How will AI influence marketing in 2023

It’s the question on everybody’s mind: "How will AI disrupt Digital marketing?" It is going to be extremely challenging to tell you exactly how AI will disrupt marketing in 2023, as the field of AI is constantly evolving and its applications in marketing are still being explored. In business and strategy, there’s never been 100% certainty about how things will play out in the long term. There is merely a vision, a sense of where we’re headed and constant attention to the factors that could deter us. For that reason, this article will examine some of the areas where AI is likely to play the most significant role in 2023.

Why the short-term focus? Why not 2030 and beyond? The answer is straightforward: Massive change occurs when innovation and development converge in one space. The nature of these changes and how they will converge is impossible to predict reliably. Therefore, a focus on what’s on the immediate horizon helps us stay in tune and alert to what’s coming. To focus on possible disruptions in digital marketing in 2023 we should look at recent developments and achievements in AI.  This gives us an idea of what people have been working on and the potential applications that they have in mind. When this is known, the next areas to be impacted become easier to predict.

AI Evolves With a Purpose That is, at its Heart, Human.
The purpose of AI is to create algorithms and systems that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as learning, problem-solving, and decision-making. The driving force behind all research is “How can this get done, better and faster” The motivations are intrinsically human. If we ask ourselves - “What do people want?” - we can bet that energy and investment will go into research and development to help us get what we want. 

Apply this to the realm of digital marketing and we can ask ourselves, "What do digital marketers want?"  When we answer this question, it won’t take you long to identify areas where AI is being developed to help marketers do their work better and faster. Here are the areas in which you will experience a change in 2023.

The personalisation dilemma: You are what you do and it’s going to get harder to hide that
It starts with market segmentation. The purpose of segmenting a market is to divide it into smaller more manageable groups of consumers with similar needs, behaviours and characteristics. By identifying and targeting specific segments, businesses can increase the relevance and effectiveness of their marketing efforts and improve their chances of success in the market.

The ethical concern of this is obvious. The more and more personal marketing becomes, the more advertising can potentially encroach on privacy if it is not done in a responsible and transparent way. While personalization can provide a more relevant and engaging experience for consumers, it can also raise concerns about the collection and use of personal data.

We have seen the response to this concern play out in several ways. In recent years we have seen a combination of laws, regulations and technology. In Europe, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulates the collection and use of personal data. Some states in the USA, such as California, have their own privacy laws that are similar to the GDPR. In the USA, the main festal law that governs privacy is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). 

Clearly, as advertisers try harder to gather more personal data, the harder the public pushes back. We can call this the personalisation dilemma. The more personal and targeted advertising is, the more it is resisted.  Still, it’s only ever gone in one direction - businesses continue to understand more and more about their consumers. 

AI will therefore assist marketers to improve the personalization of marketing campaigns and it will need to find ways to do so by a) relying on less collection of personal data and more on the prediction of individuals based on consumer behaviour. In other words, as a consumer, a giant computer will not need to bug your device to know what you want. Your purchases, decisions, web searches and the information you consume are your unique thumbprint.

Consumers behave in predictable ways and with enough data on consumers and their purchasing behaviour, it will become AI will be continually able to target. AI algorithm will therefore continually allow allowing marketers to better target their campaigns to specific groups of consumers and deliver ever-more personalized messages. 2023 will be no different; expect more personalised targeting in more spaces.

The quest for the personal customer experience 

In 2023 you should expect to see improvements in the customer experience. In recent years, 
AI-powered chatbots have been punted as the answer to the customer experience, but we can confidently state that humanity wouldn’t agree that this has been the outcome.  Chatbots fail to deliver a personalised customer experience. Why?
  1. They have limited functionality: Chatbots have been designed to fulfil low-level tasks, such as screening/routing enquiries. Their use of natural language tries to provide the impression that they are human but their inability to answer even slightly complex questions betrays their lack of intelligence and empathy. This realisation infuriates people within minutes.
  2. It's not personal, at all: Chatbots have traditionally been unable to provide personalised responses and this makes the interaction feel impersonal and less engaging.
  3. They are poorly designed: We’ve all seen this - the chatbot asks you a question and offers you 3 choices as your answer. Too often, the answer is “none of the above you idiot!” 
  4. They do not understand natural language: Chatbots still notoriously identify keywords or phrases. They do not interpret what the customer is trying to articulate. 
  5. Little to no interaction with other systems:  The chatbot is just that - a chatbot. If it does not interact with other databases, it does not have the necessary information to even begin to solve your problem.

There is most certainly an incentive to improve what Chatbots can do. And if you did not already know, there is some fantastic research being done in this area. To discuss that, let’s take a look at what’s being done by OpenAI.

OpenAI’s ChatGPT creates a flurry

OpenAI, a San Fransisco-based AI company was founded in 2015 by Elon Musk and Sam Altman. Musk is the personality behind Tesla, SpaceX, and recently Twitter. Altman is a computer scientist and investor who has invested in several high-profile tech start-ups such as Airbnb and Reddit.  These two tech titans have been behind one of the largest AI research projects ever seen and the information that they have been using in their learning models has been gathered over decades.  In late 2022 OpenAI released ChatGPT in beta to the public and people have been blown away by its capabilities. It's the first time we have seen something like this made freely available to the general public.

ChatGPT has presented the first publicly available AI chatbot that emphasises dialogue. It offers the most human conversation experience ever seen. And most importantly, even in its beta state, it answers questions. It’s one of those innovations that will drive innovation. People will find uses for it. 

If you have not already done so, go now and experiment with the capabilities of ChatGPT. Ask yourself, as a marketer, how can this help me?  Write down your answers - pick your top 3 and you have 3 ways AI will influence marketing for you in 2023. 

Artwork and image generation

Expect more interesting art to come from graphic designers in 2023. We’ve enjoyed AI in editing and enhancing for several years already. AI-powered logo design is old news, as is palette generation, but what will most likely make its way onto more and more web content is AI-generated imagery.

AI algorithms can be used to generate original images based on a designer's input and preferences. This can be useful for designers who want to quickly create a large number of images, or who want to experiment with new ideas and concepts. Stock images move over - we’re looking forward to the photorealistic and artistic creations originating from the likes of the Midjourney Bot and DALL-E.

On Discord, where the Midjourney bot handles thousands of requests every minute, the flurry of activity reveals who uses it and what they intend to use it for - and it's a picture of things to. Go and check it out.

Here, take a look at Midjourney's attempt at originating artwork for my request:
"AI being at a coffee shop on a mac writing a blog"

Nice work Midjourney - that's pretty much what I had in mind.  Well, not quite, but it is now!

How should AI influence your marketing strategy in 2023?

There is a tendency among some people to become distracted by new and shiny things, such as the latest gadgets or trends - it’s called “shiny object syndrome.” Shiny object syndrome causes businesses to constantly chase after the latest fads or trends rather than focusing on their core mission or goals. 

In the They Ask, You Answer universe, we focus on (actually, obsess over) what the customer wants. Our goal is to make it easy for prospective customers to find the information they need to make their purchasing decisions.  We focus on educating the market and on building trust.  These are guiding business philosophies and they are deeply engrained in human consciousness and have been since the dawn of time.

AI is a very long way away from developing the type of intimacy and loyalty that can be achieved with honest, transparent writing or 1:1 personal videos. AI will not encourage you to be transparent about pricing or to be bold about the questions you answer. AI will certainly not add to take away from the trust you have built with your consumer. 

Enjoy taking note of marketing developments, but put the customer first. And, if you find a tool that will help you do that, use it. If not, look, be fascinated - but never distracted. Forge on with your journey to They Ask, You Answer mastery, which in itself is so revolutionary that few are bold enough to embrace it.
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