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Computer Love: How Artificial Intelligence will change Digital Marketing

Croud’s founder Luke Smith discusses the recent and rapid developments taking place when it comes to artificial intelligence, and how these changes are likely to affect the digital marketing industry,  agency world, and as such, Croud. 

Kraftwerk Computer Love

Will robots inherit the earth? Yes, but they will be our children.

– Marvin Minsky, Scientific American, October 1994

So the age of artificial intelligence is upon us – everywhere you look people are talking about technology replacing the human being for many tasks in daily life. From truck drivers to lawyers all of our jobs are under threat apparently. Digital marketing – being dominated as it is by the leading proponents of AI and machine learning – is very much on the radar.

These conversations aren’t new, the Economist has been writing about these changes for years and fears for mankind’s employment in the future.

It will be a while before the world is fully automated. But change is coming and we need to be ready.

I read this long but very informative article New York Times article about the history – and future – of AI. Some of what I learned was:

  • There’s some very interesting stuff happening,  the recent improvements to Google Translate are game changing.
  • The background to the discipline of AI when  compared to conventional computer science is very different, and has been around since the 40s.
  • (Very) simplistically it’s about creating neural networks – like the brain
  • The pace of change is increasing – investment from all the major players is ramping up exponentially –  Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Samsung are snapping up all of the best talent for footballer’s salaries

So this has been central to my thoughts over recent months – what will these changes mean for Croud and our clients? Are we ready for the onset of AI and the increasing use of machine learning – should we as an agency business fear this change?

Or in fact, should we be embracing it?

Our conclusion is to embrace the brave new world – big time.

Since our inception, technology has formed a central part of Croud’s business, CroudControl is the beating heart of our business – it underpins everything we do and every piece of work is assessed, QAed and delivered through it.  Our development team is now 12 strong and CroudControl going from strength to strength, adding insight and efficiency through seamless task management, cutting-edge tools, reporting and development plans.

What Croud don’t do is reinvent the wheel, why would we try and compete with Google and Facebook’s dev resource? We integrate APIs to deliver the best solutions for our customers.

So we’re building our platform to enhance the work our in-house and Croud network talent deliver  – taking away tasks that a machine is much better suited to doing.  Picture a team of marketing ‘robocops’  based out of our office in Shrewsbury very soon – the perfect combination of human and machine to deliver the strongest results.

robocop holding his hand out

And this perfect harmony of the best of both worlds is already bearing fruit  – check out the performance our recent Smart Bidding test delivered for one of our retail clients:

Highlights – 4.4x improvement in CPA/ conversion rate

And this frees up time for our teams to be doing the million and one other things that make a difference to our clients.

For some time to come, we will still have to feed the machine at the front end and to offer insight and interpretation – across an increasing and more complex number of channels – when we start delivering results.

And this relationship between man and machine isn’t a binary one – overnight we won’t all be out of jobs. Gradually over time machine learning will take on increasing percentage of today’s work. Moving from say 20% of tasks now to maybe 70%? in 5 years. But the team’s role will evolve with the increasing complexity of media choice.

People vs Tech doing jobs 2017-2022

We are busy scoping, in detail, exactly how this shift to the machine will affect every element of our business, so we are prepared for every eventuality.