Ethics issues block roll-out of AI despite ROI bonanza

headacheAnyone thinking that artificial intelligence has swept through the marketing industry like a tsunami, leaving everything else in its wake, could be wide of the mark, with many of the world’s biggest brands facing severe delays in implementing the technology due to ethical issues.

That is according to Algomarketing’s Global Marketing Operations, AI & Automation Index, which quizzed over 300 global marketing leaders, working in companies with 10,000-plus employees to discover into the current state of AI and automation within marketing operations, uncovering challenges, opportunities and aspirations.

The study reveals that almost four-fifths (77.5%) of firms have been forced to delay implementation of AI and automation due to concerns about bias and fairness, with 32.7% saying delays have been significant.

Meanwhile, more than half (51.3%) of global marketing leaders say cost is a major challenge when adopting the technology, and only slightly fewer (44.4%) said they have issues finding people who have the skills in marketing and AI to undertake projects.

However, all is not lost; just under a quarter (23.2%) of the world’s biggest companies have adequate internal resources to take advantage of new technologies, with over half (52%) opting for a blended skills approach to AI implementation using in-house staff alongside external suppliers.

Interestingly, the study shows the potential impact of AI tools within marketing operations. Almost a quarter of firms (23.2%) are seeing a 75% increase in return on investment in marketing spend. The majority (68%) reported an increase of between 50% and 74%, while not a single business reported less than a 50% increase in ROI.

When it comes to using AI marketing tools, the study found that US-based marketers are less likely to have adopted the technology than their counterparts in other regions. Only 26.7% of American and 14% of Singaporean marketers said they have been using AI tools in the past three years. This compares to 54.5% Australians and 45.3% of Brits.

These two territories are also leading the field when setting budgets for the next financial year. Two-thirds (65.5%) of respondents in Australia and 62.5% in the UK are committed to increasing spending in 2024. These two territories are also most likely to be hiring additional talent (69.1% Australia and 48.4% UK) compared to the US (40%).

Algomarketing chief executive Yomi Tejemola said: “This study shows that AI and automation are hugely under-used within the in-house marketing operations teams at some of the world’s largest enterprises.

“Although initial investment in AI is evident, most enterprises are continuing to use traditional or insight-driven marketing approaches.

“This means that, although they may be leveraging data and analytics to inform their strategies, they continue to rely on the interpretation and judgement of their marketers to inform their subsequent actions rather than using AI and automation which can interpret data, make decisions and execute actions independently, all with minimal human intervention.

“Algorithmic marketing moves brands that are embracing AI and automation trials towards a future of autonomous marketing.”

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