Marketers Learn to Work With the Machines

Despite artificial intelligence’s promise to help marketers reach consumers in ways that are better, faster and cheaper, executives can wind up wasting time and money when they actually try it, according to industry experts and analysts.

“Every marketer wants to be famous and wants to say, ‘I’m using AI,’” said Stéphane Bérubé, chief marketing officer for Western Europe at L’Oréal SA. But they also think they’re experts on the topic just because they’ve been to a few conferences, he said. “Instead of saying, ‘What can I do with AI?’ they need to say, ‘Here’s what I would like to do with my dialogue or relationship with consumers, and can AI help?’”

The challenges continue from there.

Picking Battles
Marketers think the technology is the hardest aspect of AI, said Mr. Bérubé. “I think it’s the easy part. The tough part is finding the purpose.”

L’Oréal could have better thought out the chatbot it introduced last year to encourage people to buy products as gifts, Mr. Bérubé said. It asks both potential gift-givers and the potential recipients a series of questions before suggesting options. “The consumer experience ended up being a bit complex,” he said.

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