Marketers caught napping in stampede to adopt AI tools

copywriter1Marketers might be at the forefront of AI implementation, but it seems the vast majority have been caught with their trousers down at the speed of take-up, with just 4% confident in their ability to implement the technology.

That is according to the latest European Marketing Agenda report supported by The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), which surveys 1,250 CMOs on an annual basis, identifying their top priorities for the year ahead.

It reveals that marketers have been guilty of not keeping their eye on the ball, with AI not recorded as a key topic in last year’s report, despite the meteoric rise of ChatGPT in November 2022.

However, the technology now tops the 2024 table of priorities, with 44% selecting it as a top three agenda item, ahead of 40% for digital marketing and 38% for customer experience management.

And, perhaps unsurprisingly, deployment of AI across European marketing companies has dramatically increased in the last 12 months, with nearly half (47%) of marketing teams and agencies are already using AI on a regular basis, with a further 40% in early planning or pilot stages of implementation.

Just 12% of respondents had not deployed, or were not planning to deploy, AI or machine learning within their business.

The top applications of AI within marketing agencies and businesses are in content production (69%), conversational AI (35%) and automated analysis (14%).

Even so, just 4 out of 100 of those surveyed indicated they felt confident in the professional implementation of AI and were actively scaling up to take advantage of the technology.

Limited understanding of appropriate AI software (57%), a lack of in-house expertise (39%) and insufficient data on which to train AI models (24%) were identified as the top implementation challenges across the sector.

CIM chief executive Chris Daly, who is also vice chair of the EMC Board, said: “AI has made phenomenal progress in the last 12 months, as have professional marketers across Europe who understand the profound impact this technology will have on their future success.

“Our research reveals an impressive adoption rate, with nearly half actively piloting or using AI and an additional 40% delving into its potential applications. What is clear, however, is that the pace of progress is outstripping professional skills, exposing businesses to a greater degree of risk.”

The findings of the report seem to contrast sharply with a separate CIM study, published in November last year, that  found three in five (61%) marketers believed they had the skills to cope with new digital technologies being introduced.

However, a similar proportion (65%) were also concerned that the technology was being introduced too quickly and as over half (52%) feared that automation might overshadow certain facets of their jobs, potentially stalling their career advancement.

Related stories
That was then, this is now… the world according to AI
What’s in store for 2024…for AI-driven marketing?
Marketers baulk at breakneck speed of AI deployment
AI will give us more time to think creatively, say CMOs
Industry launches Taskforce to tackle AI ethics concerns
Row over AI ‘light touch’ turns into chorus of disapproval
Generative AI threatened by unresolved martech issues
AI to turbocharge economy but staffing threat looms

Print Friendly