Man versus machine: are algorithms stronger than humans in marketing?
Marketers are used to relying primarily on human intelligence and some data to develop relationships and engagement with their customers. Today, they have to contend with the colossal volume, and the variety of data that is available, and which is almost impossible to process without the help of technology.
The last few years have dramatically changed the world of marketing: creative freedom and significant profits for marketers using technological tools. But this good news generated new questions: “If technology could replace humans in the administration of marketing campaigns, is it capable of replacing the marketer too?”.
How technology is already overtaking humans
When it comes to quantitative analysis, technology is arguably faster and more accurate than humans, and its conclusions cannot be influenced by personal or emotional biases.
So in recent years, technology has repeatedly outperformed experts who have spent their lives perfecting their knowledge and experience in different fields. Statistician Nate Silver created an algorithm that predicted the results of the 2012 US election with 100% accuracy for each state. Similarly, in the medical industry, doctors at Stanford University have developed a computer that is able to estimate the lifespan of a cancer patient, and which has also surpassed the diagnostics of leading researchers in this field. Could these errors be due to some form of compassion with the patient? A certain caution taken for fear of giving too much hope? A fear of emotionally destabilizing the patient?
How humans remain essential to marketing
We’re not in a sci-fi movie either! Machines remain docile and obedient, we tell them what to do and how to act, but they don’t have a conscience of their own let alone emotional intelligence like a human can.
Machines don’t know what’s trending and what isn’t.
The marketing of the film is a perfect example: a machine is unable to predict which protagonist of a film will become the darling of the audience and influence, for example, the dress of the fans. Human experts use both their own emotional intelligence and analytical skills to predict this. The preferences of humans are unpredictable and inexplicably linked to some degree of chance. They are seldom categorized, but rather determined by unscientific, arbitrary data, such as memories. This makes prediction of machines impossible.
Machines have no heart.
Have you run a Turing Test (artificial intelligence testing proposal based on the ability to mimic human conversation) on your emails recently? You shouldn’t expect too much. You don’t really know how, but you can recognize an automated email quite easily. How? ‘Or’ What ? This can be thanks to the vocabulary used, grammar or even spaces. But whatever happens, you immediately sense that a machine is behind it. In a way, we understand the emotional constraints of technology. And that ruins any possibility of communicating effectively with your audience.
How Marketing Technology Is Designed To Help People
From the invention of the wheel in the Bronze Age to the GPS of the 60s, we have always thought of technology to improve our performance and to have less effort to do. Today, technology is turning to marketing to maximize the profit from automatic personalized messages and to free up our time to enable us to create and analyze the best possible marketing strategies.
In fact, marketing technology can do the heavy lifting in your marketing processes. Like segmenting customers and prospects, and targeting them with relevant content at the right time. This allows more time to be spent refining persuasion techniques, and reaching customers on an emotional level that a machine simply cannot achieve.
Technology is not made to replace man, but to help him, to support him. Once we understand how technology can be of use to us, the success of the big brands (who have already understood this) becomes clear.
Bruno Schreiber is Sales Director France of Emarsys