For marketers and advertisers, AI is already disrupting core functions, including ad targeting, media buying, content creation and propensity modeling.  For marketers, using AI to parse through data sets can be a handy tool to better target and reach users. In a May 2018 survey of 400 worldwide digital advertising professionals conducted by Econsultancy and MediaMath, just one-fifth of respondents said they don’t plan to use AI for audience targeting or audience segmentation. Nearly half already use AI for these purposes.

So far, marketing and advertising have been among the top early applications of AI. A 2018 survey from Accenture, SAS and Intel found that marketing functions were some of the most popular areas for deploying AI among business executives worldwide. More than 70% of respondents said they had deployed AI for external communications work, and 66% said it was currently being used in the marketing/ sales department. Marketers are expected to use AI in four main areas: segmentation, messaging, media activation and analytics. As AI continues to evolve, marketers are raising their expectations for what it can do. On the agenda includes a better understanding of what customers need and connecting the online and in-store experience.

But getting AI off the ground takes a lot of effort.  In a July 2018 survey of 200 US and European IT executives conducted by Databricks and International Data Group, 56% of respondents said that preparing large data sets is a very challenging aspect of moving AI concepts into production.

A common trap is assuming that AI will solve problems that aren’t understood well, or that it will help a business in some kind of vague, general way, as if there’s a button to press that says, “Engage my customers… better.” That’s just not how AI works, and investing in it without being clear about what is to be accomplished is a recipe for failure.  Also, it’s important to know what the capabilities are of the AI system being considered.  One thing is for sure, AI is here to stay and will be a disruptor for how advertising and marketing gets done in the future.