What can marketers do when they’re in the market for “smarter” technology for their martech stacks beyond Google Search?

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SwissCognitiveThey need to work, and it’s a lot. For marketers on the hunt for “smarter” technology, nothing will come easy in terms of selection. If you’re a marketer thinking of investing in AI capabilities, experts told CMSWire you’ll need a deep, thoughtful selection process that includes knowing how smart your vendor’s technology actually is, who’s on their team for engineers, what specific uses case you want to improve and knowing the impacts on your marketing organization in the near- and long-term.

“You really have to be able to ask different questions to these vendors,” said Paul Roetzer, founder and CEO of PR 20/20 and creator of the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute. “At the end of the day, is it smarter technology than what you have now? You don’t go buy AI technology. You’re not trying to find an AI solution. You’re trying to find a smarter solution to a problem you have or an activity you’re trying to execute.”

Where Marketers Find AI Valuable

There is no denying marketers have already invested in AI capabilities for their marketing stacks. Gartner’s 2018 Marketing Technology Survey found 41% of marketers use AI or machine learning to support predictive analytics. That was the number one answer ahead of:

  • Marketing campaign decisioning (34%)
  • Text analytics (31%)
  • Personalization (30%)
  • Prescriptive analytics (27%)
  • Diagnostic analytics (27%)
  • Conversational user interfaces (26%)
  • Object detection/recognition (23%)
  • Speech recognition (23%)
  • Machine translation/localization (23%)
  • Paid media optimization (20%)
  • Logo detection/recognition (19%)
  • Facial detection/recognition (19%)
  • Emotion detection/recognition (16%)

And, according to the IDC, the AI software platforms market experienced steady growth in 2018, growing 26.6% to $2.6 billion. “AI thrives in conditions where there is an abundance of cause-and-effect data, a large number of possible actions, and little time to analyze complex decisions. Marketers routinely struggle with these kinds of conditions, so marketing is fertile ground for AI solutions,” Gartner found in their “Cool Vendors in AI for Marketing Report.” Gartner profiled what it found as “new and innovative vendors” in that report: conDati, Course5 Intelligence and YouScan, by no means, in Gartner’s own words, an exhaustive list. But it does demonstrate there are vendors focusing on AI in marketing.

Recognize the Iterative Experience

Yet still, despite the “cool” technology emerging, marketers have a long way to go — and a lot of work to do — in truly understanding what AI and machine learning can do for their marketing processes and campaigns, according to McGuire. “Don’t get totally disillusioned with this,” McGuire cautioned marketers about investing in AI capabilities, “This is going to be an ongoing, iterative experience. You’re going to find some applications of AI, but it’s a matter of maintaining balance, if you will. If you’re a marketing technology executive, keep your eye on the long term, don’t get caught up in the negative stories, but take them in context… We have to figure out as marketers and as organized societies how we want to deal with this technology. We’re still kind learning as we go.”

AI in Marketing Won’t Change Everything

The first thing in integrating some form of smart software into your martech stack is to recognize you can’t just build around AI to “change everything,” according to McGuire. “It needs to learn before it can work with us across all of our marketing disciplines,” McGuire said. “But as far as an investment, if you’ve got an existing martech stack, adding some of those AI capabilities can be really particularly useful, especially if we can start reducing very manual processes we’ve done in the past.”

However, he added, marketers need to understand that just because your new smart technology builds around a core use case, it may not be ready to integrate with an execution system that sends messages, for instance. “That’s important for the buyer to understand: if we’re starting with it as the core and we’re building some of our other marketing requirements on top of that, that could take a while. So it’s about trying to understand what it is you’re really trying to accomplish with it, because … it’s not going to fix everything right now.” […]

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