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Marketers see huge AI potential—they just don’t understand it

by | May 11, 2018 | Marketing, Public Relations

New research from AI-powered cross-channel marketing firm Blueshift shows that artificial intelligence is top of mind for marketers—over 80 percent of them using some AI techniques today and almost two out of three (64 percent) looking to expand use of AI in the next twelve months—but that doesn’t mean they understand it.

The problem is, the effectiveness of AI depends on the customer data used to drive the AI algorithms and almost all respondents (92 percent) are struggling to either access, unify or analyze their customer data—hindering the effectiveness of their AI-driven marketing campaigns.

The use of AI in marketing remains rudimentary

Though more than 80 percent of marketers are using some form of AI, few have deployed advanced capabilities. Today’s AI use is largely focused on audience expansion and targeting using techniques like “lookalike expansion”—finding new audiences by targeting those with traits similar to existing audiences—on the large advertising networks.

Only six percent of all respondents were using collaborative filtering (automated predictions about user interests) and predictive modeling techniques (forecasting outcomes) and only 16 percent used advanced segmentation technologies like predictive affinities on their own data to market more effectively and precisely to customers.

Marketers see huge AI potential—they just don’t understand it

Marketer control and advanced access to data unlocks AI potential

Marketers who control their own data access, without having to go through IT, also activate and use more of their own data. Those who had such access and control were 60 percent more likely to be using a majority of their customer data in their AI-driven campaigns.

These marketers were also two to three times more likely to use advanced AI techniques like collaborative filtering and predictive modeling. And companies in which marketers activate and use more than 75 percent of their customer data are 40 percent more likely to exceed revenue targets than those that had not.

Marketers see huge AI potential—they just don’t understand it

Most marketers are still struggling with their customer data

Effectively using a company’s own customer data (first-party data) for AI-driven marketing campaigns is perhaps the biggest hurdle facing marketers. Almost all respondents (92 percent) in the study identified one or more of three factors—access, unification, or analysis—as a major challenge, resulting in a majority of marketers using less than 50 percent of their own customer data.

Marketers see huge AI potential—they just don’t understand it

“This study was illuminating in many respects,” said Vijay Chittoor, co-founder & CEO of Blueshift, in a news release. “While it showed that marketers are extremely interested in expanding their use of AI to increase their marketing performance, it also illustrated the degree to which marketers are missing the potential of using their own customer data to fulfill those aspirations.” He added, “Our advice to all marketers is to focus on the permission based customer data they already have and put that data to work using AI.”

Study highlights:

  • The survey of 200 marketing executives and practitioners from 198 companies reveals that artificial intelligence (AI) is top of mind for most marketers with 64 percent planning to increase their use of AI in the next 12 months.
  • Eighty percent of marketers are using some AI techniques, but fewer than one in six is using advanced AI capabilities such as predictive affinities for segmentation or collaborative filtering for personalization.
  • Marketers who control advanced access to data, bypassing IT, are two to three times more likely to deploy leading-edge AI techniques.
  • Successful data activation and use of advanced AI techniques for marketing correlates with revenue success.
  • However, 92 percent of marketers still struggle with access, unification or analysis of their customer data, hindering their AI efforts.

Download the report here.

Commissioned by Blueshift, Inc., the study, “Activating Customer Data for AI Powered Marketing,” was conducted by independent research company TechValidate (by SurveyMonkey). The 200 respondents were marketers ranging from CMOs to individual practitioners from 198 business-to-consumer organizations across several industries in North America.

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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