AI is becoming the buzzword of the year, we can hear it almost in any advertising article. All of the big brands are pushing AI as an element of their brand to appear innovative and up to date. Whether it’s just a PR stunt to start people talking or an actual integration in the brand system - AI is becoming a big part of digital marketing. And it’s true a really clever integration that enhances the brand message can be fascinating more so now than in the future, purely because we will get more and more of it. And there’s nothing bad about that, don’t get me wrong, I think it should be promoted even more. However, in the current world of digital advertising, there are a couple of areas where I see AI applications spiraling in the wrong direction.
First one being the classic riding the wave application which in a nutshell just takes a marketing or advertising execution and wraps it in an AI foil. The application itself could very well live on its own without the need of having AI hacked into it or could use another more tradition application to elevate it further. And I'm not talking about a one off PR stunt which in my eyes is only a natural occurrence when there is so much hype built around it. It's more about prolonged and actual long term marketing strategies. For instance, a brand could say they are utilizing AI to deliver personalized greetings on twitter, however saying that they are all personally written by a brand advocate can be in some cases more useful to deliver a brand message. And of course in both cases, they will be generated automatically but the technology behind it is not truly an AI and neither did the brand advocate write it himself, it just changes the message the tone of the communication and it's easy to assume that whacking an AI into it will make it more effective. Of course at the current climate, they may very well be true, but emerging technologies tend to blend with the existing ones and become a part of our daily lives and then the choice becomes even more important.
This links to the next, even more, future looking, instance where I see AI applications taking a wrong turn. We all remember or look back to with mixed emotions at the days of mass media advertising, it wasn’t that long ago but due to consumer behaviour changing within the digital age, social media was quick to take its place. Some principles for that change can be attributed to oversaturation and the change of preferred communication channels. One of them I think can be very true in utilising AI for marketing purposes. If more and more brands take on AI and use it throughout their services, which will probably happen, not only to change brand perception but because of the monetary value as well. We can end up in a world that is predominantly focused on AI interactions, most of us have seen videos of YouTube imagining a hyper realistic future where everything is controlled by AI and the city is overwhelmed by VR displays. Of course, the future will probably not look the same, because as someone said - if you can imagine how future will look like, it’s probably already the past. However some elements of this AI take over could be true and probably will happen, and for some aspects, it will be really great and exciting. However, I think as it happened with mass media advertising where authentic stories became a rare commodity, equally in the age of AI advertising human contact and interaction could become a rare commodity. With all the cashier desks changed to an automated service, with everything being integrated into IOT, what might happens is that people will start missing face to face interactions just like they started to miss authenticity and realness during mass media days. In that case, we might see brand cleverly hiring back cashier as brand strategy, having real assistants or gym trainers might become a luxury. To not reach to that point we should realise the value of humans as an asset, not as an element that can be substituted with AI chasing an up to date brand image or monetary value.
And I know right now AI doesn’t look like an advertisement channel or medium, but as we are changing from long advertising videos on TV to snackable content across different social channels the same way in my opinion product and service interactions will become a means of delivering a brand message and that very well might be a process automated by AI.