In this episode, Christian and Ben sit down to discuss the world of AI technology, its role in transforming the way we work as marketers and their advice for integrating AI to enhance campaign efficiencies.
Available to listen here .
Hello and welcome to Unmuddled. The podcast from The Kite factory media. In each episode, we take a topic from the world of marketing and media and simply unmute it, giving you the key information you need to know. I’m Christian Taylor, head of planning at the Kite factory, and I’m joined by our managing. Partner of digital. Ben Foster and today we’re unveiling the topic of artificial intelligence in marketing. I’m really excited to be here today, Ben. Hello. Welcome to the podcast. Great to be here. Great to be here. We’ve worked together in the industry. Was it over? Eight years now. I think it’s. My year anniversary in March. So yeah, just under. Amazing. So we’ve worked together 8 years. We actually worked together in the digital team for a long part of that. And we often found ourselves discussing technological advances in the sector most of the time at the Marquis of Granby and in Rathbone Place. I think so. It’s really great to be discussing technology and the advances that we’re seeing. On a podcast with you today saying. It’s a it’s a bit early for a pint, but so artificial intelligence, Ben, what’s? It’s obviously a big topic at the moment, but. Give give us some. Top context in terms of artificial intelligence in the sector of marketing that we’ve sort of seen over the past decade or so. I think we’ve been talking about all things AI actually for quite a long time now, but. In a lot of user cases, it’s not actually been artificial intelligence, it’s more been machine learning. So the machine learning is absolutely amazing at crunching huge volumes of data from lots of different data sources and making decisions that the human brain just possibly couldn’t. Just the sheer volume and how much time it would take. But you know, a lot of the people have claimed that that is AI. Now AI more is where things can then take it a step forward, think more like a human brain, make take some leaps of connecting certain things together, et cetera. So there obviously have been some organisations that have been doing that. The the big players, the Facebooks, the Googles of this world, the the way that they’ve built their technology stacks very much uses AI in its truest form and to its maximum potential. I mean, I remember a few years ago there. Was an probably an urban myth that went round that there, that there had been 2-8 pieces of AI in Google that had started speaking to each other and invented their own language that no one else could understand and they had to shut them down because they were too scared of what it might do. So. I think that that that’s, that’s where I can get to. It’s able to learn, develop, go beyond just the the inputs you’re putting in and and I think that we’ve already been using it in awful. In being able to identify potential customers for clients and and target them in a much more advanced way than we were able to previously through contextual and things like that. Yeah, I I agree. It’s as over the years we’ve seen ad tech sort of introduce the the language. I say I say the language in their marketing, they talk about artificial intelligence a lot and that’s every like you say everything from two biggest companies in the world in advertising technology, Facebook, Google but it stretches to some of the others as well. Things like sales force, I know all the CRM platforms utilise it as well for. And it tends to be like you say in the back end of those technologies from a marketers perspective, you kind of see you don’t really see it happening. It just sort of helps you improve the the things that you’re doing, whether that is trying to make a display advert, convert better or reach more customers more effectively. It’s been that sort of. Iterative technology, which has been constantly improving over time, so we’ve been doing it for years in in one sense, but the topic sort of exploded a little bit over the last six months, even last 12 months or so. Walk in one of the sort of research. Organisations within the sector, they run an annual survey at the end of each year, sort of looking to the year ahead and they ask, I think it’s over 1700 marketing executives to sort of think about the trends of the year ahead. And when asked back in November 2022, which emerging technologies they expect to be most important in 2023. 42% of them said artificial intelligence, and it has been the top of that survey since 2020 and I think it’s it’s interesting to unpick why there’s been this refocus on artificial intelligence. So, but what? What do you think? At the moment, AI has been sort of such a hot topic. I just think there’s been a huge step change in the way that we’re using it like like you just mentioned, it was largely in the background. It was the, the the sort of engine that powered things. But the market is sort of. Didn’t really use it. You know, in terms of almost customer facing ways to create, whether that’s, you know, content or whatever else. The new wave of technology that’s come out in the last few months has completely flipped that, and it’s actually started being used for things that you would use in your marketing that are very much going in front of your target audience in, in various guides. That is a complete a complete shift in the way that we’re using it. And that’s why it’s shaking things up so much. Yeah. So I think there’s couple of technology releases that you may have heard of. So dual E is the sort of image generation technology. So you can sort of type in there. A request for any kind of image in any kind of style, and it sort of takes all of the background sort of images that it has available to itself and recreates a new image. Similarly ChatGPT, which is part of the open AI technology they made the tool available. To everyone for free back in November 2022, it had a bit of a splash. You would have seen it in the sort of consumer press. Essentially, if you’ve had the chance to use it or not, it’s a natural language chat tool, so again you sort of type in questions or requests and it sort of comes back with an instant response which is written in a conversational style. I think 1,000,000 people signed up within the first week and it’s been a real game changer in terms of some of the technologies like you say. It’s that interface that has changed and some of the outputs now are both image and text. And what’s really interesting is how important they are to marketing and their sort of activities that we do within the sector. So thinking about those two use cases. It’s going to kind of change. It’s starting to change the narrative and how it will affect marketing. Then what are some of the ways that AI do you think will change marketing in? The next 12 months. So I think that the first thing here is that. This is a huge step change. This isn’t an incremental sort of improvement on existing technology etcetera. This is a complete step change. However, like any thing where we have a big leap forward in technology and you’re looking at the 1st. It is far from perfect yet, right? So I think that what this technology has the opportunity to do is to take away a lot of the mundane monotonous labour intensive tasks that we have within marketing that are largely volume. Based less necessarily about quality. Very, you know repetitive. Et cetera. But we still need to be wary of the quality control that that goes on within that because as I say, this is so new and it will improve very rapidly. It will, it will get better and better at it and quite frankly, an alarming rate. But as we are sitting here right now, I think that what it can do is you can start looking at tasks that. You’re just doing over and over again. I mean, great example would be something like meta descriptions in SEO that the the the user doesn’t actually see. Obviously, the whole point of those is that Google can call them and understand what that page is all about. Normally you would have a very junior person sitting there understanding the page. Content writing these up using best practise to for what Google would look for and to get the most out of it and creating. You know, hundreds of these for your website. This is where that sort of technology comes in and automates those sorts of jobs. Oops. And you are just then refining rather than starting from scratch. You touched on a very good point there and I think you know in my excitement about chat TPT, there are obviously some flaws in its technology at the moment. So what’s been fascinating, sort of following some individuals who are starting to use it and even using it myself, is that it comes back with sort of these conversational style. Answers with such confidence that you almost think guaranteed that it’s correct, but actually there’s some stuff that it comes back with which is complete rubbish and and completely wrong and it is simply using. The content that it has available to itself to sort of spit out answers. So there’s a there’s an element of. It will save time to do tasks, but there is still there’s a new role for individuals within who are using these tools, which is essentially sense checking the outputs of it and ensuring that. The facts are true and also the outputs are you know. Relevant to the tasks that you’re doing as well. So you touched on meta descriptions. One of the other things that we’re sort of seeing that might be interesting for is what we were discussing previously and I think actually what it really helps with is, is what we might call like blank page syndrome where you just need a starting point and it. Can be really good. For a jump off so you can ask these tools to sort of come up with 10 e-mail headlines related to the topic of, you know, electric vehicle for example, and it sort of gives you 10 e-mail headlines, really well written which you can then jump off and start to Create an e-mail journey for your customers. But you can be really descriptive around these things as well, and it can help shape those other things. Where else are we sort of seeing opportunities within the marketing environment at the moment? I would say in terms of website design and things like that and and and again just. Where we are producing things like blog content and and and you’ve got a sheer volume of stuff that you you need to get out and you need to obviously be putting out emails periodically to your customers as well in your CRM programme. And and it can be hard to come up with those ideas. And as you said, you can use it as a jump off. But equally hard to constantly write these things up. I think that. These sorts of areas are where the technology is going to come into its own. But I also think that. It’s playing a very different role to what we thought it would a few few years ago and I, you know, in terms of we thought it would just be in the background very much doing these monotonous tasks, but it’s actually a lot more creative. Exactly. I it’s a. It’s a very good point. I think there was. A listening to Sam Altman, who is the founder of open AI and and The Who produced chat, ChatGPT, and I think. If you went back decades ago. We all thought of AI as sort of. Taking jobs away from the sort of less skilled labour tasks and sort of working their way up through into skilled and then, you know, eventually you know those that who do art and sort of written creative industries were protected because that is a human thing only humans can do. But interestingly it’s it’s literally flipped reversed. And it’s those things like blog content writing, journalism, illustrations for websites, you know, graphic design, which actually, if you just need a simple illustration to sort of show what your website does on a. Landing page or. Those sorts of things it I can see tools that are that are able to to sort of develop those sorts of things in an instant. And I know already. I’m starting to see in my Twitter feed startups come from individuals who are using open AI to create tools. I think copy dot AI is one that that that’s come up recently. Which will help you do all of these tasks that we’re starting to describe. So it’s the sort of the things like website design, it’s landing page copy, it’s your copy for your paid search ads. Essentially all of those things that. I think like you say, used to be sort of tight quite time consuming for a lot of individuals within the marketing sector. So that’s the now and I think there are starting to be some use cases. Of course we’ve got to be careful in terms of sense checking the outputs. So thinking ahead what how would the technology improve over time and and what do you think that? Means for marketing. I think it. Means quite a lot, really in terms of the impact is going to be felt. It might not be immediate. I think that sometimes we can think that a bit like the old year of the mobile all those years ago, these things are going to have an. Instant huge, you know. That impact across the way that we work and people behave and it takes a bit more time than we thought it might, but it will have a huge impact. And I do think Google are worried. I think Google are worried they may not outwardly say that, and and they may sort of be putting on a brave face about. It all but. I think that the Google model is under threat from from things like this. They’ve already seen the younger generation start using things like TikTok as the way they research things rather than going to Google, and this is just another. A way that people can interact with a completely different platform to get what they need and it will steal the Google market share. I mean, you’ve seen Microsoft jumped all over it. They’re already looking to integrate all things, you know, chat into, you know, their search engines and the way that they. They work, so I think Google will be all over this because they don’t have a great track record. Are being able to move into these spaces. How many social platforms have they tried to launch and fail before they finally gave up? You know, so I think that they will be looking at this very, very closely. Yeah, I agree. I think there are some companies that are really well placed to take advantage of it. I know within these organisations it’s already a huge focus, so. That chunk, you’re right, is is tools like ChatGPT to the TikTok to to to meta sort of what the chat TPT is to. Potentially I can see a world where there are searches that you go to for a tool more like a an AI based conversational response rather than you go to Google for a sort of list of of links that you can click on and you’ve got this sort of choice to. Choose around as well. What about team structures? Can you see this impacting a sort of a marketing team structure or an agency structure as well? Yeah, again, definitely on both fronts. To be honest. I think that everything we’ve just talked about from an agency perspective staff with. We’ve always looked at pyramid structures in terms of, you know, fewer people at the senior levels and and more and more of the further down you go. But if we are starting to automate increasingly automate, which we’ve already seen a lot of automation. But this AI I think is, you know, game changer in the level of automation at that junior level and the task. You could basically have a far more. Linear structure, where there’s similar numbers of people at all levels, so there’s far fewer people coming into agency roles at the start and working their way up because they’re and they’re learning a completely different skill set of tasks that used to be done quite manually. Now the skill is how do you get the most out of AI to give you what you need. Rather than actually produce the work, and obviously you need less people to do that. So I think that we will see an impact on on agencies and I do think we will see an impact on clients as well in a very similar way. The skill sets will change. The IT will be about how do you deliver even more than ever quality over quantity, because the quantity elements will be automated and the and and things and so. And the skill sets that you will need to be a marketeer will become increasingly technical and technological as well. As we just talked about, because we thought it would become more creative, but if anything, that’s the bit that seems to be the AI seems to be replacing first. So yeah, I think the marketeers will become. Even more technical than they are already and and work in completely different ways. And yeah, it could be smaller teams to be honest. Yeah, I I think there’s definitely a world where you start to consider certainly within the next 12 months, how can these tools start to streamline workflows within your team within your agency, within your, your marketing team internally as well. And then? As these tools improve, which I’m so excited to see and new ones are launched, you know, what are the opportunities so but and think about the next 12 months, what how would you, what would your advice be to a marketing executive or even an agency individual? In terms of thinking about integrating artificial intelligence into the work that they do. I think the first thing is just the brilliance of these tools is you can go and have a play with them. Yeah, there’s no barrier to entry here whatsoever. And and you can just, yeah, play with them and mess around with them. Ask, obviously, ask it, you know, non work related questions have a bit. Of fun with it. And and you know and see what it comes back with and you start understanding how you’d be able to use it. We’ve already talked through in so many different ways, whether it’s the automation of a mundane task, whether it is a an ideation jump off point. So I think that once people understand the. Plethora of all the. Ways that this technology can be used. Used then it’s only you know changing behaviours is always the hardest thing you get ingrained in certain ways of working and patterns. But once people understand that this can actually make their life easier, everyone’s gonna obviously jump on it. And and I think that also. Sometimes we can be restricted in marketing because of time or financial constraints, and this is a massive one in terms of creative right. So we know that, let’s say some of the creative is very good, but it’s getting tired and the response rates are going down, no budget to go out and do a new photo shoot and to create load more imagery for your for your social campaigns. Well, the beauty of this technology is that it could come up with variations using the content you already have. To just freshen it up and get those engagement rates back up again and I see things you, you know more sort of entry level user cases like that is what people gotta get used to and and really start. Boring. So really, it’s having sort of a curiosity, a a mindset where you’re sort of open to this technology because I think you’re right, the significance of it is so huge. Just having that sort of time to step back, see what the opportunities. By yourself in your sort of day-to-day now and then thinking about how we can sort of integrate some of these tools as well? I think for for us as well, you know, just thinking about us as an agency it’s it’s on our agenda both that sort of you know across every sort of level of the organisation and thinking about how we integrate it. It’s gonna be one of those times again where we’re gonna get so many organisations that are coming to us and sort of introducing their new technology, which is now powered by some of these tools. Again, it’s going to be opening the door to sort of speak to them, see how you can improve your workflows and just keeping ahead as well. Because there are going to be new agencies, there are going to be new teams. That are built around these tools as well so. I think the real sort of key for us and that maybe the takeaway for today’s podcast is, is that curiosity in terms of the topic of artificial intelligence and marketing. Well, Ben has been an absolute pleasure to chat with you today on the podcast. Thanks for joining us. Yeah, it’s been great. And if you’ve enjoyed the podcast today, then please subscribe. Thanks for listening, and catch us in the next episode.