How AI Will Transform (Not Replace) Marketing Agencies

By Mario Peshev, DevriX

Do you remember the last time your marketing team invested significant resources into developing radio advertising campaigns? Chances are, it’s not a vivid memory.

How about TV advertising, telemarketing, and newspaper ads? You probably haven’t invested much time or resources in those, either.

That’s because highly effective marketing campaigns are agile, always adapting their message to match the most prominent mediums of the day. Radio, TV, newspapers, and telemarketing were once cutting-edge marketing mediums. They were the best way to reach the most people with the most specificity.

No longer.

Perhaps that’s why so many marketers were off-put by Sam Altman, the well-known CEO of ChatGPT maker OpenAI, when he functionally predicted the end of the marketing sector as we know it.

As the Marketing Institute itself reported, Altman claims, “95% of what marketers use agencies, strategists, and creative professionals for today.”

If you’re in or associated with the marketing profession, that statement certainly sets off alarm bells. And yet, marketing has remained relevant through countless iterations. It hasn’t died off even as novel technologies constantly reimagine the profession.

Instead, marketing morphs from one channel and industry to another as the crowded spaces quickly hit saturation levels and new tactics become necessary for success.

Right now, it’s clear that it’s time to shift our tactics again to account for the rapid rise of AI and Generative Pre-Trained Transformers (GPTs).

How AI-Generated Content Impacts Audiences

To be sure, AI isn’t a singular entity. It’s a big tent technology accounting for everything from the algorithms that curate our social media feeds to the products producing life-like audio for news narration.

It’s also not new. AI has been thoroughly researched since 1956, starting with the general principles of AI and advancing through machine learning, deep learning, and robotics. When ChatGPT burst on the scene and collected 100 million users in just two months, it was following a long line of technological advancements.

For marketers, the latest AI buzz often focuses on Generative AI (Gen AI), technology that can generate new content, such as text or images.

Right now, these products feel fun. After all, whether you are a trained tactician or a novice, nearly every professional can produce passable prose with a prompt and some editing. The promise of fast, free, and easily accessible content seems like a dream come true, eradicating cost and creating more opportunities.

If only it were that easy.

For starters, Gen AI content often lacks distinction. As every “ever-evolving” lead and “crucial” action step reminds us, creating original content from pre-trained algorithms doesn’t guarantee success. In fact, it could produce the opposite: lulling marketers into thinking they are creating compelling content rather than exceedingly bland. Or, worse yet adding to the redundant echo chamber of sounding just like what their competitors may be also saying using the same AI-assistive tool.

Additionally, if every business accesses the power of DALL-E images or ChatGPT copy, creative click-through rates (CTRs) will immediately plummet. Consumers will take notice, and they won’t find it fun, innovative, or cutting-edge.

It will be off-putting, and brands will take a significant reputation hit for abusing cheap workarounds instead of closing relationships. Meanwhile, platform gatekeepers, like Google and Apple, will introduce content policies that account for consumers’ concerns, just like SEO punishes AI-generated content, Apple bans cookies, and Gmail blacklists automated outreach.

We see similar results with paid campaigns using Google Performance Max or Meta’s Advantage+. While AI simplifies the process for brand marketers and successfully runs millions of campaigns, predictive analysis fails to hit peak results compared to thoughtfully crafted manual campaigns by experienced media buyers intimately understanding their ICP needs and applying creative principles tailored to recent news or event features (something that AI does not consider in the process).

That doesn’t mean Gen AI won’t impact the marketing profession and its people.

Marketers, creatives, developers, salespeople, and everyone else doing mundane, repetitive, boring work, like trimming videos or proofreading copy, are in trouble – but that was probably true even before Gen AI entered the conversation.

This leaves room for forward-looking marketing agencies to determine what’s possible as a new channel and industry emerge.

What Will AI Do To Marketing?

Since marketers are constantly looking ahead to the latest trends, any tool that accelerates innovation can be a significant asset.

AI can and, in some cases, is already fulfilling that potential.

When coupled with Experimentation-as-a-service (EaaS), a systematic approach to assessing the efficacy of marketing tools and techniques, brands can best leverage randomized control experiments through A/B testing to identify the strengths and weaknesses of new products, services, and messaging.

To be sure, EaaS isn’t a new concept. Marketers have been using experimentation for decades, using this technique to analyze their content, design, user experience, and channel strategies.

This created a mountain of often-unstructured data that often hindered rather than helped decision-makers. One executive survey discovered that just 24 percent of respondents say they successfully created a data-driven organization, an eight percent decline since 2019.

That’s where AI excels.

It can take expansive, unstructured data sets and make meaning from them, creating actionable insights that allow marketers to innovate with speed and precision.

For example, market research data providing key demographic insights paired with A/B-tested copywriting frameworks, including headline modifications, the exploration of diverse ad creatives, and strategically designed landing pages, allows marketers to identify the most persuasive messaging that elicits a resonant response from their target audience.

Of course, that’s not to say that marketers can’t leverage Gen AI to help produce some of these deliverables. However, consumer concerns about companies using AI, the challenge of preserving brand trust, and the complexity of personalization at scale will make marketers’ roles more relevant, not less.

AI Accelerates Innovation

Marketing isn’t a fixed pursuit. It’s an agile process that shifts with the latest trends, technologies, and audience expectations.

As AI and GPTs become increasingly integral to the marketing toolkit, the essence of what makes marketing agencies indispensable remains unchanged: their ability to understand market dynamics, foster genuine connections with ideal customer profiles (ICPs), and innovate on demand.

In other words, the old playbooks no longer work, allowing marketing agencies to deliver results by understanding market insights and experimenting at scale.

That will always be in demand.

Just like marketers rarely invest significant resources into developing radio advertising campaigns, the arrival of Gen AI will reshape the marketing landscape, requiring teams to deploy their talent and resources accordingly.

Marketers don’t need to close their doors. They need to prepare for another strategic pivot to deliver the best results for their customers.

About the Author

Mario Peshev is the CEO of DevriX, a global WordPress agency providing scalable, long-term technical partnerships along with marketing, and business consulting. Peshev is also the author of the upcoming new book, MBA Disrupted: Your Step-By-Step Guide to Bootstrapping $1M+ Digital Businesses.

Since 2015, DevriX has consistently ranked among the top 20 WordPress consultancies worldwide, scaling both world-known enterprise brands and high-traffic publishers with up to 1 billion monthly page views on top of WordPress.

Tags: AI