AI and Blockchain Dominate DMexco (But Not Reality)

We withdrew from doing business in Europe temporarily until GDPR sorts itself out, so we didn’t feel the need to attend DMexco.  However, the people who did reported back that it was a more heavily European-market focused conference, and like Cannes, a bit smaller. As usual, following it on Twitter gave us an overview, and since we have deep technology chops we were able to understand that most of the presentations were about the future, and not about the present. Neither AI nor blockchain are ready for prime time.

The most common current use of artificial intelligence outside marketing is for predictive analytics in industry. It is used in factories, where connected devices have produced a kind of industrial “internet of things.’ Thus present day AI can tell us when a machine will need maintenance, based on historical data. But most consumers are not machines, and AI is still not in a position to predict big changes in consumer sentiment, such as the fall-off in demand for soda. Large trends in consumer sentiment have caught marketers unaware, if all they’re using is data from AI. So AI is still somewhat backward facing rather than forward facing. That’s why IBM Watson still does not make 100% accurate medical diagnoses.

For example, there were a dozen presentations on AI, including Deutschebank’s, despite the fact that most people in advertising don’t now how best to use it.  The most heavily used AI applications require vast datasets, and when companies say they are using AI to target customers at every stage of the customer journey, what can they possibly mean in the context of GDPR? Moreover, AI cannot yet tell us what customers want, since the action of an individual is fine-grained. At best, it can tell us what classes of consumers want.

Eventually, AI will be used to identify targeted ad buys, but it is not quite there yet. 

The classic example of programmatic advertising is SEM advertising on channels like Google (AdWords), Facebook, and Twitter. Companies like PredictiveBid and Israel-based Albert have decided to put a significant amount of their focus on programmatic advertising specifically.

Programmatic ads bring a tremendous amount of efficiency to bear on the “inventory” of website and app viewers. Platforms like Google and Facebook have set the standard for both efficient and effective advertising – and it can be supposed that these systems will become more and more user-friendly in terms of allowing non-technical marketers to start, run, and measure campaigns on line

Yes, but! What we’ve been hearing more and more lately from marketers is that Facebook ads, despite the granularity of their targeting, do not convert.  We said this years ago:-)

Where AI is actually useful today is in improving search,.especially for smaller ecommerce sites. Obviously Amazon and Google have their own search, and those heavily use AI.

Closely related to search is recommendation, and if you watch Netflix or shop at Amazon you can understand that although recommendation engines have been around for a long time, and are depended on by consumers, they’re far from perfect.

Another area for exploration is text-to-speech or voice. There are a number of possibilities for AI here, from digital assistants to conversational commerce.

But if you went to DMexco wondering what you could put into practice today, there was probably precious little.