The future of AI in marketing

20 February 2023

With the rise of ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence tools, AI in marketing is having what you might call a ‘moment’. And following Google’s recent announcement of a new AI-powered service called Bard, it seems we may be entering a new era of machine-powered marketing, including the use of AI in SEO. But what do all these changes mean, and what will digital marketing look like as a result? 

At Wagada Digital, we’re always excited to learn about new technologies and how they can help our clients to promote their businesses. So we’ve produced this comprehensive introduction to AI in digital marketing, suitable for any business currently considering AI as an addition to their marketing resources. 

The guide will:

What is AI? 

AI isn’t just ChatGPT. There’s so much more to it than that!

In short, AI (artificial intelligence) is the use of machines to simulate human learning. While of course computers don’t ‘think’ in the same way as humans, the advanced machines we use today can definitely learn for themselves.

That might sound futuristic or even a bit spooky, and it’s true that the idea of AI has been a mainstay of science fiction since Frankenstein’s monster. But as 21st century citizens, the majority of us have been making use of AI in our everyday lives for some time now – even if we weren’t aware of it. 

For example, when you log on to Instagram, buy on Amazon or open up Netflix, you get a personalised feed based on your interests and behaviour. There isn’t a person sitting behind the scenes making decisions on what to show you. Instead, AI has got to know your preferences and learned what you would like to see.

Netflix AI serving suggested watchlist

AI is also widely used in fields like cybersecurity, where machines can detect suspicious behaviour and take action accordingly. If you’ve ever had your credit card stopped due to unusual activity, that was likely down to AI. 

And in the future? From driverless cars and avatars in the Metaverse, to creating a clone of your voice, it’s becoming very clear that AI will make amazing things happen.

How does AI work? 

In the old days of computing and up to the beginning of the 21st century, computers were ‘dumb’ machines, albeit very impressive and useful ones. They could only do what you programmed them to do. 

Artificial intelligence changes all of that.

AI works by exposing computers to a huge amount of data, letting them gather that information, ‘make sense’ of it and use that intelligence to take new actions.

Google Translate is a good example of how AI works. The language tool has been ‘trained’ through exposure to a vast amount of content in different languages, which has enabled it to learn.

Of course, AI is only as good as the information it is fed – so it is liable to make mistakes. One way that Google tries to make the translations better is to have humans give feedback on the results – another source of data for the AI to learn from. 

Similarly, at the time of writing, ChatGPT is still in its ‘research release’, meaning that the interactions it has with humans are being used as a kind of training, to hone its abilities. You are given the opportunity to to give a ‘thumbs up’ or a ‘thumbs down’ to its responses, to help with the process.

What does the rise of AI mean for my business?

There’s no doubt that the availability of AI tools will revolutionise the way we live – including how we do business, and how we engage in marketing activity.

In many areas, it’s likely that AI will be able to save you time and resources. For example:

  • Performing checks to catch human errors
  • Analysing data to spot patterns that you might not otherwise be able to detect
  • Reacting to changing circumstances to allocate resources efficiently
  • Carrying out basic customer service tasks (if you’ve used a chatbot instead of calling a company, you’ve experienced this already)
  • Potentially taking on some of the others tasks currently done by humans

AI tools will also be there to help you (or an agency like Wagada Digital) to market and promote your products or services.

How can AI be harnessed in digital marketing?

Right now, at the beginning of 2023, it seems that every day there is a new and exciting development in AI for marketing. Google ‘AI marketing tools’ and you’ll be presented with an ever-growing array of new additions to the market, all vying for your attention. We won’t attempt to list them all here. 

ChatGPT AI platform for marketing

The potential of AI is astounding, and it will also make it possible to carry out digital marketing activities in a way that feels revolutionary. Take these AI marketing use cases for example:

  • Generate digital imagery for free, in a matter of seconds, with tools like dall.E2 and Craiyon
  • Brainstorm slogan and messaging ideas for your business
  • Create original content from scratch at the touch of a button, using ChatGPT, Jasper and other content creation tools
  • Generate AI-voiced audio and video content
  • Populate product descriptions and meta data
  • Carry out keyword research and get new ideas for keywords
  • Create online ad content
  • Write and debug code, quickly and efficiently

But hang on – where does that leave us humans? Just like almost every other industry, AI represents a massive shakeup in the digital marketing field, perhaps making some tasks, and even entire job roles, potentially redundant. But as digital marketing professionals who have always placed great value on the human element of our approach, we’re confident that there will still be a big role for us to play, however advanced AI becomes. 

Because AI marketing is a newer tool in the digital marketer’s toolbox, definitive best practices haven’t yet been established to guide marketing teams’ initial deployments. Every business should think about the long-term effects of implementing AI, not just the short-term benefits they could reap. Below we’ll consider some of the potential pitfalls of using AI without a comprehensive strategy.

AI tools are only as good as the person at the helm

Will AI replace humans? We think not.

The potential of AI to save time and money seems almost too good to be true. And to a point, that’s because it is. Just as a smart home needs someone to tell it what’s needed in terms of climate control or security, and Google Maps requires a destination in order to work, AI marketing tools are still just tools. Before we use them, it’s important first to determine what we want to get out of them. And that’s often a job for a specialist.

Marketing professionals have a holistic view of a client’s entire business, and any one task will form just part of an overall marketing strategy. The point of a marketing strategy is to differentiate your business from its competitors, and make you sound different. But thanks to the very nature of AI, there’s a danger that by creating generic content that’s not specific to your brand, you could get lost in the noise.

Emily Walker discussing AI for marketing

So rather than just asking ChatGPT to write a blog about widgets, the professionals at Wagada Digital would be considering many factors, such as the target audience for the blog, the tone of voice required, the type of widgets to discuss, other pages on your site that we should link to, and the actions we’d want people to take as a result of reading the blog. We’d optimise the blog to feature particular keywords as part of the wider strategy. All tasks that still take skill, experience and time.

Accuracy and reliability issues

AI will not make fact checking a thing of the past! The tools you use may not give reliable information. For example, ChatGPT highlights that its system is not intended to give advice, and may occasionally generate:

• incorrect or misleading information (limited knowledge of world and events after 2021)

• offensive content

• harmful instructions

• biased content

Entrepreneur Elon Musk has even suggested that AI should be regulated because of the various threats it poses.

Whatever industry you work in, it’s worth bearing in mind that you probably have more specialist knowledge than the AI – so your expert eye is a better guide to reliability than your content generating tool. 

Is AI generated content against Google’s guidelines?

That’s a matter for debate, but it’s worth being cautious.

Technically, AI generated content falls under the category of ‘auto-generated content’, the rules against which were originally designed to prohibit spambots. Google’s current spam policies do now direct against ‘spammy automatically generated content’, with a specific caveat against ‘Text generated through automated processes without regard for quality or user experience’.

With user experience in mind, some say that Google’s principle of ‘helpful content’ means that it doesn’t much care who writes the content, as long as it is genuinely relevant, original and helpful to users. At this stage, Google isn’t great at detecting what has been written by AI and what is written by humans. But the actual guidance on this is murky and blurred, and you should refer to the latest updates, to ensure that you’re always on the right side of Google’s algorithms.

Google logo blurred to represent stance on AI

Another thing to consider is inadvertent plagiarism. There is always the possibility that content generated from an AI tool may be directly copied from existing sources (which is definitely an SEO no-no), or that it may closely resemble other content also generated for the same purpose. So however useful AI may be at generating all types of content, it remains advisable to always use a human editor as an intermediary before publication. 

Possible legal issues with AI generated content

This is a field that is moving really fast, and the legal system hasn’t always had a chance to catch up.

One consideration is that unless your AI marketing tools are specifically programmed to observe specific legal guidelines, they may overstep what is considered acceptable in terms of using consumer data for marketing personalisation.

The vast majority of AI applications depend on enormous volumes of data to learn and make smart decisions. AI’s core relies upon information which is delicate and personal. Because of this, these frameworks can become prone to data breaches and identity theft. 

There are also big issues around copyright. Currently, the content that you generate using AI tools belongs to you, but this may change, or AI tools may begin to charge for their services, including the right to intellectual property. Another emerging area that will become critical in the near future is the ability for artists and writers to opt out of being used in training data for AI. Copyright law has not yet caught up with AI in this matter, but who’s to say that it won’t?

How does Wagada Digital use AI in digital marketing?

Like everyone else, we’re still getting to grips with all the amazing potential and digital marketing possibilities that are opened up by AI. 

Some clients have already approached us wanting to know how AI tools could help their marketing strategy, while others aren’t so sure about the new technologies just yet.

One thing we’re excited about is the use of AI marketing tools when integrated with an existing marketing strategy, rather than being used as a stand-alone tactic. These tools create opportunities to optimise steps in a marketing strategy that might currently be labour-intensive, such as data analysis, or have a risk of inaccuracy, such as attribution. By incorporating AI to fill in these ‘blind spots’, we can not only leverage these powerful forward-thinking methods to take your marketing to the next level, but also build on the foundation of effective digital marketing methods that we’ve used in the past.

Contact us for AI marketing (with a human touch)

Whatever the future of AI and marketing, you can be sure that here at Wagada Digital we’ll always be human, passionate, flexible and honest in everything we do.

We’ll be happy to talk to you about any questions you may have, or help you with requests for AI-based marketing on a case-by-case basis. Call us on 01727 260 187, email info@wagada.co.uk or fill in our contact form to get in touch today.