When I hear people talk about advancements in technology, I often think of devices, machines and apps. But the origins of the word technology are from the Greek word techne, which means “art, skill, cunning of hand.” The definition of technology is a “collection of methods, skills and processes used in the accomplishment of objectives.” In short, a tool or a method of getting something done.
As humans, we’ve been inventing new ways to get things done since the dawn of our existence. Whether it’s the stone tools of the earliest documented homo erectus or the invention of the wheel circa 3500 BC, our technology has been advancing for 1.7 million years.
At the end of the day, technology is about improvement. Humans have come so far as a species that today’s improvements involve machines and devices. And lately, artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning.
Here’s where a hush falls over the crowd. What if machines become smarter than humans and take over the world, like in Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot stories?
In films like Spike Jonze’s Her, which depicts a technologically advanced near-future, the rise of artificial intelligence poses some necessary questions.
What do our relationships with smart machines – ones capable of thinking – look like? How do we coexist? Will they take our jobs? Will they replace our human relationships?
Heady questions, but in my opinion, the rumors of our humanity’s demise are greatly exaggerated!
Various films have skirted the edges of these questions, and while there’s no direct commentary, marketers can infer how the emergence of mainstream artificial intelligence will help, not replace, content marketers.
AI comes in peace.
Today, technology has ingrained itself into the fabric of optimal methods of marketing a product or service. In fact, I’ve argued the term “digital marketing” is redundant since digital realms and technologies are part of every successful marketing strategy. Digital marketing is marketing.
Whenever artificial intelligence comes up, marketers get defensive about their profession. But we’re all marketers here, so this won’t be a story about how we’re all destined to get replaced. To the contrary, marketers are currently working quite well with technology:
The biggest stage on which marketers operate is Google – an algorithm.
Social networks, which play a large role in marketing strategies, are applications.
And more recently, the darling of the marketing world – automation, a word borne from technology – is making life easier for marketing teams around the globe.
Marketers are operating in a world filled with digital technology. Rather than worrying about the development of artificial intelligence and smart machines, it’s time for marketers to embrace them as a new methods and processes for accomplishing objectives.
Machines are already helping.
In the same way current digital technologies and platforms rely on artificial intelligence, there are apps that help marketers make sense of other machines.
Consider an application like BuzzSumo, which allows content marketers to figure out not only which of their posts are generating the most engagement, but also which topics their audience has deemed most valuable. It might not seem like artificial intelligence – and it certainly isn’t as advanced as the AI in Her – but it’s data that’s compiled and output by a program.
Email marketing, which marketers can program to automatically respond and send emails following a “if this, then that” protocol, works in the background once it’s set up. Sounds like a program helping a human do a more efficient and less labor intensive job to me!
Rest assured: email marketing, or anything automated, doesn’t replace a human marketer, it saves them from doing a mindless and repetitive task.
In a digital world of programs and apps built on artificial intelligence technology, human marketers are arming themselves with an AI toolset of their own.
How AI is the way of the future.
In Her, we see a man’s personal operating system (OS) process information about him so well she understands his wants and needs before he does. Since targeting an exact audience is the most important component of a marketing strategy, this technology is a dream come true for marketers.
Think about it: if marketers knew a person’s wants and needs with 100% precision, wouldn’t their job be easier? So long as you tailor your products, services and marketing messages to a broad but exact audience, you’ll achieve success.
Predicting the future of AI and content marketing isn’t about an exact app or program. There are too many possibilities to make an accurate prediction. The more important consideration for content marketing’s future is how AI will give marketers the ability to laser-focus on exact groups of people.
Yes, segmenting is part of the current email marketing process. But with AI technology, the segmenting and targeting of the future will be much bigger and more efficient.
If you’ve ever been in Times Square, think about all those ads and billboards hyper-targeted at you. And then think about how they’ll also get individually targeted at everybody in Times Square.
The information on our devices will communicate with interactive billboards and other technologies to simultaneously deliver hyper-targeted marketing messages that’ll tap into a person’s exact wants and needs.
It’s just a guess, but that could very well be the way of the future.
All’s well that ends well?
One of humanity’s best traits is our ability to improve and adapt to a changing environment. In 2017 and beyond, that means learning to live and work with machines and artificial intelligence.
As daunting as technology can sometimes be, the best way forward to is to focus on the ways it helps marketers achieve goals. Whether it’s banging two rocks together or helping machines learn, humanity has always been about finding better ways to get things done.
As marketers, do you think artificial intelligence makes you more efficient? Or are you worried about what the future holds?
We’re excited about the possibilities of AI and content marketing but we’d love to hear your thoughts too!