After ChatGPT burst into the public domain, talk about using AI in business, and marketing specifically, increased dramatically. However, although marketers are optimistic about the implications and future of AI in marketing, the understanding of AI for marketing capabilities is limited, and usage is still relatively modest.
AMA and Kantar surveyed 184 marketers to better understand the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in marketing. The results illustrate how marketers are currently utilizing AI and the potential future of AI fueled marketing.
With the rise of AI in the news and the proliferation of tools and applications, AI is more accessible and mainstream than ever, and the use of AI could have huge implications for how marketing is done. But do marketers have the expertise to leverage AI technology to drive increased marketing effectiveness? It seems not, as 64% of marketers do not understand AI at all or only know a few things about it. This lack of knowledge is not driven by marketers seeing little potential in AI, as only 4% of marketers feel it’s just another fad. Rather, the overwhelming majority (61%) expects it to be a complete gamechanger. This knowledge gap in the understanding of AI capabilities and technology must be closed, and it might just be a matter of leadership priorities to ensure broader and deeper adoption.
Although AI knowledge is limited, our data show that organizations have already demonstrated that it can play a role in marketing; indeed, half of the respondents reported they have AI capabilities in their existing marketing platforms (e.g., media targeting, media buying, forecasting). While these capabilities exist, there is an opportunity to use AI capabilities more actively as many are not using them at all or are unsure if they’re being used.
When our respondents’ organizations do use AI, use cases vary from A/B testing for advertising elements to using it for chatbots or virtual assistants. The wide use of AI across marketing suggests it is unclear where AI can make the biggest impact, and generally AI best practices have yet to be established. However, when it comes to the advertising, the data show some consensus; in the advertising development process, agency and marketers are using AI predominantly for copy writing.
As investment in the use of AI in marketing continues to grow, organizations need to ensure their marketers have a clear and thorough understanding of how to leverage the technology to drive increased returns on marketing investments. Organizations should explore reskilling programs and initiatives to equip marketers with the proper skill set to use AI and partner with agencies that are experts in the space. The challenge organizations will face is determining on which use cases to focus their training efforts and investment. Respondents reported that half of their organizations, the marketing function is responsible for driving the implementation of AI. Given the far-reaching organizational implications, it might be worth considering cross-functional teams to ensure the deep expertise on various areas is brought on board when building the strategy and implementation. As AI’s role in marketing increases, not only will organizations need to meet the challenge of ensuring their marketers understand and use the technology, but they will also need to address potential racial bias and ethical implications of leveraging AI. Across the various use cases of AI, respondents indicated this as a key concern.
Overall, marketers are optimistic about the future of AI in marketing, and they would like to see increased development and implementation. However, interest alone isn’t enough to drive impactful adoption. A clear mandate from senior leadership seems required to drive the necessary organizational transformation.
Fieldwork was conducted August 15–October 3, 2023, and the data set consisted of 184 marketers surveyed on the topic of AI.