Would you trust a robot to pick out a wedding dress for you? Would you rely on an algorithm to buy a shirt you’ve just seen on a passer-by? Would you buy a shade of lipstick because your smartphone tells you it’s the most flattering for your skin tone? Well, millions of consumers are already doing all of these things. Artificial intelligence (AI) has, in a pretty short space of time, migrated from the pages of sci-fi novels to super-size computers, and now to super-powerful microprocessors in our smartphones. 

Apps like Sephora Virtual Artist, 3D Look and IKEA Place have embraced developments in AI to deliver an augmented shopping experience. In addition to offering a novel way to browse and buy – and a means of standing out from the crowd – brands such as these are also hoping to deliver more accurate, relevant, personalised and efficient customer journeys.

But why should consumers have all the fun, and get all the benefits of AI?

Marketers fear not! AI-enabled technologies have also found their way into the world of marketing, and the management of digital assets. Capabilities like metadata automation, image recognition, and voice search are enabling marketing teams to streamline manual processes, and are letting individual team members swap mundane, repetitive tasks for creative, value-add pursuits. We’re not robots after all – but we can certainly use them to the benefit of our brands, and our consumers.

However, while the tools are readily available, it seems that awareness of their capabilities and the advantages they can bring are less widespread. In research conducted last year, we found that a significant 86% of marketing professionals were not leveraging AI tools in their work. This was particularly surprising considering almost exactly the same proportion of consumers are using AI in their personal lives.

Digital transformation doesn’t happen overnight. However, it’s an evolution that can be supported by adopting AI tools. As such, we’ve outlined a few of the numerous plus-points of the technology, and highlighted how AI isn’t just for shoppers and shopping – it’s for those behind-the-scenes, enabling and enhancing these experiences.

Auto-tag it

Marketers are like librarians – they oversee huge repositories of assets, including logos, product images, promo videos, blog posts, customer testimonials, item specs, and a lot more. While librarians have historically been guided by the Dewey Decimal System, the digitalisation, seemingly constant creation and the sheer volume of assets in a marketer’s library requires something much more complex. 

The answer is a robust digital asset management (DAM) platform, which allows its users to assign keywords to every asset in their library, making it easier and faster to locate what they need, when they need it. However, like printing and sticking those Dewey Decimal numbers on the spine of every book on every shelf, manually tagging digital assets is time-consuming and prone to human error. Fat, tired fingers are not friends of an accurate marketer!

AI is not a cure-all for the marketer’s woes, but specific AI capabilities are great for addressing specific problems and doing so at scale. Auto-tagging is one such example and involves a DAM solution adding basic descriptive metadata for assets like photography or stock graphics. In addition to basic keywords, information on the colours that appear in an image, or the names of celebrities or spokespeople pictured, as well as industry-specific keywords like ingredients in an image of food, can also be logged, and images categorised accordingly.

Moving images too can be auto-tagged, with teams using a DAM solution to train algorithms on their existing data to improve the accuracy of this tagging and enable the technology to recognise brand-specific tags.

AI in moderation

AI-enabled image recognition and the subsequent automatic tagging of images can save a great deal of time and effort for marketing teams. However, the value in this approach is rapidly eroded if tagging is inaccurate and results in assets being published that are inappropriate or of questionable quality. 

Rather than a marketer manually trawling through assets and deciding which are not safe for work (NSFW), AI-enabled DAM solutions can auto-delete, unreleased, or restrict permissions for such content. How? Image recognition can automatically analyse facial attributes and categorise them based on demographics, emotions, people based on age, ethnicity, and gender. This will help ensure that teams are using the right asset for the right purpose at the right time, and prevent the publication of inappropriate or unsuitable assets.

However, this kind of technology shouldn’t be considered a complete replacement of teams’ skill. In addition to time-saving AI capabilities, a DAM solution must also allow marketing teams to carefully manage who has access to and specific permissions within these image recognition and auto-tagging features.

Creating time for creativity

Machines are not going to replace marketers any time soon. But what they (and more specifically, AI) are going to do is enhance the work of teams, while at the same time freeing them up to focus on those tasks which require a uniquely human touch. As with any new technology, adopting AI within your marketing strategy should be a collaborative, team-wide process, accompanied by the required training, and with roles and responsibilities of users outlined at the outset.

Those heading up teams should think about their specific goals, and which functionality they are seeking to enhance with AI. And ‘enhance’ is definitely the appropriate term: applying this capability to manual, repetitive tasks allows team members to focus their time and effort on tasks that require more strategic and creative thinking.

While any new tech integration and any aspect of a digital transformation project can seem daunting, the good news is that the majority of us are pretty familiar with AI already. The apps we use in our day-to-day lives as consumers may appear pretty different on the surface, but the results – efficiency, ease and accuracy – are the same as can be achieved in a professional setting. Consumers needn’t have all the fun and realise all the benefits: brands too can capitalise on the business and marketing benefits of AI.