DMWF London: Can the forces of creativity and automation be aligned in digital marketing?

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One theme that has rung out consistently over the DMWF London conference space at 155 Bishopgate over the last two days revolves around the answer to the following question:

“With the increasing move towards automation and machine driven processes, is there still space for creativity in digital marketing?”

The answer to this head-scratcher has taken a number of different forms over the last two days. Some have argued that AI should be put in charge of targeting and actively engaging consumers, while others have stressed that it is human influence that is the holy grail of digital marketing.

After listening to all of the fascinating talks and seeing the varied case studies on offer at the conference, it feels like there is a way to effectively accommodate both viewpoints.

Laying the foundation for creativity

The work that scientists do on a daily basis can help us understand the best mindset to adopt here.

Scientists are a rigorous, data-driven bunch that must be able to recreate experiments and confirm datasets. Yet the history of science is also littered with serendipity (or ‘happy and unexpected moments’), where people had to be prepared to take advantage of the sudden opportunities that opened up to them.

Think Penicillin and apples falling off tries onto sleeping heads.

In a similar way, the rigid, ruthless efficiency of automation and machine learning shouldn’t be seen as pushing out human creativity. Rather it lays the foundations for creativity by providing more and better analysed data for ideas and campaigns to be built on top of.

So how does this affect organisational structure? Well, if machines are capable of doing the data collection and analysis in a uniform and objective way, it is how that data is then utilised that is the key. Brands need to be agile and creative in the face of the mountains of data that they are now capable of utilising.

What machines are good at

The drive towards machine learning and AI is all about pattern recognition and problem solving, which both tend to be the initial stages of any serious campaign.

First, pattern recognition allows you to identify a trend, then problem solving allows you work out whether you have to the capability to capitalise on that trend.

But how do you capitalise on it? Well, that is the interesting part of the process.

The value of these technological solutions tends to fall into 3 main categories:

Data processing – the volume of data that can be analysed and the speed at which it can be done is staggering

Objectivity – a machine doesn’t have any bias when it comes to looking at data, it can only look at it the way it has been told to or has learnt to

Finding connections – machines have an ability to connect the dots between disparate data sets that humans can’t necessarily see.

By understanding what this technology is useful for, digital marketers can set about thinking about the cornucopia of cool, inventive and effective things that can be done.

(C) iStock/VOLHA RAMANCHUK

 

Written by: Colm

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