channels like Facebook and Google Analytics, have stakeholders assuming marketing teams can seamlessly report on the evolving landscape they operate in. However, spend is moving away from these platforms. Marketers are spending an increasing amount of time analysing spreadsheets from various data sources, including website analytics tools, CRM systems and email campaign management tools. This is likely to continue as marketers turn their attention away from Facebook ad spend.
But, there’s good news. The processes used to connect and analyse marketing data are rapidly evolving. Stagnant budgets and more sophisticated customer demands mean more marketing technologies and tools are required within marketing stacks. This in turn means more diverse data sources in more formats to integrate – today, next month, and for the foreseeable future. Having the right platform to enable this change is key, and marketers must explore new technology to make these processes as fluid as possible.
Ultimately, investment in AI and machine learning is a must for optimising marketing efforts. That’s because there has been one constant in marketing over the past decade: rapid change. AI-powered systems improve marketing intelligence, providing marketers with real benefits such as unifying data from various sources, as well as detecting trends, anomalies and insights from data sets. This enables marketers to focus on areas where their passions truly lie, focusing on creativity and strategy development.
Deriving actionable insights
Between the new culture of accountability and the barrage of tools for analysis at their disposal, marketers’ roles are becoming increasingly data-driven. The time invested in data analysis is often exacerbated by the reality that marketers are not trained data analysts, nor have they entered the field of marketing to become experts in this particular skillset. Marketers’ passions typically lie in assisting businesses to think outside the box, ultimately driving customer engagement and sales.
In order to meet business objectives, marketers must make smarter decisions on a more frequent basis – across the entire customer journey. Instead of relying on a labour-intensive, manual effort that can miss critical findings, AI-driven insights can derive powerful, actionable results. Equipped with AI technologies, marketers can leave less opportunities on the table – not only by detecting what’s moving and shaking marketing performance, but also determining why this is happening and how it can be actioned.
As marketing is being revolutionised to deal with the new pace of doing business, it’s essential for leaders to recognise that AI is not just an empty buzzword, but a necessity.
Ultimately, investment in AI must not be viewed as a replacement for creativity or human decision-making; rather, as an instrument that ensures marketers never miss a beat. Amidst the potential drop of brand engagement across Facebook, CMOs must continue to defend their ever-shrinking budgets. With marketers being held more accountable, AI is rising to the occasion to meet those challenges.