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AI and Marketing Evolution: Executives Weigh In on the Transformation

June 27, 2024

AI Marketing Leader Panel

Banks still have tellers.

Travel agents are crucial for complex travel.

Hitting “0” usually shortcuts the automated phone menu labyrinth.

And similarly, librarians relish getting people to their information in a way that Google just doesn’t care.

So, what about AI? It only makes sense with human creativity and intuition guiding it.

Balancing automation with a human touch is one of the key themes we heard from marketing executives in our first virtual panel on AI and marketing.

We invited marketing leaders to share their insights on AI’s influence, future trends, strategic implications and the preservation of authentic consumer connections. Our panel included:

Each of these leaders offers a wealth of experience and diverse perspectives on the intersection of AI and marketing. Their insights provide a roadmap for navigating the complex landscape of AI-driven marketing while maintaining the essential human elements that drive true connection and creativity.

Let’s dive into their expert insights, starting with their views on the most exciting future trends in AI and marketing:

Future Trends: What future trends in AI and marketing are you most excited about?

Andrew Eklund: All of it excites me terribly. I am bullish on the tech because people VASTLY underestimate its power. I expect that any job we in the agency world do that essentially pushes zeros and ones will be automated. Media planning. Media buying. Graphic production. Large amounts of research. Analytics. All of these activities process data…so that leaves curious, ambitious and daring people with 100% of their brain power to push brands forward.

Jarrod Lopiccolo: I love the fact that we are able to automate a lot of the mundane tasks. This has given our team more time to be strategic and creative. I am very excited about building out our own GPTs and LLMs for our clients. It will be interesting to see how the website experience evolves over time when we can use AI to help support the User Experience side of things.

Matthew McIver: I’m most excited about the advancements in saving time on tedious creative processes. AI’s ability to alter images helps us produce more concepts and iterate at a faster pace than ever before. The ability to get back time to reset and produce creative thoughts and strategies is what I’m most interested in.

Yanick Dalhouse AI Marketing Panelist

“One trend I’m really excited about is how it’s becoming easier to create ads without needing big production company budgets.”

Yanick Dalhouse
Founder | CEO, Uniquely Driven

Yanick Dalhouse: One trend I’m really excited about is how it’s becoming easier to create ads without needing big production company budgets. With the use of AI, we can craft more personalized and cost-effective campaigns for those clients with very limited dollars to spend. The other thing we’re loving about AI is how it can help us predict consumer trends and behavior so that we can better understand what consumers want before they even know it themselves.

Carlos Anchia: There’s tons to be excited about already! While companies are beginning to exercise their GenAI muscles, they are starting to see the value and potential that LLMs can bring to internal and external marketing teams. Everything from streamlining communications with customers and stakeholders to generating product-specific content, in a variety of languages, with the variation required to target personalization (at the segment level). We’ve recently seen that power translate well to images. While marketers have been using a variety of AI with images and video; the path that Generative AI provides leads to more efficient design workflows, image customization and, frankly, better tooling.

Jenny Plant: What I’m most excited about is the impact AI will have on traditional business models and particularly how it will help create more entrepreneurs. I heard (from a reputable source) that Sam Altman, the owner of Open AI, has a bet with a group of his friends in his WhatsApp group that we will see the first one person billion dollar company soon!

Lorenzo Johnson: There’s a few that I’m very excited about the potential for use, some of which we are currently at the beginning stages of testing. Expansive language integration into generative AI models has a ton of potential, especially for agencies like ours that are international. The second trend that I am excited about is open source AI models; both 100% open source AI models as well as more and more generative AI platforms adopting or integrating open source aspects.

Jared Zimmerman: I’m really excited about hyper-personalization because it allows people to see themselves reflected in a product. This could be things like age, gender, skin color or culture shown in a real way. Imagine getting content that is tailored to you, when you want it, based on data about you. This will make people more interested and loyal to brands. I’m also excited about AI combined with AR and VR since it could create amazing, interactive marketing.

Impact and Effectiveness: What impact has AI had on your marketing strategies and results?

Carlos Anchia: Today, AI is critical to how we develop and curate content as well as how we automate and optimize lead generation workflows. Marketing Ops can largely be automated with traditional RPA and as ML/AI continues to evolve the nuances required to understand how customers engage with our web/mobile properties they will provide additional levels of insight. Additionally, as the company continues to evolve how we engage customers and refine our value proposition, we are able to measure that change in our delivery motion to refine the messaging, posture and brand initiatives quickly.

Jared Zimmerman: AI has revolutionized marketing strategies, optimizing ad targeting, automating content creation and providing deep, actionable insights into peoples’ behavior. These enhancements have led to higher engagement rates and improved conversion rates. The efficiency gained through AI-driven processes ensures that marketing efforts are both impactful and cost-effective, making professional advertising more accessible to businesses of all sizes.

Yanick Dalhouse: We’ve been using AI in strategy development for our clients. We actually have been using AI to work on user personas, to brainstorm and gain reactions to concepts. It’s generally used as a proxy for our target audience’s perspectives. In production, AI has allowed us to create a commercial for the National Bank of Belize using existing footage provided by the client. We also used AI voice technology to create a Belizean woman’s voice for the voiceover without incurring the costs associated with booking talent or taking time needed to audition the talent.

Jenny Plant AI Marketing Panelist

“Quicker and more efficient social media content generation e.g., using tools like Kapwing, OneTake and HeyGen – this has eliminated the hard cost of employing a social media management agency.”

Jenny Plant
Consultant & Trainer at Account Management Skills Ltd

Jenny Plant: In my training/consultancy business, I’ve been using AI mostly in five key scenarios: 

  1. As a data analyst for a) market and client research and b) data analysis and interpretation e.g., ChatGPT – this has reduced time spent on research. 
  2. Quicker and more efficient social media content generation e.g., using tools like Kapwing, OneTake and HeyGen – this has eliminated the hard cost of employing a social media management agency. 
  3. Client and prospect meetings e.g., AI-generated meeting transcripts and summaries with tools like FireFlies and OtterAI – this has reduced meeting follow up time (emails and CRM updating). 
  4. New product development e.g., ChatGPT for sparking and initiating ideas for new products and services – this has reduced time spent on product development. 

Client communications skills e.g., practicing my Spanish before a client meeting in Spain using tools like JumpSpeak and Promova, improving my performance using tools like Poised and understanding clients at a deeper level using tools like CrystalKnows.

Andrew Eklund: AI is uniquely positioned within the agency as enabling future-level work. What I explained above is happening by design at the agency. We are able to practice what we preach, develop our own products, speak to our evolving expertise and establish trust with the marketplace that we are here to leverage this technology for good.

Lorenzo Johnson: AI has had a tremendous impact on both marketing strategy and results and I’ll name a few specifics of internal and external use cases. Social media ad testing is one big thing- we are able to test not only significantly more ads and ad copy at an incredibly more efficient rate, but we’re doing so in ways that lead to significant decreases in costs required for testing, both for our own ad campaigns as well as our clients. Increase in quality outputs for both internal campaigns as well as campaigns for our clients has also increased significantly.

Matthew McIver: AI has significantly enhanced our ability to analyze large datasets, allowing for more informed decision-making and improved campaign targeting. The ability to produce large sets of content for omni-channel messaging almost instantly has been a game changer. This has resulted in higher engagement rates and better ROI on our marketing efforts.

Jarrod Lopiccolo: It has definitely increased the speed of our current work, and the quality has notched up a level. I love how our creative team is using some AI tools to produce visual shot lists for when we go into the market and do video/photo shoots with our clients. Also, our Performance Marketing team is beginning to use it to identify whitespace opportunities. I love how our internal marketing team is using AI tools to generate quality content, image libraries and identify new content to be considered thought leaders.

Challenges and Solutions: How do you overcome obstacles related to AI implementation in marketing?

Lorenzo Johnson: There’s a few challenges that implementing AI into marketing will bring, and it’s important to have discussions amongst your leadership team about the potential ramifications of AI usage. These conversations are critical to being able to overcome any obstacles that you will run into. A few things to be aware of that will help you overcome obstacles: If you plan on using AI for clients, I recommend having a lawyer in the AI litigation space review all contracts to make sure your company is covered, as well as that it provides all necessary disclaimers to your clients. If you are going to be using AI, this should ALWAYS be disclosed up front to your clients. This will allow for open and honest communication out the gate, and your clients are more often to be open to usage at this point, as opposed to if they call you out on using it later.

Carlos Anchia: Companies tackling AI implementation often begin by partnering with capable vendors or partners. Successful organizations also invest in developing their in-house talent through training or insourcing talent. This dual approach addresses immediate needs while building long-term internal capabilities. For businesses where marketing isn’t a core focus, relying on external partners long-term may be the best strategy, allowing them to concentrate on their primary revenue streams. It’s crucial for companies to consider their stage in the business lifecycle when deciding how to overcome AI implementation challenges, as this context helps determine the most effective balance between external partnerships and internal development.

Andrew Eklund AI Marketing Panelist

“The biggest obstacles to AI adoption is fear and laziness. Fear because people haven’t spent the time they need to understand it independent from the dark narratives that gain headlines and clickbait.”

Andrew Eklund
Founder and CEO, Ciceron

Andrew Eklund: The biggest obstacles to AI adoption is fear and laziness. Fear because people haven’t spent the time they need to understand it independent from the dark narratives that gain headlines and clickbait. Laziness because far too many brands are deep up the as*** of big tech like Microsoft, Salesforce and Google that they’re stunned into a no-go position until the behemoths say it’s OK. This is the game those tech companies play to slow down the market in order for them to catch up. All three companies, with a possible exception of Microsoft, are stumbling all over AI and the market is crushing them for it.

Yanick Dalhouse: The biggest obstacle I find implementing AI in marketing is making sure that the brand’s voice is being preserved. If we get too dependent on AI tools, it is easy to get lazy and not question the information being provided to us by the AI tool. Externally, we need to ensure that the AI-generated content aligns with the client’s brand guidelines which requires using human oversight to maintain consistency. Internally, our teams working with AI tools need to blend their creativity and knowledge of the client with AI’s capabilities to keep the client’s brand authentic and cohesive.

Matthew McIver: One major challenge is the integration of AI tools with existing systems. We address this by ensuring robust training for our team and collaborating closely with our tech partners to ensure seamless integration. Internally, fostering a culture of continuous learning helps our team stay updated with the latest AI advancements.

Jenny Plant: One of the key challenges at the moment is how copyright infringement will be handled, as the legal implications of using generative AI are still unclear. Other ‘internal’ challenges include keeping up with the speed of change i.e., how many new AI tools and solutions are available to adopt and how to incorporate the most useful ones systematically to make internal operations more efficient. It’s easy to have ‘shiny penny syndrome’ but monthly subscriptions can get out of control if the investment isn’t looked at through the lens of realistic applicability and usefulness. The key external challenge is keeping up to date with how AI is impacting my client’s business and ensuring I adapt to stay relevant as well as seeking ways to evolve my business model and offerings.

Jarrod Lopiccolo: I think that the more that our team uses AI tools the fewer obstacles we are finding. I think the use of AI is just like other tools that we have adopted early. I’m hopeful that soon, we won’t see AI as this extra or new thing and that it will just be integrated into everything we do. That is already starting to happen. I’m looking forward to when all the mature companies have it built directly into their platforms, and it doesn’t feel like an add-on or a new feature, etc.

Jared Zimmerman: Externally, a strong emphasis is placed on data privacy and regulatory compliance, ensuring AI solutions are not just effective but also trustworthy. This involves staying ahead of changing regulations and maintaining transparent data practices. Internally, the key has been fostering a culture of continuous learning and adaptability. Investing in training and development for teams, equipping them with the skills needed to leverage AI technologies effectively. Promoting collaboration between data scientists and creative teams ensures that AI is seamlessly integrated.

Ethics and Responsibility: How do you ensure that AI-driven marketing efforts remain authentic and resonate with consumers?

Yanick Dalhouse: Overall, AI is a tool. It should not be used to replace human oversight or insight. To ensure that AI-driven efforts remain authentic and resonate with consumers means training team members to understand the client’s goals and mission. Marketers simply cannot just dump generalized info into ChatGPT and expect it to produce the perfect tagline or PR pitch without rereading the info to make sure it makes absolute sense and aligns with the client’s voice.

Jarrod Lopiccolo: Always lead with the human aspect. Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes and ask if what we are providing to them is relevant and worthy of their attention. If you do this, you will always be on top and in the minds of the people.

Lorenzo Johnson AI Marketing Panelist

“Transparency, transparency, transparency. Both agencies and their clients are navigating a space where rules and regulations are oftentimes gray to say the least, and it’s important that all parties are on the same page.”

Lorenzo Johnson
Director of Revenue Management and Partner, Sociallyin

Lorenzo Johnson: Transparency, transparency, transparency. Both agencies and their clients are navigating a space where rules and regulations are oftentimes gray to say the least, and it’s important that all parties are on the same page. Secondly, any AI outputs will only be as good as the inputs. Having regular checks and optimizations on these inputs is key, including being sure to always update so that you’re always using the most up to date and relevant information. Lastly, you need to be having reporting meetings with your clients that not only get their direct feedback, but that also includes advanced reporting such as sentiment reports, integrating Google Analytics and any other data set that helps tell the story of how the campaign is resonating with consumers. This will ensure that efforts are still authentic, on brand, but also take advantage of the massive data set and efficiencies that AI has to offer.

Matthew McIver: We prioritize transparency and ethical considerations in our AI-driven tool kits. By clearly communicating how AI is used and ensuring it aligns with our brand values, we maintain authenticity and build trust with our audience.

Carlos Anchia: Like most organizations, we apply a level of governance to the marketing workflow. For example, there are times where content can be generative and must be reviewed, and others when content cannot be purely generative. Maintaining ownership of how the brand is messaged is important as we engage with our customers. Our customers rely on our experience and expertise to navigate challenging decisions and often that value is largely occluded when seen through the lens of generated content.

Jenny Plant: At the moment generative AI is our perfect efficiency partner – we still (currently) need to filter the outputs through our human lens.

Jared Zimmerman: Authenticity in AI-driven marketing begins with a commitment to transparency and ethical data use. Campaigns must respect user privacy and avoid bias by adhering to stringent ethical guidelines. Additionally, blending AI insights with human creativity is crucial. While AI provides the data and trends, it’s the human touch that crafts stories and messages that truly resonate with people. Maintaining this balance ensures that marketing efforts are both data-informed and genuinely engaging.

Andrew Eklund: I have strong opinions about this, but they fall into two camps. First, no one (client or otherwise) should dictate how I decide to run the back office of my agency. I can use whatever legal technology I can to create efficiencies and effectiveness for my clients. I’m not fooling anyone. Second, however, is generative creative using AI. This is a different camp. Are we deceiving the end user? Maybe. What about classic photo retouching? Photoshop in general? Creatives have always deceived the consumer to make brands more attractive. I think the question we are really having is whether it’s somehow OK if a human does it, but not so if a machine does. I think AI will create more empathetic creative because we will be able to process consumer signals that give us the opportunity to add value and relevance to people’s lives rather than put people on blast to sell as much as possible. I believe AI-driven media also solves the problem that we don’t treat people as scarcities and valuable. We lump them together into addressable markets that are monolithic and impersonal. AI should create better outcomes for everyone.

Matt McIver AI Marketing PanelistMatt McIver AI Marketing Panelist

“We use AI to handle data-driven tasks and test scenarios, allowing our team to focus on creative and strategic aspects of campaigns, ensuring a balance between technology and human ingenuity.”

Matthew McIver
CEO / Co-Founder, Commence Studios

Balancing Act: How do you balance using AI with the need for human creativity, passion and intuition in marketing campaigns?

Matthew McIver: AI enhances our capabilities but doesn’t replace human creativity. We use AI to handle data-driven tasks and test scenarios, allowing our team to focus on creative and strategic aspects of campaigns, ensuring a balance between technology and human ingenuity.

Carlos Anchia: Where we can automate, we start there. The challenge is presented when we instill human creativity to these automatic processes where providing that passion that’s needed when communicating our value.

Jared Zimmerman: The balance between AI and human creativity is essential. AI handles the heavy lifting of data analysis and optimization, freeing creative teams to focus on innovation and storytelling. This relationship leverages the strengths of both AI and human intuition. AI provides data-driven insights, while creative teams inject passion and emotion into the work. This approach ensures marketing is both effective and evocative, striking the right chord with audiences.

Andrew Eklund: One does not replace the other. AI and creatives will move fluidly and respectfully together. We are not living in a simulation, nor do we want to. AI processes data, is not conscious and does not have intuitive passion or a creative soul. And thank God for it.

Jarrod Lopiccolo AI Marketing Panelist

“Adopt the mindset that AI is just enhancing what we are already doing. Put humans first, and make sure that anything you are creating resonates with those target audiences.”

Jarrod Lopiccolo
CEO / Co-Founder, Noble Studios

Jarrod Lopiccolo: Adopt the mindset that AI is just enhancing what we are already doing. Put humans first and make sure that anything you are creating resonates with those target audiences. Creativity will always be what wins and it will take a long time for AI to be able to really think like a human and be creative. Even if AI begins to provide more and more creative solutions, it will take a human to determine if it is emotionally resonating with them.

Yanick Dalhouse: We balance using AI with creativity by integrating the AI tools to help us brainstorm and explore new ways of being creative. In some instances, it helps to fuel our passion for campaign idea development.

Jenny Plant: As long as we are communicating with / selling to human decision makers, we’ll need human creativity, passion and intuition in campaigns. If AI becomes our customer, all bets are off.

Lorenzo Johnson: This is a very sensitive topic, especially as a social media marketing agency. To name just a few, there’s issues of ownership of creative and cost structure from your clients perspective, but then also the issue that your internal team may have the feeling of being replaced. We try to focus on the efficiency that AI provides and how, when integrated strategically and appropriately, it actually only enhances our team’s ability to be creative, passionate and intuitive, while simultaneously increasing both their quantity and quality of output. It’s important to check the AI platforms you are using, and be sure that you can find sources that verify the information. Recently for example, OPENAI had issues pulling in Reddit thread answers for users for example. Lastly, remember that AI isn’t perfect and that it’s not currently at the place where it can 100% replace the human element. It spits out wrong information—sometimes it gets overloaded—so it’s always important to thoroughly review all outputs before putting them into use.

Jared Zimmerman AI Marketing Panelist

“AI’s ability to analyze vast amounts of customer data enables uncovering patterns and preferences that could be impossible to detect manually.”

Jared Zimmerman
Product Design, Research, and AI Innovation Consultant

Personalization and Engagement: How can AI help marketers better understand, engage and serve target audiences?

Jared Zimmerman: AI’s ability to analyze vast amounts of customer data enables uncovering patterns and preferences that could be impossible to detect manually. This deep understanding allows for tailored marketing efforts to individual needs and behaviors, making content more relevant and engaging. Personalized recommendations, dynamic content and predictive analytics all contribute to improved customer experiences and stronger relationships. By leveraging AI, audiences can be served in ways that feel personal and meaningful, ultimately driving engagement and loyalty.

Jenny Plant: Applying predictive models to huge amounts of data very quickly e.g., agencies like Black Swan Data have been using AI to predict consumer spend for some of the biggest CPG companies. For example, they consolidate massive data sets from multiple sources, analyze it and help companies predict how successful their new products will be. This helps companies reduce risk, time and cost.

Lorenzo Johnson: AI can help marketers better understand target audiences by being able to not only process, but extrapolate information at a much faster rate than humans can. So one of the biggest benefits is going to be the efficiency of processing data, which then marketers can take that information into account when optimizing campaigns for engagement to better serve target audiences. One other aspect that I love to use AI for, when it comes to optimizing campaigns for target audiences engagement, is to have AI play devil’s advocate, or help provide angles and approaches that maybe you didn’t think of. It’s great to “bounce ideas” off of and get feedback on the pros and cons. It’s also great to input the plan that you are thinking, and have AI poke holes into it.

Carlos Anchia AI Marketing Panelist

“AI helps to structure the many disparate data points and prepare that data so other tools can draw inferences and relationships, often shinning a bright light on what would have been a small signal.”

Carlos Anchia
Managing Director, Artificial Intelligence at Acacia Advisors

Carlos Anchia: Often marketers are subjected to making cohort decisions on poor quality data. The higher quality the data the higher probability of a ‘more correct’ understanding of a specific audience. AI helps to structure the many disparate data points and prepare that data so other tools can draw inferences and relationships, often shinning a bright light on what would have been a small signal. A great example is leveraging Large Language Models to pre-process incoming data (at scale) from mobile, web, social media and brick and mortar by asking it to associate similar/like data, this then is used by graph databases to help associate those similarities as relationships. This helps identify how each data point relates to like data, but also helps to provide a view of that data that was otherwise obscured by the volume and larger noise in the signal.

Andrew Eklund: This is the nexus of my agency. We take all data, turn them into signals, unite them together and provide our clients with scaled and bespoke custom audience segments. These segments are each coupled with detailed persona types based on direct human inputs from people within these segments. They are highly tuned to the real life desires and needs of audiences, giving us a playbook for creative necessities, content topics, unique psychographic profiles and the channels in which they consume and communicate. This is the best of all possible outcomes because of AI.

Matthew McIver: AI enables deeper insights into consumer behavior through advanced analytics and segmentation. This allows us to create highly personalized content and experiences, leading to better engagement and stronger customer relationships for our clients.

Jarrod Lopiccolo: AI is really great at accessing and crunching a lot of data. Much faster than a human. So, leverage that. Text your creative across many different audiences and make adjustments as needed.

Yanick Dalhouse: The predictive analytics such as demographics, website behavior and social media activity that AI is able to collect and analyze helps to quickly identify trends and patterns which helps us as marketers to anticipate consumer needs and preferences more accurately. This allows us to personalize our marketing strategies, so they truly resonate with our clients’ audiences.

Embracing AI in Marketing: The Path Forward

As we’ve seen from the insights shared by our panel of experts, AI is rapidly transforming the marketing landscape. While challenges exist, the potential for enhanced creativity, efficiency, and personalization is immense. 

Here are a few key takeaways from the discussion:

AI augments human creativity rather than replacing it, allowing marketers to focus on strategy and innovation. Here’s how to leverage this:

  • Identify repetitive tasks in your workflow and explore AI tools to automate them, freeing up time for creative thinking.
  • Use AI-generated ideas as a springboard for brainstorming sessions, pushing your team to think beyond conventional concepts.

AI enables deeper audience understanding and hyper-personalization, leading to more effective campaigns. Here’s how to leverage this:

  • Implement AI-powered analytics tools to gain deeper insights into your audience’s behavior and preferences.
  • Create segmented content strategies based on AI-derived audience insights for more targeted message

Balancing automation with human touch is essential for maintaining authenticity and resonance with consumers. Here’s how to leverage this:

  • Regularly review AI-generated content to ensure it aligns with your brand voice and values.
  • Incorporate personal stories and experiences into AI-assisted campaigns to maintain authenticity.

Transparency and ethical considerations are crucial when implementing AI in marketing efforts. Here’s how to leverage this:

  • Develop a clear AI usage policy for your marketing team, outlining ethical guidelines and transparency practices.
  • Regularly disclose to your audience when and how AI is used in your marketing efforts to build trust.

As the marketing world continues to evolve with AI, staying informed and adaptable is key to success. If you’re looking to navigate this exciting new frontier and harness the power of AI for your marketing efforts, Noble Studios is here to help.

Ready to elevate your marketing strategy with AI? Contact Noble Studios today to explore how we can help you leverage cutting-edge technology while maintaining the human touch that drives meaningful connections with your audience.

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