Artificial intelligence (AI) is here today, and getting smarter every year. With both computing power and data collection increasing exponentially, our machines are gaining on us. Within just over a decade from now they will be far more intelligent than we are.

Computers are already writing stories for major newspapers, helping doctors to search for cures for cancer, and winning game shows. In short, AI has crossed the chasm from science fiction to science fact.

But will these machines actually be sentient? They will certainly appear sentient. Over time we’ll develop relationships with them. Business relationships. Personal relationships. Emotional relationships that, even if they’re not reciprocated, will feel very real to us.

It’s time to start thinking about what this means, both for our lives and, yes, for marketing.

Although AI has largely been the domain of academics and large internet companies, it’s starting to trickle down into the consumer sphere, and that’s where the most noticeable applications will present themselves. Those applications will be largely ad-supported, meaning that marketing will be one of the first disciplines disrupted by AI.

AI-Enabled Marketing: The Implications for Marketing

The place where AI will become most visible will be in day-to-day consumer products — information-access, entertainment-centric and social-connection platforms accessed across multiple devices. And new categories of products that we cannot yet understand — potentially the more considered manifestations of IoT (Internet of Things) that offer a utility to justify the cost and the head-space required for consumers to consider them.

For premium products where the producer of content can demand it, these products will be accessed on a pay-model. But, based on what we have seen over the last decade, most of the information-access and social-connection products are most likely to be advertising and data-supported payment models.

That is why advertising, and therefore marketing, is most likely to be radically reorganised by this AI-revolution.

Although it is near-impossible to predict with accuracy how this landscape will look five to ten years from now, we can sense-out some likely scenarios using a logic-linked analysis. Put simply, if we start with what we know now, and simply ask the question “if that, then likely what?” If you ask this same question a few times you can start to see where things could go.

In this book we have started by taking a look at some of the likely products — and what they will do. We will also explore the new types of marketing and media opportunities that these products could offer up, and finally we take a broader view on what it may mean to plan marketing communications five to ten years from now.

Marketing’s AI Future

The more we depend upon AI software to handle tasks on our behalf, the more power we give to those AIs, and the smarter they will become. Ultimately, they will usher in the new world in which advertisers will need to operate. Technology will rule but creativity must not be sacrificed, despite the temptation to do so.

Optimizing to the machine will be the greatest determinant of success. Ensuring that the current disciplines of SEO, PPC and programmatic buying are being embraced and upskilled now will help in the future as these will be the most transferable skills to our new models.

Ultimately, there might be fewer messages seen, but the ones that do get seen will have been selected based on extremely specific purchasing and behavioral data about you. This will be combined with a bid price from the advertiser, a quality score for the product/service and usage data to confirm the product/service’s experience. All of which will be handled in nanoseconds by our VPAs, and served up without us knowing which brands or products narrowly missed out.

And when done well, broadcast brand communication will take the form of spectacular content and experiences, indiscernible from entertainment.