Robot working on AI in marketing on a laptop

AI in Marketing: How will it affect your agency relationships?

Artificial intelligence (AI) has stepped straight into the limelight thanks largely to the remarkable capabilities of ChatGPT, a generative AI (GAI) interface that took the world by storm and showed  exactly how impressive this technology can be. AI in marketing is proving to be an invaluable asset – a tool that can help agencies and brands enhance their strategies and approaches, streamline content, manage deadlines and smooth over the rough edges of campaigns with ease.

Of course, there is controversy. No radical change at this scale would be without a measure of concern. There are ethical and legal questions surrounding the use of AI in marketing, and, of course, there is the pervasive fear that it will remove people from their jobs. 

But, before looking at the problems, RightData suggests asking what does AI bring to the digital table?

Understanding AI

There is AI, the term used to describe any form of artificial intelligence application and solution, then there is GAI and AGI. GAI, also known as generative AI, is the use of intelligent algorithms to provide content and information that’s been curated from multiple sources and can be delivered across multiple platforms and media. ChatGPT is an example of a content-driven GAI while Dall-E is an example of an image-driven GAI. 

This form of AI has been perhaps the biggest driver of AI adoption over the past few years, particularly in 2023. According to McKinsey’s State of AI in 2022, most companies are using AI to optimise their services in some way. The same survey also found that AI adoption has surged over the past five years alongside investment into AI solutions – 63% expect this to increase over the next three years.

AGI, on the other hand, is Artificial General Intelligence, and is a far more complex technology that’s more closely associated with thinking machines that can reason, converse and evolve. This is the technology that most people think of when they think AI – robots that can think. However, it is nowhere near a level that could reasonably be described as intelligent as a human being.

AI in Marketing

It is very likely that you are already using AI in marketing. It has slipped quietly into the digital cracks, providing marketing teams, brands and agencies with smart support and improving efficiencies that you probably can’t imagine living without already. 

It is also expected to drive around 45% of the total global economy according to a PwC report on AI within the business. 

So how is it moving into marketing? Here are some of the most interesting use cases for AI in marketing and how your agency could harness its potential:

  • Social media – you can use AI-powered platforms to enhance your social media listening while massively reducing agency workloads.
  • Content generation – perhaps the most well-known and controversial application of AI in marketing this year, content creators were shoved into the limelight by ChatGPT and now you can choose from many others. Whilst they can be useful as a jumping off point, they aren’t a final solution – yet!
  • Omnichannel campaign management – many leading brands have optimised their omnichannel services with AI to make them faster, more accessible and more powerful. 
  • Data analysis for customer insights and campaign optimisation – there is an impressive number of solutions in this space that will automate processes, improve decision-making, provide insights, and help create more agile marketing strategies that are capable of anticipating customer behaviours. 
  • Real-time optimisation – you can use AI in marketing to interact with customers, to personalise customer interactions, to harness insights that change decision making, all in real time and helping you you to move faster when it comes to campaign and data management.

AI IN MARKETING: An ethical conversation

There are many concerns around AI in marketing. People are worried they will lose their jobs to a machine that can write faster and cheaper, analyse faster and cheaper, design faster and cheaper,  and decide faster and cheaper than they ever could. A machine that never gets tired, never stops learning, and never argues back. 

Agencies and brands need to be aware of how their use of AI in marketing could affect perceptions and relationships within the company. It’s also worth recognising that  AI, while accomplished and impressive, cannot replace the agility and creativity of human thought. 

AI in marketing also raises ethical concerns. Firstly, there is the issue of privacy and data protection. AI algorithms often rely on vast amounts of personal data to target individuals with personalised advertisements, which can raise concerns about data collection, consent, and potential misuse. Additionally, there is the risk of algorithmic bias, where AI systems may perpetuate discriminatory practices by unintentionally favouring or excluding certain groups based on factors like race, gender, or socioeconomic status. Transparency is another key concern, as the complexity of AI algorithms makes it difficult for consumers to understand how their data is being used and how decisions are made. Plus, there is the potential for AI-generated content to deceive consumers, blurring the line between authentic human-generated content and AI-generated content. These ethical issues highlight the need for clear regulations, transparency, and accountability in the use of AI in marketing.

Even the machines are aware of the risks – the above paragraph was written by ChatGPT, and it isn’t wrong!

It’s also important to consider transparency within your agency relationships when it comes to AI in marketing. You need to know how they are using it, where they are using it, the impact it will have (if any) on your costs, and who will be using it. This visibility needs to run through to who will be working on your projects and where they are based so that any costs you’re incurring, with or without AI, are clearly aligned with expectations and benchmarks. 

AI in marketing – a final thought

AI in marketing should be seen as a useful tool that can help clients and agencies build better campaigns using data to refine their approaches and strategies. It cannot replace the ingenuity of people, nor can it replace the connections and relationships that evolve between agencies and brands. It’s currently an enhancement to the ways in which brands and agencies connect and collaborate.

Technology continues to change the way the world works and can be harnessed as an evolution that allows for agencies and clients to transform their approaches to creativity and campaigns. It should be managed within very clear guidelines that are articulated from the outset and should include revisions around AI in marketing, credit to AI-generated content, examples of how AI has worked (and not worked), the ROI of AI, and the ethical and legal considerations around how AI in marketing is being used.

With these parameters in place along with an open mind and a commitment to adapt the use of AI in marketing if situations change, agencies and clients could benefit from what AI has to offer today.