Digital Advertising and Machine-Learning AI: Connecting at the Crossroads

It’s a fear that humanity has long expressed, across a wide range of mediums and with a broad swath of emotion and insight:
One day, we’ll all be replaced by robots. Or at least they’ll take our jobs (and, hence, our livelihood) away from us.
As we creep deeper into the 21st century, The Rise of the Machines becomes less of a science-fiction fantasy and more of an ever-evolving, anxiety-inducing reality.
And no career fields may be as deeply and broadly impacted as the constantly-shifting worlds of marketing and advertising.

 

All Too Real

Having once accepted and then quickly resigned from a seemingly promising position where I reported to a demanding, relentless taskmaster who seemed more machine than human – and with nearly two decades of experience as a paid professional ad man and copywriter, I can uniquely attest to this situation myself.

It seemed this particular person was barely human, and his greatest skill set (it sure wasn’t management or human relations) seemed to involve his knowledge of and association with a wide range of automated marketing platforms, software services, and technologies. When it came to AI, he was A-1. For all his faults, he was very intelligent, and he possessed business intelligence – and access to an array of business intelligence platforms.

You name it, he was all over it – and seemingly expecting me to learn it all overnight. I’ll give him that much – the “man” knew a lot about marketing automation, reporting, analytics, monitoring, and implementing.

At one point, I even dubbed him “Machine Learning” to our in-house Digital Marketing Manager (he himself suddenly up and quit just days before I resigned, seemingly for similar reasons).

But machine learning is more than merely a punchline or cheesy nickname for a robot-like marketing manager in 2018 America. No, it’s very real. And it’s here to stay.

The question is:

Can it co-exist with those of us who are all too human?

 

Fear Not, Friends

The answer, in a word, is “Yes.” After all, if you closely examine humanity as a whole and the advertising and marketing worlds in particular (disciplines which celebrate, cultivate, and challenge our ability to communicate and connect with others), you’ll find that this is just the most recent in a never-ending wave of change and evolution.

The only constant in life, as they say, is change. And the more things change…the more they stay the same. More than mere clichés, these are axioms and explanations of why man and machine can and will find a way to co-exist – including when it comes to digital advertising and marketing.

 

Human After All

That Digital Marketing Manager who melted down and quit on a mid-week midday was a prime example of why we need people to integrate with the technologies that we continue to refine and adapt (and adapt to). He quit in large part because he was being relentlessly hectored and road-blocked by a micromanaging man-machine. But his role was valuable, especially his deep personal knowledge of a certain software platform and his implementation of its B2B marketing automation program.

After he left, that part of the operation stalled. Because as much as Platform A or Software B can and will do on their own, they need us all-too-fallible and at-times volatile human beings to ultimately implement, monitor, update, and analyze their results.

Another prime example of the beautiful balance between man (and woman) and machine in today’s advertising landscape would be The Boost Creative Platform. This blend of cutting-edge digital ad optimization technology and a network of more than 1,000 expert copywriters and creative platforms has been generating great results for our many clients for close to a decade now.

Of course, there’s also the fact that we’ll always want to watch TV spots and stare up at billboards and look down at books and marketing materials and print ads made by people.

And one other thing will never, ever change:

Nobody will want to toil away crafting these communications under the relentless eye of a micromanaging man-machine. Even if they are a huge fan of Westworld and The Terminator franchise. At least that’s my story. And I’m sticking to it.