The Wednesday Stack: Gartner's View of AI

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To get a wider perspective on AI in marketing, present and future, I spoke with Martha Mathers, marketing practice leader at Gartner. She sees an impact on productivity within marketing teams as well as the customer-facing side. "I'm seeing companies use AI to really try and fill the content gap that things like personalization have created." For example, taking "mega-assets" and feeding them to the machine to generate a multiplicity of new assets." Another internal area is seller productivity: "We've seen a couple of companies that use AI to push add-on recommendations based on the flow of a conversation, to increase deal size. Also on B2B, we've seen folks use things like natural language processing and machine learning to help direct conversation during the course of a call. There's some pretty neat impact there, I think."

Earlier this week, we published a cautionary observation by Omer Artun to the effect that creative can't be left up to machines. "I would tend to agree that the core of the creative ideas, or the direction of the imagery and the assets you use, you might want a human touch there. But I would think that once you have a parent piece of content, you could then allow the machine to do some versioning for different segments, or tweaking it based on some kind of data. You can let the machine go, but you might want to have a human circle back and look at what it's producing."

Artun had emphasized B2C; Mathers has also seen an impact on the B2B side, not just in seller conversations, but also lead generation and pipeline management. "We've seen some interesting technologies out there that can help through lookalike modeling to identify the types of leads that are likely to perform better and get to sales qualification more quickly."

And what about the future? "I think there are huge opportunities on the customer understanding side of things, in terms of the speed with which you can learn helpful information that might shape the way you're communicating, and the types of offers you're making the most significant bets on. On the B2B side, I see some impact on how we manage networks, and the type of context marketers are able to provide around leads to sellers."

How much will all this change marketers' daily working lives? "I think the focus of work could shift, and that mirrors how hiring trends are taking shape today with more of a focus on the science; analytical skills, technical skills, and the ability to pull insights quickly from data. But I don't think the art is ever going away." What's more, it will be important to consider how far personalization and tailored messaging should be pushed. "You're going to need people to make the right calls as to how much you take advantage of the tools and technology."

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March Madness is in full swing and if the first round was any indicator, it's going to a mad wacky tournament season. Top teams have been dropping like flies, but brands like Google and Adobe have been cashing in on the data possibilities. Google Cloud has partnered with the NCAA to present in-game stats and Adobe has opened up Adobe Analytics for public use for the first time ever! 

Now, we can argue all day long to the accuracy of data in college basketball, but Adobe Analytics claims to provide a unique platform to build your best possible bracket – statistically speaking, of course. — Hillary Adler

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We spoke with Acquia, a digital experience platform that's expanding its eCommerce offerings with the release of their Commerce Manager, integrating Magneto Commerce capabilities into their suite of content creation and analytics tools. The platform is intended to help make content opportunity identification and execution workflow more seamless for eCommerce marketing teams, as the need for more personal messaging becomes central to the success of digital storefronts.

“We sit in a very interesting place,” David Aponovich, senior director, product marketing, said, as we discussed the convergence of digital and brick-and-mortar, and where Acquia plays a role. “We're right in the middle of everything that's going on in the space.” – Amy Onorato 

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What's that winging its way over the virtual transom? Oh yes, this week's news in brief.

  • Aprimo, known for marketing ops and its DAM offering, steps forward with new content marketing capabilities under the heading Aprimo Idea Lab. The Lab will provide a collaborative workspace with planning and calendar features, helping teams to "ideate" faster at an early stage of the creative process. The cloud-based solution will enable full lifecycle content marketing management, at scale.
  • RedPoint Global is partnering with PossibleNow, the customer preference and consent solution, to address the challenge of GDPR. MyPreferences, from PossibleNow, enables collection and management of customer consent at a granular level, and – importantly – maintains the history of consent (and revocation).
  • Direct Mail continues its digital maturation with Barometric's launch of "holistic" online and offline tracking of engagement and conversion. The strategy matches data from the platform's 90 million household identity graph, with simple pixel technology which gives visibility into online behavior.
  • Sentiment analysis vendor Lexalytics is already on top of the eleventh iteration of the Unicode emoji list, set for release in June. It's standing by to tell you, automatically and at scale, and from day one, whether customers are expressing "pleading face," "goggles," or even "roll of toilet paper" at your brand. 

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