How humans and AI will collaborate in the future of marketing

By Ross Dawson

May 05, 2017

Over the last few years the rapidly rising capabilities of artificial intelligence have been reaching public consciousness in discussions of the future of work. Many human roles are being supplanted by machines, from physical world tasks such as driving, through to conceptual roles such as judgment and decision-making.

In the world of marketing, AI and machine learning are already being applied in a variety of domains, from the obvious applications such as optimising programmatic ad buying to billboards that evolve based on users' response and even writing scripts and music for ads.

However in marketing, as in other domains, there will remain many distinctive human capabilities where people will transcend what machines can do well.

In my Humans in the Future of Work visual below, I show the three fundamental domains - Expertise, Creativity and Relationships - where human capabilities will exceed those of machines for the foreseeable future, and the intersections between them that will define the high-value roles of the future.

A recent article in The Guardian, Brand human: why efficient automation will not always be best for business, digs into the issue of where humans will add distinctive value in branding and customer engagement, and quotes me on the key issue of how machines and humans will be combined in the successful organisations of the future.

The point is not about whether or not you replace humans with machines, but finding how they can best work together to achieve the outcomes you seek.

Undoubtedly AI will see a rapid increase in use in media buying, pushing humans to more strategic roles where they use AI recommendations to shape their strategies, and delegate specific tasks to programs that use machine learning to improve performance over time.

Creativity is no longer solely the domain of humans, with possibility generation and assessment supporting the human creative process.

The deeply relationship-based nature of marketing means people will always be fundamental, in truly understanding people, in conceiving and nurturing human communities, and in the 'human-centered design' that is at the heart of branding and marketing.

The successful marketers of the future will be those that understand the evolving capabilities of AI and humans, and let their collaboration create results that could not be generated by either working alone.

About author
Ross Dawson

Ross Dawson

Ross is CEO and Chief Futurist of Rh7thm