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Artificial Intelligence in Marketing: Separating Hype from Reality

  • By Dallas McLaughlin
  • April 17, 2023

I have seen firsthand the growing interest in the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in our field. Every day, it seems like there are new AI-powered tools and platforms promising to revolutionize the way we approach digital marketing.

But with all the hype around AI, it can be difficult to separate reality from fantasy. In this article, I’ll examine the current state of AI in digital marketing and explore what it can and can’t do for our industry.

What is Artificial Intelligence in Digital Marketing?

First, let’s define what we mean by AI in digital marketing. At its simplest, AI refers to computer programs that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence. These tasks might include things like recognizing patterns in data, making predictions, or learning from experience.

In digital marketing, AI can be used to automate various tasks, such as optimizing ad campaigns, personalizing content, and predicting customer behavior. By analyzing vast amounts of data and detecting patterns that humans might miss, AI can help marketers make more informed decisions and improve the effectiveness of their campaigns.

The Current State of AI in Digital Marketing

So, how widely adopted is AI in digital marketing today? The answer varies depending on the task in question.

For example, chatbots – a form of AI that can answer customer questions and provide support – are already widely used by businesses of all sizes. These tools can help companies save time and money by handling routine inquiries, freeing up human staff to focus on more complex issues.

Similarly, many marketers are already using AI-powered tools to analyze data and make predictions about customer behavior. By feeding historical data into these tools, marketers can identify patterns and make more accurate predictions about how customers are likely to behave in the future.

On the other hand, more complex applications of AI – such as developing predictive models for customer behavior or creating entirely AI-generated content – are still relatively rare. While these technologies show promise, they require significant investment in terms of time, money, and expertise to implement effectively.

The Pros and Cons of AI in Digital Marketing

Like any technology, AI has both benefits and drawbacks for digital marketers. Let’s take a closer look at each.


  1. Automation: One of the most significant benefits of AI in digital marketing is automation. By using AI-powered tools, marketers can automate time-consuming tasks, such as ad optimization or email segmentation. This frees up time for marketers to focus on more strategic activities, such as developing new campaigns or refining their overall marketing strategy.
  2. Personalization: Another significant benefit of AI in digital marketing is personalization. By analyzing customer data, AI can help marketers deliver highly targeted messages and content to individual customers, increasing the likelihood that they will engage with the brand.
  3. Improved ROI: Finally, AI can help marketers improve the ROI of their campaigns by identifying opportunities for optimization and reducing waste. For example, an AI-powered tool might identify that a certain ad creative performs better with a particular audience segment, allowing marketers to allocate their budget more effectively.


  1. Bias: One of the biggest concerns with AI in digital marketing is bias. Because AI algorithms are only as good as the data they are trained on, if that data is biased or incomplete, the AI may replicate those biases. This can lead to unintentional discrimination or exclusion of certain groups.
  2. Complexity: As mentioned earlier, more complex applications of AI in digital marketing require significant investment in terms of time, money, and expertise. For many businesses, this may be a significant barrier to adoption.
  3. Lack of Control: Finally, some marketers may be hesitant to rely too heavily on AI, as it can be difficult to predict or control the outcomes of AI-powered campaigns. This can be especially true for more complex applications of AI, where the results may not always be easy to interpret

The role of AI in digital marketing is both exciting and complex. While AI-powered tools and platforms can help automate tasks, personalize content, and improve the ROI of campaigns, there are also concerns about bias, complexity, and lack of control.

As a digital marketing professional, it’s important to stay informed about the latest AI developments in our industry and to assess each new tool or platform on its own merits. By separating hype from reality and taking a thoughtful, strategic approach to AI adoption, we can maximize the benefits of this exciting technology while mitigating potential risks.

Dallas McLaughlin

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Dallas McLaughlin LLC

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