Marketers should use AI to solve specific problems


Speakers at MarTech pull back the curtain on artificial intelligence

Marketers should use artificial intelligence (AI) to solve problems, not just because it’s the latest fad. That was the consensus at the mainstage keynote at the MarTech conference on Wednesday morning.

Adelyn Zhou, co-founder and head of marketing at AI firm TOPBOTS, and Jason Heller, partner, global lead of digital marketing operations and technology at consulting firm McKinsey & Company, gave spirited talks about AI and machine learning.

“Don’t look at AI as a solution looking for a problem,” Heller said in his portion of the talk. “Ask yourself, ‘What is the problem I’m trying to solve?’”

No silver bullet

“I can’t promise a silver bullet,” Zhou said. “But what we do have are silver robots and artificial intelligence and machine learning.”

“AI is a buzzword wrapped in a hype cycle inside a transformation” — Jason Heller

Zhou’s presentation was essentially a primer of how to use AI in marketing, showing examples and use cases for various applications.

She also provided a tongue-in-cheek jab at the hype of AI when explaining the difference between it and machine learning.

“If we as marketers are selling something, it’s AI; if recruiters are trying to hire an engineer, they call it machine learning,” she said. Of course, machine learning is just one of the applications in the broader field of AI.

The most compelling uses she discussed — particularly in this age of fake videos — were ones that created new content based on inputs, such as generative modeling (which can create a brand-new image of a human) and computer vision (which uses computers to analyze and identify components of a photo, such as a product).

Beyond the buzz

“AI is a buzzword wrapped in a hype cycle inside a transformation,” Heller said as he kicked off his portion of the keynote. “After years of extravagant promises and monumental disappointments, AI is finally starting to deliver real-life returns for early-adopting companies.”

Later, he talked about how AI can be used to power insights that take segmentation to the next level.

“Signalization makes segmentation nearly obsolete,” Heller said.

He expanded on that thought when I caught up with him after the presentation.

“At the end of the day, segmentation is not going away,” Heller said when I caught up with him after the talk.

Segmentation has plenty of value. But if you think about the hierarchy of addressability, right at the very bottom of that hierarchy is one-to-one [marketing]. But if we know about a person, you know that there are certain signals that, either you as an individual or other cohorts of people like you, gets attached to you so it can help us understand your needs better in terms of what products, what experiences, what content you want — how to engage with you. That solves two things I want to do. It makes a better experience for you as a customer, as a consumer, but it also creates a higher probability of creating more value for my company.

This article first appeared in

Seeking to build and grow your brand using the force of consumer insight, strategic foresight, creative disruption and technology prowess? Talk to us at +9714 3867728 or mail: or visit

About Author

Robin Kurzer

Robin Kurzer started her career as a daily newspaper reporter in Milford, Connecticut. She then made her mark on the advertising and marketing world in Chicago at agencies such as Tribal DDB and Razorfish, creating award-winning work for many major brands. For the past seven years, she’s worked as a freelance writer and communications professional across a variety of business sectors.

Comments are closed.