Artificial intelligence (AI) is a term that is often loosely used and can conjure up examples from classic sci-fi movies such as Skynet, the defense network that become “self-aware” in 1984’s The Terminator, and HAL, the  HAL-9000 supercomputer in 1968’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

AI technology is quite real today and is being used in many applications that are becoming ubiquitous, such as the virtual personal assistants Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google’s Assistant.

This article in eMarketer is an excerpt from their more extensive report. I thought their definition was nice and simple:

“The ability of machines to emulate human thinking, reasoning and decision-making.”

The article is just a brief overview, but it brings up the deeper question for marketers: How has AI already changed marketing and what can we expect for the future?

The short answer is that the impact already has been huge. Although Siri and other personal assistants are highly visible, it is the use of AI technologies embedded in the underlying algorithms that is transforming the existing processes we use everyday. For example, Google’s RankBrain, a deep-learning AI system, is part of its algorithm that takes a user’s search query and generates the search result page. Particularly for new queries– ones that have not been seen before–RankBrain can analyze the search query better than the previous rules-based system and enable better responses.

And expect the usage to expand greatly as machine learning, voice recognition and other AI algorithms are now available as cloud services for use by developers.

At Vioby, for example, we’ve embedded AI technology in our LinkDirector product, the first in a new category of marketing automation products for e-commerce SEM campaign managers. Our emulation of an intelligent sales associate sits in the cloud and understands shopper search queries. It then automatically finds the most relevant destination landing page on the e-commerce website. Unlike Siri et al., the Vioby intelligent sales associate is invisible to the user — shoppers click on a search ad and land on the e-commerce website, with all the AI behind the scenes. The results, though, are very visible to the user, delivering a better user experience that drives revenue for the advertiser.

Here’s an excerpt with a link to the original article in eMarketer.


Understanding Artificial Intelligence

Businesses are already using AI to help improve their operations

October 21, 2016 | Advertising & Marketing | Marketing Technology

Artificial intelligence (AI) is already becoming entrenched in many facets of everyday life, and is being tapped for a growing array of core business applications, including predicting market and customer behavior, automating repetitive tasks and providing alerts when things go awry. As technology becomes more sophisticated, the use of AI will continue to grow quickly in the coming years, as explored in a new eMarketer report, “Artificial Intelligence 2016: What’s Now, What’s New and What’s Next” (eMarketer PRO customers only).


In its most widely understood definition, AI involves the ability of machines to emulate human thinking, reasoning and decision-making. A May 2015 survey of US business executives by Narrative Science found that 31% of respondents believed AI was “technology that thinks and acts like humans.” Other conceptions included “technology that can learn to do things better over time,” “technology that can understand language” and “technology that can answer questions for me.”


At a deeper level, however, there is confusion in the marketplace around AI technology and the terminology used to describe it. Similar-sounding terms—such as cognitive computing, machine intelligence, machine learning, deep learning and augmented intelligence—are used interchangeably, though there are subtle differences among them. Many companies that have been involved with AI for years don’t even call it AI, for various reasons. “In essence we call it machine learning, because I think AI sometimes can spook some folks,” said Mahesh Tyagarajan, chief product officer at ecommerce personalization platform RichRelevance.


Source: Understanding Artificial Intelligence – eMarketer