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October 4, 2017


The Impact of AI on Marketing Jobs

by Tom De Baere



Marketing organization haven’t changed much in the last 40 years or so. But that’s about to change.

We live in a world of exponential change. As we have moved from the industrial age, to the information age, to the mobile age, we now are entering the age of artificial intelligence and automation.

Advancements in computing is making computers to reach human brain capacity by 2025. By 2050 the projected power of computing will reach the capacity of all humans on earth. Already today it is projected that soon, algorithms, automation and robots, will impact 1 billion human jobs in 2020.

It is safe to say that marketing organization are affected too.

But what will be the impact, and how can we prepare? That’s exactly the subjects of this blog post. In this blog post, I want to try to answer the following questions that relate to modern digital marketing organizations:

  • What mega-trends are forcing modern digital marketing organizations to change?
  • What will become the new reality for CMO’s?
  • What is the impact of this on the tasks of people within a modern digital marketing organization?
  • What should you do as a marketer to embrace this change?

Mega-trends influencing your marketing job


If we want to understand how to adapt to change, we first need to understand the environment where our future marketing organization will need to thrive.

And a lot is happening around us:

Ever and ever more informed customers

Already today our customers are very informed, nothing new here. But the continued introduction of new technologies like visual search, VR and AR are making customers smarter. Think of recent Android versions from Google that now have visuals object recognition on board. Users will point their smart device to your product, and get “augmented”.

Large digital players take more control of customer journey

Voice interfaces powered by, first niche artificial intelligence, and later by wider general artificial intelligence and smart home devices. Think of Amazon Echo entering the living room, informing customers through this new channel, and allowing the order process to happen instantly. Amazon in this case controls the entire customer journey.

Faster (digital) product cycles, newbie for ever and ever

Physical and digital products are going through faster cycles. In the future this will be a series of endless upgrades, where products are morphing continuously, and users will be in a continuous newbie mode. Professional, but also consumers, won’t have time to master anything before it is displaced. Endless newbie is the new default for everyone, not matter your age or experience. Think of a Tesla cars, that gets updated over-the-air to have new features on board.

Marketing technology innovation cycles shorter and shorter

As I demonstrated in an earlier post, the speed in which marketing organization need to introduce new innovations is increasing. As we have just mastered the new basics, suddenly we need to deal with new innovations like chatbots and augmented reality within our marketing strategy. Think of chatbots that didn’t exist 2 years ago.

Technology explosion, everything becomes smart

Everything is about technology. Increasingly our products and our services are connected, smart and interfacing to an open ecosystem and the large digital platforms. Think of smart cars, smart cities, smart flower pots, smart everything…. yes I’m talking the Internet-Of-Things here.

New consumption patterns

Consumers, especially the younger generation, are moving away from buying and owning products. They massively opt-in to renting or lending products, wanting to experience products rather than own them. Think of AirBnB.


In the industrial age, companies did their utmost to save themselves time by increasing their efficiency and productivity. That is not enough today. Now organizations need to save their customers and citizens time. They need to do their utmost to interact in real-time. Real time is human time. Think of ever reducing delivery times, or 3D printing.

Self learning machines & automation

It is hard to believe, but before the end of this century, 70 percent of today’s occupations will likewise be replaced by automation— including the job you hold. But people will embrace this change. Those who best optimized the process of working with machines will create the best opportunities in the future. This is not a race against the machines. If we race against them, we lose. This is a race with the machines.

Brands evolve to open platforms

Smart products allow to build more digital connectivity with customers. These smart products add to the experiences brought by open eco-systems. Think of Nike who has opened their Nike+ platform to an eco-system of developers & hardware developers.

The New Reality for CMO’s

Within the context of these mega-trends, being a CMO is not without its challenges….

Increased responsibilities

In the last decade, CMO’s and marketing managers have seen a drastically increased field of responsibility.

CMO’s are responsible for the classic marketing mix. You know, the 4C’s or 4P’s. That has changed. Today they must take charge of much more: digital transformation, customer experience, marketing technology and social business. To name a few.

And all of this with budgets under pressure, and still struggling to proof ROI to the C-level.

Ever faster change

marketing_innovation_timelineDo you also have the feeling that marketing has changed more in the past 2 years than the past 50 years? A couple of blog posts ago I wrote how the speed of change in the field of marketing is increasing.

As an effect, most marketers today feel overwhelmed with the speed of change happening in the job we are passionate about.

Everything seems to be new, always. It’s never easy, it’s always complicated. And by the time we started understanding something, it’s already outdated as a tactic.

Organizational struggles

marketing_organization_challengesAs CMO’s try to cope with their increased responsibilities, they are nothing without the right organization. The problem is that great talent is really hard to find.

Numerous times I have had conversations with CMO’s complaining about the knowledge gap within their organization.

Next to the knowledge gap, and outdated decision making structure (governance) is making change a slow and cumbersome process.

And some change seems impossible: CMO’s are responsible for customer experience, but have no span of control over the organization to make the necessary changes.

How likely is AI and automation going to impact marketing jobs?

A couple of years ago, the University of Oxford published an influential paper on the future of employment, trying to answer the question :

How susceptible are jobs to computerization?

They’ve gone through the effort of estimating the chance of computerization for 702 (!) detailed occupations.

The model predicts, not surprisingly, that most workers in transportation and logistics occupations, together with the bulk of office and administrative support workers, and labour in production occupations, are at risk.


But the questions that I want to try to answers are:

How is automation and AI going to impact the job of marketers?

And when is this going to happen?

How should marketers embrace the change?


Within the long list of occupations, the paper learns us that some marketing occupations will be affected, while others are not going to be impacted for the foreseeable future. The chart even seems to show that a lot of marketing occupations are in the ‘green zone’.

But… nothing less is further from the truth. Also these green occupations are going to be affected by digitization, automation and AI….

Software will eat the bottom of the marketing ladder, so get ready to climb.

Detailed impact of AI on Marketing Jobs

Let’s have a look at the job of “marketing managers”. That’s a very generic title which covers a lot.

Marketing managers deal with strategy, developing marketing campaigns, marketing communication and event marketing, to name a few things.

Within this wide range of marketing manager tasks, let’s have a look at how automation and AI will have an impact in the foreseeable future. 

How is is automation and artificial intelligence impacting these occupations of marketing profiles:

  • market_segmentation-ai-buyer_personaMarket research:  Lucy by Equal3, in the back powered by IBM Watson is capable of going through massive amounts of internal and external content and data. The output is details on customer segmentation, persona insight, ideal media mix and even message suggestions. Today Lucy is still reserved for the Fortune 1000 and requires a lot of training of the AI engine to get it working, but the technology advances quickly.
  • Creating customer journey’s: by being able to continually process huge amounts of customer data, Deep Learning systems can create way more granular, more accurate personas, allowing real-time adjustments to each customer’s journey. Every interaction and new set of options can be customized to the actual individual’s behaviors, context and timing, heightening the quality of their brand experience.
  • Content creation: news media such as the LA Times, Forbes and the Associated Press have already been using AI tools to produce fact-based articles, summaries and reports on a basic level. However, companies like like Articoolo and Quill have developed AI platforms for writing content on a more advanced level. As Quill’s website puts it, organizations are increasingly using “advanced natural language generation (Advanced NLG) to transform their data into narratives.” Content writers may dread this development, but the upside is that whatever a machine writes can’t be any worse than most of the crappy content already glutting the web. You can’t pin that on AI. Other companies into robot-writing are Wordsmith and Narrative Science.
  • Tagging content for personalization: Alfred from Boomtrain is capable of analyzing massive amounts of content, and then tag the content accordingly. This content can then be used in newsletters, dynamic websites, and marketing automation environments. Another example is IBM Watson content hub, in which content assets like photo’s and images are automatically tagged with relevant meta-data.
  • Account based marketing strategy building: there are many shortcomings with present-day lead generation and marketing automation models that prevent ABM actualization, starting with the problem of identifying quality leads. Yet the B2B prospecting adage that 95% of leads are misses needn’t hold true anymore, thanks to AI. A Deep Learning platform (like the products developed by MarianaIQ) can analyze thousands of inputs about demography, psychography, social media behaviors and a raft of other data to create hyper-accurate personas, constantly updated in real time. That enables marketers to find and engage only the best prospects within the accounts they want to target, achieving 1:1 personalization with each of them. Since AI cost-effectively automates much of the lead generation and engagement process, tomorrow’s ABM programs are implemented at scale, across all of a marketer’s accounts, by more and more companies. (source: MarianaIQ white paper)
  • Persona building: Can computers understand an individual human’s personality (and then, presumably, use that understanding to better target marketing messages)? It turns out that’s no longer even a question: if you haven’t yet played with CrystalKnows, be prepared for some weirdly accurate insights into yourself and those you know well, based on public Internet information. And, yes, Crystal advises you how to interact with others based on those insights, going so far as to suggest changes to your emails to better fit the style of the recipient. If there’s a gap between this and letting a computer just manage the whole relationship without any human involvement, it’s almost too small to worry about. This is where Mariana comes in. The whiz-bang part of its pitch is using artificial intelligence (“deep learning” as in the Mariana Trench – get it?) to build personas by analyzing a sample of your existing customers. Users see attributes for each persona such as interests, titles, functions, tenure, and average deal size. Pretty cool, I must say. (source: customerexperiencematrix)
  • Building marketing automation campaigns: up until now, the complexity of such campaigns was constrained by our limitations as humans. We could only keep track of so many rules, for so many segments, at so many trigger points before it became an unmanageable tangled mess. But AI-powered marketing automation will have no such constraints. Machines will calculate thousands of microsegments and microtriggers, dynamically adjusting their own internal “rules” for optimizing engagement. Check out the AI-powered marketing optimization product Amplero, which boasts continuous testing of 1,000’s of marketing permutations through multi-armed bandit experiments. (source: Chiefmartec)
  • Writing short copy for email, Adwords, or Facebook: AI is able to understand huge amounts of data faster than humans. By testing and proposing the best email subject lines, Facebook Ad headlines, and photos the AI will help marketers to achieve faster and more accurate results. AI computers will test different combinations of words, phrases and images to check which one works best to meet your goals. The AI is able to analyze millions of headlines and photos on the whole internet. It can check and analyze the click-through rates of the Facebook ads of your competitors. The result will be more effective and moneymaking advertising than today. (source: Marius Schober on Medium)

Main body backgrounds, mainimages, overlaytext, andsoon — are dynamically assembled when they are served, according to the particular needs of the impression.

  • Programmatic advertising with AI: using AI marketers can build campaigns that become smarter over time. The output is that now marketers can predict what combination of creative and audience segmentation will perform best. Using what is called “Dynamic Creative Optimization” or DCO, hyper personalization at scale can  generate e.a. 80 quintillion creative ads on a weekly basis. Main body backgrounds, main images, overlay text and other elements are dynamically assembled when they are served, according to the particular needs of the impression. To get an idea about that number: that’s 80000000000000000000 unique ads or 80000000000 billion ads. Companies that are innovating in this space are Adacao, Admotion, Adobe, Appnexus, Skylads or IntelliAds, to name a few.
  • lead-management-ai-marketing-jobsLead management: gone are the days that marketers needed to manually script the follow-up conversations that marketing would have with potential leads, before they can hand leads of to sales. Conversational AI powered sales assistant can send early contact emails and have conversations with leads. When the time is right, sales receives these leads, along with best time to contact, interests, etc. Have a look at Conversica if you want to learn more.
  • Finding profitable customers, understanding or preventing churn, increasing life-time-value: customer churn analysis helps to identify and focus on higher value customers. Until now, marketers had to create manual segments in a so called RFM (recency-frequency-monetary) model. AI technology today helps in understanding and model profitable customers. It can help predict the risk of cancellation and why. Companies working in this domain are IBM, Appuri, Gaininsight, Preact (now bought by Spotify), …

In an study by Aberdeen Group, they found that the current sweet spot for AI in marketing is found in customer lifetime optimization use cases…



Will a robot take your marketing job?


AI will not automate all marketing jobs; far from it. But we’ll see automation and AI technology in most tasks of marketers.

The future of marketing is already very different from what we’re used to. But it’s only going to get more and more specialized. That’s why all marketers must prepare to learn and do the things they used to do, but now supported by more and more technology.

Some questions you want to think about:

  • How to influence algorithmic buying assistants of customers?
  • Do we need to create robot persona’s to understand the behavior of robots?
  • How much time do you have?

Some things will become more important than others. Critical thinking and creativity are difficult to digitize and automate, and as such these skills become very valuable to companies and employers. But working with technology will become a crucial aspect of marketing, for everyone in marketing and sales.

Expand your comfort zone. Those who best optimize the process of working with machines will create the best opportunities in the future. This is not a race against the machines. If we race against them, we lose. This is a race with the machines.


Warm regards,

Tom De Baere