“If you don’t have a Machine Learning and AI slide in your investor deck, you are not getting funded,” SurePath Capital’s Mark McLeod told the SMB Cloud Summit audience last week, slightly tongue-in-cheek. Earlier in the day there was a discussion of how machine learning and AI would potentially impact the SMB marketing ecosystem.
The session, called “How Will Machine Learning and AI Impact SMB Marketing?” featured speakers from Google, Facebook and iPromote.
Facebook’s Anand Arivukkarasu and Google’s Simone Styr discussed machine learning in the context of Facebook Messenger and Google AdWords. Styr said it was easier to name Google products that didn’t use machine learning than those that did because the technology is now so widely deployed within the company.
As Facebook gears up to launch Messenger as a chat plugin for websites, allowing business owners to tap in to its 1.2 billion users, Arivukkarasu and his team are looking to support businesses by training the Messenger engine to understand the user intent and ultimately respond on the business owners behalf.
While he said that natural language processing in Messenger is at an early stage, Google’s Styr spoke of how AdWords can already optimize a campaign to generate more leads for an advertiser without them having to make manual adjustments to the bidding strategy with “smart bidding.”
Smart bidding is one illustration of how technology is now able to do what people previously did. However there are still challenges for small businesses to reap the benefits of smart bidding, including setting up conversion tracking on their sites and having enough conversion data for the system to work.
Along these lines the question of “DIY” vs. “do-it-for-me” was extensively discussed: how will machine learning and AI impact campaign provisioning and service in the future?
LSA’s Tech Adoption Index research found that the biggest factor in cloud services adoption and self-service is the age of the business. As we wait for the Baby Boomers to retire and Millennials to take over the decision making, iPromote’s Gregg Albright spoke about the short and mid-term need to help businesses, who are either not willing or not able to do so themselves.
Resellers and partners, such as local media publishers, are still well positioned to support SMBs today and level the playing field so all businesses have the opportunity to benefit from the advances in technology. Automated omni-channel ad creation technology, as provided by iPromote, allows resellers to provide these services with new levels of efficiency.
It’s fairly clear that machine learning and AI are going to have a significant impact on the marketplace. Publishers and resellers will need to evolve to continue to deliver value to local advertisers, as tasks that were once fulfilled by people are increasingly taken over by machines.