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Marketers: AI will make clicks less relevant

Illustration Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Artificial intelligence will help marketers figure out which measures of success actually work, AI experts agreed at Nielsen's Consumer 360 annual event Friday.

Why it matters: For decades, dated metrics of marketing success, like click-through rates, have been used to justify ad spending and other marketing investments. Now, AI will help marketers understand what motivates someone to buy or take action on something, and that may not always be a click.

Quote"Even though our industry looks at clicks and other proxy measures as standards, when you apply AI and machine learning to that you realize they have very little to do with that outcome."
— Jack Smith, Chief Product Officer, GroupM, North America

The main use cases of AI in marketing will vary depending on a marketer's desired outcome, says Smith.

  • For ad platforms, like The Trade Desk, artificial intelligence will help optimize their clients' ad campaigns.
  • For agencies, it will also help manage big ad campaigns. "The first use case of AI was in campaign management and optimization," says Smith.
  • For technology companies, like IBM Watson, AI will help identify where consumers are in order to target them better.

AI is already driving big results, according to some executives.

"Some campaigns are up to 70% more efficient. On average, most campaigns are 35% more efficient ... There are real results coming out of that."
— Mark Simpson, VP of Offering Management for Watson Marketing at IBM

What's next? AI will create endless opportunities for marketers, from making better ads to measuring them more accurately. Other outcomes include:

  • New types of data: "What you’ll start to see is creation of synthetic data," says Damian Garbaccio, EVP of Advertiser Direct and Marketing Cloud at Nielsen.
  • Better content: "We partner with creative companies to use AI to produce content," says Simpson.
  • And more personal customer interactions: "What if the experience was so good that you could get complex questions answered by the computer?" asks Rajen Sheth, Senior Director of Product Management (AI), Google Cloud. Sheth says in the future, AI will help businesses get to know customers personally and automatically market to them accordingly.
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