Marketers Need Generative AI Guardrails

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The explosion of generative artificial intelligence, precipitated by the introduction of conversational interfaces and a $10 billion investment in ChatGPT creator OpenAI from Microsoft, triggered a landslide of interest and experimentation across sectors, including media and advertising, according to a new report from Forrester.

Marketing leaders said generative AI was the answer to questions about how companies could have more impact with their marketing efforts with fewer resources, an important factor as companies look to cut costs amid continued economic uncertainty.

Perhaps the most known example of generative AI is ChatGPT. But ChatGPT isn’t alone. Other large language models and image generators include DALL-E, also put forth by OpenAI, as well as Stable Diffusion and Midjourney. All of these increase the speed and volume of marketing outputs, the Forrester report said.

The research firm also found that more than half (56 percent) of U.S. B2C advertising or marketing decision makers already use generative AI in their marketing efforts. The primary use is to boost their marketing reps’ productivity, but as many as 40 percent are also using or examining how they can use generative AI to automate mundane tasks, such as email content development.

Marketers who are early adopters of generative AI are already enjoying the following benefits, according to Forrester:

  • Improving creative output at scale: Generative AI jump-starts marketing efforts by providing ideas on how to initiate programs, as well as visuals and text for A/B testing.
  • Automatically summarizing insights to help drive marketing actions. Natural language prompts along with data summaries generated by AI provide quick access to insights and measurements.
  • Minimizing mundane, tedious, and often repetitive tasks.

Firms looking to begin or just starting to use generative AI in their marketing efforts need to establish firm employee rules of engagement, according to Forrester; the technology includes risks, such as a tendency to mislead or repackage bias. Marketers, the firm said, should experiment with the technology to ensure this doesn’t happen before going with more full-scale deployments. Additionally, organizations need to establish ground rules for employees, such as keeping proprietary and company intellectual property private rather than entering that data into public versions of generative AI software.

Companies should also elevate organizational understanding of generative AI, according to Forrester, which said that generative AI will have significant impacts on the labor market. The research firm predicted that as many as 11 million U.S. jobs, including about 32,000 in advertising, will be supplanted by the technology. Therefore, Forrester recommended that marketing executives prepare their staff to use generative AI to help them with their jobs.

“AI won’t replace your job. The person who knows how to use AI better than you will replace you,” said Christine Schroeder, head of content at Wpromote, in the report.

Forrester also recommended empowering employee supervision, noting that companies can’t simply allow generative AI to operate unattended. Humans, it said, still need to be involved at all points to provide safeguards and review and revise the automated marketing outputs that generative AI provides. By providing human oversight of the technology’s output, companies can greatly limit bias risks and inaccuracies.

And finally, Forrester urged companies to leverage partnerships for AI resources, opportunities, and credentials, noting that successful deployment of generative AI requires resources, including large-scale computing power, that few organizations have in-house.

Even an organization as large as Microsoft isn’t going it alone; it partnered with OpenAI to develop and integrate generative AI into many of its software applications.

Leverage access to partner accelerators, pilots, certifications, and training to educate, skill, and credential marketing teams, Forrester also recommended.

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