Opinion

Marketers need to start giving millennials what they want: artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence is no longer a figment of the sci-fi writer's imagination, nor is it something to be feared - Siri made sure of that. As a generation grows up with AI in their pockets, marketers need to stop shying away from it and embrace it, writes Mailee Creacy.

Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg are the latest high-profile business leaders to butt heads over the use of artificial intelligence, with the two trading barbs over the regulation of AI.

Musk has issued warnings about the potential dangers of the technology while Zuckerberg believes people shouldn’t slow down progress.

Zuckerberg is a fan

They aren’t the first to have opposing opinions on the topic, with Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Professor Stephen Hawking also advising caution, while Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos and IBM Watson SVP, David Kelly, have encouraged the development of the technology.

While industry leaders are touting their opinions about the future of AI, the general public also have strong opinions about the way they believe it will affect their lives.

The phrase ‘artificial intelligence’ may prompt fear in some people’s minds – perhaps preconditioned by Hollywood and sci-fi dramatisations of malevolent robots – however, most people are accepting of the use of AI in their everyday lives.

Whether it be the apps on our phone, the virtual personal assistant in our living room, or the self-driving cars we’re increasingly seeing in the news and soon on our streets, we are incrementally becoming more exposed to artificial intelligence in its varied forms.

The generation leading the AI transformation – millennials – believe there is nothing to fear from AI.

It’s only natural that sentiments towards artificial intelligence will reflect popular usage and exposure. Millennial males are typically the quickest adopters of new technology, so it follows that they’re the demographic most at ease with the concept of artificial intelligence.

Research released on consumer perceptions of AI proves that younger generations are open-minded when it comes to the use of AI. The survey showed millennial males are most likely to find artificial intelligence exciting (80%), least likely to be fearful of it (only 13%), and most likely to think that it will improve their job in the next five years (47%).

What does this mean for marketers?

For brand marketers, capturing the attention of millennials has long been the holy grail. Multiple screen and multiple channel users by nature, this generation demands more from the brands in their lives. Blanket marketing messages and one-way broadcasts don’t cut it, and advertisers reliant on the interruption-based practices of the past increasingly find themselves lacking in engagement.

This generation expects to be spoken to in a personalised way and accepts that businesses will anticipate their needs in advance. Netflix queues up TV shows they might like to binge watch. Google identifies when they should leave home in order to beat traffic. Now it seems this acceptance of technology that anticipates their needs extends to advertising.

The Consumer Perceptions of AI research proved that younger generations are open-minded when it comes to brands using artificial intelligence to inform their buying decisions. A clear majority of Australian millennials (74%) said they prefer brands to provide personalised advertising and offers.

This is great news for marketers who advertise online. It shows us that younger generations have become so accustomed to businesses using artificial intelligence to make their lives better that they also understand it may be used to present them with their ideal promotions, products and services.

They seem not only accepting, but expectant, and understand the data exchange that takes place now between brands and consumers – they provide information about themselves in return for interesting, entertaining and, most importantly, relevant content.

Mailee Creacy is Rocket Fuel’s general manager. 

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