Judgement day for Marketing AI?

Posted: Wednesday 1st April 2015 in Paid Media, Thought Leadership.
Marketing AI

Artificial Intelligence is set to have a big impact on online retail

2015 is all about Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the movie industry, with major film releases such as Ex Machina, which question our relationship with machines on the big screen. With three big players – Google, Microsoft and IBM – winding up to apply their learning machines to the challenges of retail, I am keeping an eye out for the AI that is coming to take my job!

It is common knowledge that Google is working on AI. They made several major acquisitions at the back end of 2014 and they have also partnered with Oxford University’s computer science and engineering departments. Microsoft and IBM have also showcased their highly advanced artificial intelligence systems.

Sibyl, ADAM and Watson

Google’s Sibyl (named after Greek women of myth who were thought to possess prophetic powers) is running the suggested search for YouTube and is slated to integrate with other services.

Microsoft’s ADAM (Active Directory Application Mode) is helping to power their new mobile assistant Cortana, which has become the leading edge of a campaign to expand the reach of Microsoft’s mobile platform.

IBM’s Watson, named after their first CEO, is driving Watson Analytics and has white papers on translating the kind of helpful advice you would expect from a shop assistant into a digital format, be it online, or at in-store kiosks.

Programmatic Bidding in Paid Search

The application of these learning systems is wide reaching and they are designed to be extremely flexible. Fortunately none have been applied to writing a decent integration document yet, but Programmatic Bidding is where the big changes of 2015 will be seen in Paid Search, and other systems are also stepping up to the challenge.

Programmatic Bidding applies the fundamental principles that drive advanced artificial intelligences to CPC bidding with the kind of laser-focus previously the province of stock market traders. Billions of calculations are used to determine the optimal value to set each bid to return the optimal revenue for the customer. It is still early days with many systems, but Summit has become expert in the field following years of research and development in partnership with Durham University. Now, with more than half a billion pounds in revenue and a string of industry awards, Summit’s Forecaster technology has earned its stripes – while others are still asking what big data is and ultimately what is it for?

Web Analytics is growing up

Big data was the marketing phrase of 2014, but in reality is often unmanageable.  In response to this web analytics has grown up. It is no longer the responsibility of one person to try to extract meaningful numbers, running Google Analytics and whatever came with the vendor’s platform! Now departments of experts in statistics and machine learning are leveraging systems like those developed by Google, Microsoft or IBM to draw meaningful conclusions from these vast amounts of data.

The maturation of analytics has not been an overnight process, but it is coming to fruition alongside the dawn of the marketing AI, bringing with it new tools and skills to the forefront of the marketing industry.

“Will code for food”

So is there still a human element, or should I be writing up the cardboard sign “will code for food”? I think humans are here to stay… for the time being. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? From PHDs building the bones of the system, to client managers keeping a weather eye on things, people are very much still part of the chain. Tomorrow’s client managers will need different skills, but they will still be there, evolving alongside the industry and their electronic counterparts.


If you have any questions or would like to know how Summit can help you make more money online contact Dave Trolle on (01482) 876876.


Who Am I?

James Dewes has been working for Summit for over 7 years with experience in a number of online-marketing roles. For the last 3 years he has been part of the Marketing Solutions team at Summit, supporting their industry-leading technology and advanced web analytics. He spends his spare time behind a keyboard building on his skills, or in the Yorkshire Wolds, walking and enjoying the countryside.