Generative AI - Ushering in the New Age of Answers in Marketing

updated on 20 May 2024

Generative AI has captured the world’s attention in a matter of months. No technical innovation that I can recall has been heralded as the beginning of a “stunning new technology age” as Bill Gates proclaimed last month while also prompting international business and intellectual luminaries to call for a pause in its development to protect our society. No better commentary on its significance need be said beyond users of OpenAI’s Chat GPT hitting the 100M milestone in 2 months and the investment activity fueled by what’s to come.

The tech industry is supplying a dizzying array of new feature enhancements to their product offerings that promise to change how we work, how we create, and how we code. Microsoft’s recent unveiling of their MS 365 Pilot is designed to recapture the soul of work by eliminating the mundane... no more looking for that important file needed for tomorrow’s 8 AM call. Stuck on how to draft a presentation for your upcoming Quarterly Business Review, Co-Pilot not only understands what information needs to be shared, it also understands the context of the meeting based on emails and previous meeting transcripts. Similarly, innovations within Salesforce’s solutions will create efficiencies across the CRM value chain just as Jasper AI and Adobe continue to drive step change functionalities with marketing content creation. As with most major technological advances, adoption and differentiating use cases will be led by the enterprise.

But just as Generative AI promises to change the way knowledge workers work, it will also quickly change the way knowledgeable consumers shop. The dominance of the search engine as the primary pillar in consumer’s buying decision may be challenged. First lets quickly recap where we are in the evolution of the Marketing Practice and how Generative AI will likely usher in a 3rd new phase.

Our first and longest phase was the Age of Reach. Initiated by industrialization and mass communication, this phase was dominated by the 30 second commercial that surrounded the target audience with well-crafted advertisements that connected the product to the consumer. Dashing figures like Don Draper used keen consumer insights and creative intuition to create memorable brand identities.

Data, Digital, and Design ushered in our current phase,  the Age of Information. Clicks, swipes, and likes provided marketers with a plethora of data to better target customers as individuals. Digital capabilities powered by marketing cloud solutions made the goal of one to one within reach and brands focused on differentiating themselves through experience design. Mobile devices proliferated as did Branded Apps that allowed brands and customers the ability to control their relationship. Most purchase decisions begin as Google search queries where links to relevant content are displayed while consumers make the final decision. Social networks, ratings, and reviews serve to reinforce the wisdom of consumer’s decisions.

But what of this new age? Generative AI delivered through personal Co-Pilots could significantly disrupt this current paradigm. If one’s work Co-Pilot can anticipate what emails are most important to reply to, it is not hard to imagine a Co-Pilot equally adept at anticipating my needs and wants in my personal life. How must marketers respond in a world where we shift from searching for relevant information to make a decision, to a world where Generative AI provides us with answers.

The Age of Answers

I’m tall. Six feet four inches and therefore cabin space is a big consideration when purchasing a new car. Query “best car for tall people” in Google today and I am provided with content from brands like Kelley Blue Book, US News and World Report, and True Car. Ask ChaptGPT and I’m provided with recommendations.

I can’t speak with certainty how Bing and Google integrate generative AI into their advertising business models but Brands need to begin the work of understanding how they become recommended. For the last 20+ years, marketers have battled for relevance within the Search Algorithm for primary positioning in Search Engine Results Pages. Tomorrow, whose attention will marketers be fighting for. The end user or their Co-Pilot?

Today, a lot of attention has been paid to building robust branded experiences that brings prospective buyers through a well-orchestrated buying funnel and maintains meaningful engagement through digital assets like mobile apps. A more robust assistant, a generative AI enabled Alexa, Siri, or Cortana could bypass a lot of that work. Netflix has excelled at matching users with relevant entertainment content via robust data science and an elegant user experience. But it still has to be browsed. Generative AI contemplates a world where instead of my family and I negotiating on which movie to watch on movie night, Siri recommends a short list of recommendations based on my family’s preferences and each of our respective mindsets. What is Netflix’s home page in that scenario? As Generative AI continues to know us better, we will likely entrust more decisions to our Co-Pilots. This may have significant implications for how brands contemplate connecting with customers.

Key Questions for Marketers:

Will Generative AI solutions become intermediaries between brands and consumers serving as an interface to optimize the interaction.

  • What’s the timeline and what actions should marketing companies take today?
  • How can brands protect their customer relationships?
  • Will marketers lose some control of the brand experience?

The role of SEM/SEO in the marketing mix?

  • As Co-Pilots become more attuned to the end user, will we see a shift in how consumers shop for products and services?
  • How will Generative AI tools recommend brands?

How will marketing approaches and investments change in a generative AI world

  • Leveraging generative AI benefits in content creation and personalization; Is your current marketing technology prepared?
  • What will your customer acquisition and loyalty playbook look like in 3-5 years. 

We are just months into this new paradigm and there is much to figure out. Generative AI use cases are growing rapidly and its ability to perform is surpassing expectations. While much remains unknown, one thing is certain.. it will change how we interact with products and services. Now is the time to begin preparing for what this new world may look like and how best to connect with your end users

Read more