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Taking Your First Steps Into an AI-First World

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There is no doubt that AI is a hot topic for marketers everywhere. And while the discussion is about the future—as we patiently wait for self-driving cars—today’s reality is quite different. AI is here, it’s happening all around us and impacting the role of marketers more than we ever expected.

At BrightEdge, we’ve been working and developing our AI capabilities, and understanding the different applications to help our customers and the broader community of marketers. In fact, it has been part of a natural evolution and a data-driven journey that we have been on for the last 10 years.

A few weeks ago,  I had the opportunity to join Marketing AI Institute Paul Roetzer and my colleague Andy Betts on a webinar to discuss marketing in the age of machines.

It’s always rewarding to present with interesting speakers who understand and know their space. And in this case, Paul provided great context on the AI-first movement and offered  a good framework on where artificial intelligence is going.  

In the webinar, hosted by BrightEdge, we talked through the 5Ps of marketing AI: planning, production, promotion, personalization and performance. I knew it was a great webinar when I had a page of notes after listening to Paul for only 15 minutes.

Below are some of the top takeaways from the webinar, in case you missed it. You can also view the entire webinar here on demand.

AI Is Real and It's Here Today

As marketers, we’ve gone through plenty of hype cycles. From the social craze to the big data movement, we’ve seen the next big thing come and go. It’s natural to feel a bit skeptical about artificial intelligence and its application for marketers. But AI is real and its potential can’t be understated.  

Companies like Google and Amazon are transforming into AI-first companies and accelerating the pace of change. From Google’s RankBrain algorithm to voice search to Amazon’s product recommendations, AI is driving change in the market faster than ever before.

The Hungry, Hungry Algorithm

Algorithms are hungry and never satisfied. Algorithms need lots and lots of data. It turns out that the algorithms themselves aren't the unique differentiators. Algorithms are available off the shelf. Companies with the best data will take an early lead (and create a sustainable competitive advantage) in the world of AI. There is no simple, easy or cheap solve to this requirement. Building, organizing and assembling data is a massive, multi-year effort.

There is a divide between slow adopters and early adopters of AI.

During the webinar, we asked attendees to participate in our annual “Future of Marketing” survey. In the early results, we’ve seen a big divide. The divide is comprised of two parts:

On one hand, there are marketers that have very little understanding of AI—nearly 10% believe it is all hype and not worth the time.  

On the other hand, we see more and more marketers who believe the adoption of AI is mission critical in 2018.  

And in the middle, marketers are trying to find simple, practical applications for AI.

If you are interested, please take the survey. We’d love to get your opinion.

AI Is Here to Help (Not Replace) Marketers

Let’s get this in the open right here and now. It’s in the back of all our minds and we’ve all thought about it.  Will AI replace us?  

Yes, if you fail to adopt it.  With everyone else applying AI, marketers that don’t will find themselves hopelessly behind. Embrace AI. Educate yourself and start applying it to your business. Future-proof yourself. Just like digital, data-driven marketers, AI-savvy marketers will always be in demand. Just maybe, AI will bring back the 40-hour work week.

Taking Your First Steps Into the World of AI

Most of the questions from webinar participants asked about the best way to get started with AI.  

In reality, it's straightforward. Rather than evaluate pure-play AI vendors, get started with your current technology that is part of your current workflow. It’s a good start and allows you to learn about the power of AI.

If you are running search marketing, content marketing, demand generation or email programs, look at your current platforms to see who is applying AI today. The most innovative companies are natively integrating AI into their platform, making it possible for you to be an AI-first marketer today.

Secondly, master a basic understanding of AI, machine learning and deep learning and the key differences. There are plenty of free classes and resources available to do this. Look for opportunities to educate yourself on the trend.

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