Report: Marketers like AI-based tools, but think they already have them
Forrester Consulting study confirms the idea that marketers want AI but don’t yet understand what it offers.
Marketers sure love them some artificial intelligence (AI).
Even if they’re not quite sure what it is or whether they are already using it.
And that’s a key conclusion from another recent study, conducted by Forrester Consulting for Adgorithms, which has created an AI-driven marketing platform called Albert. (Forrester author Nick Phelps told me that, while Adgorithms had input on the report, Forrester had the final editorial control.)
The study, “AI: The Next Generation of Marketing,” conducted in-depth surveys with 150 marketing executives. The key finding:
“Forrester found that confusion and misunderstanding of AI-driven marketing is quite prevalent today. Indeed, many marketers in our study have a very narrow view of current advanced contextual marketing capabilities, much less around AI-driven marketing tools that can make these contextual programs considerably more efficient and effective, while reducing the complexities marketers face in executing and orchestrating digital interactions. However, when the benefits of AI-driven marketing were proposed to them, they were overwhelmingly likely to find these benefits appealing.”
For Forrester, AI is about “having autonomy, making ongoing improvements, and delivering powerful insights while using less manual time and bandwidth.”
Unsurprisingly, an overwhelming 94 percent of respondents reacted positively to the idea of a tool with “continuous, autonomous optimization across channels,” and 88 percent reacted positively to a tool that reduces time required for preparing reports and analysis.
Of course, it would be news if marketers reacted negatively to either of these propositions. This report focuses quite a bit on the idea that full-funnel contextual marketing is one of the most useful results of AI in marketing tools. But it then notes that marketers mistakenly think they’re already conducting contextual marketing, when they’re actually conducting targeted, programmatic advertising and marketing designed for top-of-funnel customer acquisition.
Contextual marketing, in context
True contextual marketing, the report implies, requires a high level of platform intelligence in order to ingest, analyze and utilize all the data from all levels of the marketing/sales funnel — particularly lower down the funnel, when more is known about customers, so contextual efforts can be better informed.
One source of the confusion could be that marketing tools have been selling for years the idea of targeting “the right information at the right time to the right person,” which is a good shorthand for context.
They’ve been doing it largely through if/then rules set up by marketers, while AI-driven platforms, such as Albert, are intended to make those decisions on the fly, based on patterns and insights immediately derived from incoming data.
The clearer promise of AI involves autonomous platforms that make many of their own decisions — based on key performance indicators and business rules — and that generate insights from data well beyond the questions that marketers typically ask. Full-funnel contextual marketing can result from that autonomy and those insights, as can other benefits.
According to the report, the key issue blocking AI adoption…
“… is the perception of what AI-driven marketing really is and what it isn’t. Over 40 percent of marketers in our study told us they thought they had adopted AI-driven marketing today, reflecting a belief that their targeting capabilities and automation meant that AI was operating behind the scenes. Programmatic media buying, which leverages DSPs and runs in part on machine learning, can serve as a good introduction to some of the capabilities that AI-driven marketing will be ushering in over the next few years. However, it doesn’t exhibit the full promise of what it can truly deliver across the customer life cycle.”
In other words, the main obstacle to marketers’ understanding of what AI-driven marketing tools can really do is that said tools have not been marketed correctly.
Maybe AI-in-marketing’s first order of business should be to devise a better way to sell itself.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech Today. Staff authors are listed here.