[A version of this post originally appeared in Digiday.]
There’s never been more pressure for marketers to know the ins and outs of every part of the marketing process–from analyzing metrics to coming up with Cannes Lions-winning creative ideas. As the amount of available data keeps expanding, the natural assumption is that discerning ROI will be easier. But in the process, the actual practice of marketing can get lost in the noise.
According to an IAB survey 52.4 percent of marketers said that general audience analytics consume the bulk of their time and 73.7 percent said “better reporting, measurement and attribution” will consume their future time. Actually creating content and optimizing consumer experiences was way down on the list, with just 21.4 percent of marketers saying these tasks claimed the most time.
This myopia may be short-lived. Marketers and agencies are realizing that automation and artificial intelligence can handle the grunt work of measurement leaving more time for the art of marketing.
Rather than employ their creativity to capture consumers’ attention, marketers find that they’re expected to display a vast skill set including data manipulation, deriving and establishing tactical metrics and familiarity with multiple measurement tools. In a recent rundown of the skills required to be a CMO, Forbes lists “thinks like a CTO” and “embraces data and design” among others.
Marketers should be aware of the many benefits of analyzing data–from using metrics as a method of gauging success to identifying pockets of opportunity to trigger creative ideas. However, excessive focus on data and metrics could mean spending less time on the creative aspects of their role, where they could have the most impact.
Art meets science
Realizing that data and measurement is a rabbit hole, Unilever recently announced that it’s investing in AI firm MachineVantage with hopes of using AI to more effectively market its CPG products. The company is even using machine learning to fuel its hiring process.
Similarly, Publicis has launched Marcel, an AI-based personal digital assistant designed as a communications vehicle for its 80,000 employees. The idea is to make global employees conscious of opportunities. For instance, a copywriter in the Philippines might decide to work on a Tide brief in the New York office for a Super Bowl ad.
The idea behind such applications is that powerful computing drawing from huge amounts of data will uncover patterns and opportunities that elude human marketers.
While such AI applications are still fledgling, the question is clear for marketers: if you could hand over the analytical and sophisticated data disciplines to machines, opening up time to pursue the creative aspects of the job, would you?
Algorithms can optimize campaigns to hit an 80 percent viewability and 90 percent completion rate while hitting the target demo. What machines can’t do — at least for now — is craft an attention-getting campaign or get consumers to see a brand in a new way. That is and should be the job of marketers. Leave the rest to the machines.