Killer robots, sex robots and AI

Monday Marketing Minute

I was planning on writing this Monday's Marketing Minute on the impact of AI on marketing and then got distracted by tonight's Q&A on the ABC, which happened to be about the rise of AI, robots, and for some reason particularly sex robots and killer robots. If you've seen any Austin Powers films you'll know that they can be both at the same time.

Society clearly has some major issues to face as AI and robotics continue to advance, but looking at how AI is affecting marketing, it's already here. It's just not quite at that stage where it is either really understandable or affordable by any business other than the very large or the very 'tech' (subject to my comments below!).

I heard recently that RedBalloon, run by Shark Tank shark Naomi Simson is currently using IBM's Watson, described by IBM themselves as 'deep learning AI for business', to optimise their advertising on Google Adwords (now renamed simply Google Ads). Given that Google Ads is run by computers, it seems like humans are largely out of the equation here!

Both major online advertising platforms - Google and Facebook - have offered automated services to help advertisers optimise their advertising for quite a while now. And they are continuing to improve these - now when you create a new ad or series of ads on Facebook the system tells you it is 'learning' from its experiences.

Google similarly has for a long time offered to show your most effective ad more frequently than the others, and recently introduced an option whereby you give it a selection of headlines and main text snippets (all of which need to be able to work with each other) and Google then mixes and matches them until it finds the version which produces the best results.

Doing all of the required testing and measuring to truly optimise ads in Google is time consuming and difficult, given the huge range of variables involved, and so if AI makes this process any easier I for one welcome it.

However you have to remember Google is in business to make money and its main revenue stream is its ads, so it has a fundamental drive to 1) keep advertisers and 2) maximise revenue and profit, and for these reasons anyone advertising on Google needs to be vigilant...

So in a way AI is already here in marketing and advertising. The true turning point will be when there is no human involvement in the process at all - Mad Men replaced by Mad Robots. Now that'll be interesting. We'll all - in theory - be able to go to the beach and sip cocktails and let the robots get on with it. The big issue is - if nobody's working, nobody will be earning any money to buy the stuff we (and our robots) want to sell. We probably don't need to worry about this right now, but we will need to fairly soon.

Image credit (fembot): https://www.flickr.com/photos/28277470@N05/