Much has been said about the marketing potential of NFTs, crypto, blockchain, and other aspects of Web3. While I like the new possibilities presented by Web3 as much as any marketing nerd, I believe the ongoing incremental improvements AI is making represent a more significant trend.
Of course, Web3 or AI is a false equivalency. AI is not competing with Web3. They are increasingly intertwined, with AI tools fueling and constructing Web3 components. And Web3 tools are helping to disseminate further and distribute various AI tools. But humans tend to latch onto singular topics.
I ask again, as a marketer if I were to focus on one set of technologies, which would it be, AI or Web3?
For me, it would be AI. Not only am I experiencing its impact within creative and promotion tools, but also with marketplace insights that inform creative decision-making.
Why Not Web3?
Web3 is a lot harder to put my finger on tangible value. It might be early, it might just be a sloppy technology movement, kind of like postmodernism was in the art world.
Let’s discuss NFT marketplaces, the Web3 series of disaggregated technologies that fascinate me the most (maybe because my small crypto portfolio is depressing). NFTs represent a new distribution method for content. I do believe NFT marketplaces present opportunities for established artists and early adopters. New distribution marketplaces and media have always brought sea changes.
Like music, which moved from vinyl to cassette to CDs to streams, content is still content. Content will always entertain or inform no matter how the distribution evolves. There is the maturity factor. While NFTs feel powerful, so did virtual reality, which has to achieve its full promised commercial impact.
Even if NFTs do succeed on a grand scale, they are just a means of distributing ideas, content, and creativity rather than a tool that informs art forms or helps develop them. I feel the same way about other Web3 technologies like blockchain and crypto. Security and money are just security and money distributed differently.
That’s why AI provides a greater opportunity for marketers and content developers than Web3.
Narrow AI Is Not a Unicorn
AI has been hailed as the greatest technological evolution since web 2.0, at least in the marketing hype world. I think it will surpass even Moore’s Law at some point. Now, there has been a lot said about the great promises of AI, and in many ways we have yet to see it. But I think that’s because everyone is looking for the “home run” revolutionary moment.
This is where the promise of general AI has failed. In reality, businesspeople and pundits alike should look for subtle pervasive changes in everyday life.
Marketers can see some form of algorithmic AI awesomeness in almost every electronic workplace app they touch today. Consider narrow AI addressing specific tasks. In the case of marketing AI, it is industry specific and uses subject matter expertise to create robust niche applications. This is what my company Evalueserve calls a domain-specific type of AI (full disclosure: We offer a competitive intelligence product for marketers called Insightsfirst). While there are no homeruns here, there are many, many advancements.
Consider IBM CEO Arvind Krishna’s thoughts on AI, “I don’t want us to work only on ‘moonshots,’” he said. “That should be research you work with in the lab.” Instead, he said IBM’s focus will be firmly on AI projects that provide near-term value for clients, adding that he believes generalized artificial intelligence is “still a long time away.”
AI is like rising water. If you live near a tidal body of water, it doesn’t seem to move. But if you walk away, and then return in an hour or two, you will see a significant rise or fall in the waterline.
AI seems like it’s not really making a huge difference in your business life, but then you stop paying attention. You rest on your laurels. And suddenly you realize all of your apps have new features, and that horrible analytics dashboard you had to build every week is suddenly automated. Your competitors are suddenly eating your lunch with always on time niche campaigns. You have to play catch up. Maybe someone else knows more about it then you do, and they get that promotion you’ve been going after.
That’s AI. It’s always moving, you have to move with it.
Just Look at All the AI Spin
I’ll close my arguments about the most important trend with a suggestion. Do some online research, and see which technology is most pervasive in your day-to-day marketing life. While there’s lots of hype about Web3, there are plenty of companies trying to offer AI-driven services to marketers today.
Here are just four examples. Note, one does not use AI in their language, preferring to sell feature and outcome instead of tech. However, anyone in the AI business can see the telltale signs of the algorithmic tools at work, even in the basic language.
Adobe: Designing and delivering the perfect customer experience can be complicated. Adobe Sensei uses AI and machine learning to make it easier — helping you create effortlessly, make informed decisions, and target marketing for better results.
Brand24: Measure your marketing / PR efforts. Track reach & engagement of your mentions. Learn how many people talked about your new campaign or press release. Sentiment analysis: AI-based data about positive, negative and neutral mentions.
GumGum: Monetize Audiences In The Right Frame of Mind: GumGum empowers publishers to unlock revenue potential with its accredited contextual technology and data.
Persado: Accelerate your content creation with an AI language platform that understands your brand and builds authentic connections with customers
The list could go on forever. There are literally thousands of AI offerings in the marketing space. Do all of them achieve their promise? Far from it, but enough do to continue investments and evolving tools.
I know many people will do well in the Web3 world. Who knows, maybe I will be one of them some day. But right now, my eye is on AI.