Marketing and AI: Marketing Creativity in an AI World
B2B CMOs and marketing leaders are under intense pressure to provide direct and tangible value to the business. In many ways, advanced machine learning and AI may be able to help, in part due to efficiency gains and problem-solving. But, what does this mean for the creative process at the heart of what it means to be a marketer? In other words, if AI is to be marketers' productivity co-pilot, how can marketers become the creative co-pilot in turn?
Hosted by Editor Peter Stojanovic, HotTopics’ Marketing Leaders Meetup is an opportunity for our global network of B2B CMOs to come together, share expertise and experience, learn from each other and widen their networks.
Marketing and AI
This Meetup, attendees debated 'Marketing Creativity in an AI World'. Read below to understand the key points covered in our debate.
- Brand identity
- Governance and innovation
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One of the most significant conversations centred around the future of brand identity in an increasingly AI world: how can marketers retain tone of voice, identity, IP, but still experiment creatively with AI?
AI can be most exciting when its outputs are unexpected but thought-provoking—inspiring human creativity. This experimentation has allowed some marketers and teams to create interesting visuals, content, ideation and more, we heard. But it still requires the human touch to offset mistakes or poor quality results, as we heard from other marketers.
Bands leveraging AI therefore shouldn’t look for manicured ‘traditional’ content, but lean into the uniqueness AI can offer (with the right, unique prompts).
In terms of brand imagery, marketers are re-analysing brand guidelines to understand which are rigid and which could be open to creativity, augmented by AI. This doesn’t have to be about compromisation. For brands with rigid guidelines, the goal is to identify non-negotiable elements and ensure they remain consistent through a suite of centrally approved assets. Then, provide creators (internal and external) freedom to collaborate with AI on peripheral aspectsl we heard.
How do you bring your team along an AI journey?
Many CMOs in attendance are asking themselves this question. It is an important one—and complex. Marketing budgets are stretching in a do-more-with-less economy and AI offers tantalising benefits of increased productivity, automation and reduced costs. Does a reduced headcount come under reduced costs? Some people think so. The redistribution of work, and reorganisation of headcount, is a controversial topic in AI, not least because it is difficult to predict with certainty how AI will impact team structure.
Yet, CMOs who do not at least test AI risk falling behind those who master prompts, identify where AI can help teams’ workloads, and meet rising customer expectations on personalisation that new technologies can support.
Communicating an AI vision is a good start. Pragmatic leadership, another. Teams should be free to experiment with AI—have fun!—whilst being fully cognizant of what the business needs, and what it does not.
It is a journey though. No-one is getting this right today or tomorrow.
Training is a keystone of a strong culture of creativity, regardless of AI or not. But when it comes to something as new as AI, marketers are struggling.
Some CMOs are utilising those in their team that know and love AI—AI ambassadors. They bring the whole team together and keep them updated on new features. Others are sharing best practices on prompts for generative AI, and putting a focus on practice, practice, practice. This is the era of experimentation.
Governance and innovation
Creativity in marketing happens within the invisible guardrails of ethics and governance. AI requires data within these precepts in order to operate to this quality. Harmful and discriminatory stereotypes can be perpetuated via biases present in training data.
We heard marketers are actively engaging in bias detection and mitigation efforts to ensure AI-generated content is inclusive and respectful. They are also trying to be as transparent as possible when using AI about the technology’s role in content generation. This transparency fosters credibility and empowers consumers to make informed content decisions, which will be especially important in the coming years.
This segued niceley to the concept of perception. Using AI to augment marketing creativity is one thing, but will it backfire with users? The Meetup was split: some people may see using AI “as lazy” and a mark that you do not have the skills yourself to produce the material; others feel that “if it’s there, why not use it?”. Similar dichotomies will be found in users and customers.
AI watermarking, and identifying features—human-only products, for example—were predicted.
Some marketers also predicted a return to more in-person collaboration, to counteract a likely over-proliferation of AI-only creativity, in marketing and outside of it. This may also help foster team spirit, a necessary component of AI augmentation.
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