MSI Research Competition


The Marketing Science Institute announces an initiative based on its 2020-2022 Research Priorities; Deadline 1 Feb 2021


Author: ELMAR Moderator

Announcing MSI Research Competition and Call for Proposals

The Marketing Science Institute is pleased to announce a new initiative for its recently announced 2020-2022 Research Priorities.

New data sources and decision support systems powered by machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) can improve marketing and enhance customer experience but may also raise concerns about privacy and fairness. In keeping with MSI’s mission to advance marketing science in emerging key areas of practice, we are pleased to announce this Research Competition and Call for Proposals:

The Brave New World of Marketing Automation (e.g., AI, ML): Promise and Pitfalls

Achieving its full promise will require understanding how managers will actually use marketing automation.  An algorithm is only as good as its data. Restrictions on behavioral tracking data and disruptions in consumer behavior such as COVID-19 make predictions harder than ever.

Avoiding the pitfalls of marketing automation will require understanding how people will respond.  Public trust in major institutions is at an all-time low.  Ensuring equity and perceived fairness of algorithm-based outcomes will be essential to achieving public acceptance.

MSI therefore welcomes proposals from both data and behavioral scientists on topics such as (but not limited to) the following from our 2020-2022 Research Priorities:

  • How do we keep a focus on long-term value creation in a data-driven world? Will new sources of data and analytics (e.g., AI and machine learning) make this better or worse?
  • Are there ethical issues that companies need to address as they develop strategies to maximize customer lifetime value and treat customers differentially?
  • How can firms ensure brand safety (e.g., not advertising on controversial sites) amidst proliferating sites, automated buying, and advertising markets?
  • How can artificial intelligence (AI) be used for better advertising (and customer) engagement?
  • What can we learn about the human/tech interface when voice-activated interaction (e.g., Alexa) becomes the norm? How does this process change the customer decision-making process?
  • In the age of GDPR and the increasing importance of preserving customers’ privacy, what is the appropriate tradeoff between privacy and personalization, and what are the ethical ramifications of customer data collection and use? How will regulation/compliance affect marketing?
  • How do AI and ML insights affect customer decision-making? How does the marketer make sure that customers’ best interests are represented in the results? How can we build in ethical considerations into the algorithms?
  • What are the current best practices in machine learning and large data to inform marketing decision making?
  • What approaches exist to capture and analyze non-structured data such as video, voice, and text in order to improve firm communications and the customer experience?
  • How will consumer behavior change in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath?
  • How is the value of brand affected by the practice of micro-targeting and personalization? If the offer is entirely personalized, what is the meaning of the brand?
  • What approaches should be used to develop automated/programmatic campaigns with real-time data?
  • How can you unify the data across different media venues and different sources? What are the harmonizing techniques?
  • What is the right trade-off between self-service and personal channels?
  • How can we mitigate the “creepiness factor” in targeting?
  • What KPIs best capture behavior, attitudes, and values? Will hard metrics (e.g., operational data such as call enter time on hold) sweep away soft (e.g., customer satisfaction with call)?
  • What organizational structures enable the development of new marketing skills in new environments (such as artificial intelligence)?

Submission Process
The submission process follows MSI’s standard research grant process, beginning with a brief pre-proposal submission. Please make your submission here. The MSI Research Committee in conjunction our partners, Wharton Customer Analytics and AI for Business at Wharton will evaluate these submissions and encourage a subset for further proposal development and potential funding. Pre-proposals must be submitted by February 1st, 2021.


Barbara Kahn, Executive Director
Marketing Science Institute

Sherry Pincus, Research Program Director
Marketing Science Institute