AI (Artificial Intelligence) has the world up in arms, but it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s important to have a basic understanding of how businesses can use it to their advantage, and what adopting it means for diversity, equity and inclusion. That’s why we’ve tapped branding and marketing expert Kimberly Wilson to help us make sense of it.
WIlson is a veteran brand whisperer who has been a c-suite executive at companies like Sirius, Disney, iHeart Radio and more. She specializes in DEI strategy in the digital age, and frequently travels the world where she discusses AI and more.
According to PWC, artificial intelligence (AI)-driven marketing is set to drive 45% of the total global economy by 2030. We’re already seeing some of the potential negative consequences play out like with the writer’s strike and the actors strike. However, AI is complex, and whether through content generation, automation or segmentation, it’s changing the way brands communicate and market their companies to consumers.
Here’s what Wilson has to say about the generative AI boom, and how brands can use it responsibly.
AURN Online: AI has been around for years, but it seems like now everyone has access to it. How have you seen the use of AI change over the years, and where are we now with it? Is it something that we should be ringing alarm bells about?
Kimberly Wilson: It’s interesting, I was doing a little research because I think AI, that term has been used in a few different ways. I think what we’re talking about in the marketplace today is really generative AI, but AI has been around probably since 1950, ’51. I think once we all kind of settle on exactly what we are talking about when we say AI — search is a form of AI, personalization and marketing is a form of AI. How are we using our trader-based prompts to either create or engage? I think right now, generative AI is a topic of today because what it really has done is democratize it for more people to use.
For a long time, only a few people had access to the ability to, I don’t want to say manipulate images, so I’m going to be careful, but that’s an example of just being able to generate content through the use of some form of artificial intelligence. The conversation has been around for a very long time, and I think right now, in my opinion, because there are bad actors that tend to create more noise around the negative, it becomes more of a bigger topic.
With the marketplace and loss of jobs, just regardless of AI, where the market is right now, the use of automation in ways that we probably haven’t seen before, I think it’s probably triggering for some people. But every generation has its own version of that. It is interesting that it has really dominated the conversation.
AURN Online: I know people are ringing alarm bells about it for the negative things that can come from generative AI, but it can also be used for good or productivity. So, how does a brand use AI responsibly with regards to marketing?
KW: There’s a lot of the discussion that I’ve been having with my peers around it. Just from being able to generate more IP at a rapid rate where it would take some organizations, depending on how savvy they are, multiple teams, and hours of time, being able to leverage your metadata, input it into a system and have it spit out everything you need for a month shaves off the amount of hours spent creating things that really can be created in a second. It allows entry for you to do more. A lot of times organizations aren’t able to personalize or customize the marketing because they don’t have the time or the tools, or in some cases, not even the skillset.
What AI does is, it allows the most junior person on your team or the most senior person on your team, depending on what it is, to be able to do things that would take hours or weeks or days. And I can tell you, being in marketing organizations where we spend a lot of time developing creative, redeveloping that creative, and then having to iterate that on that creative, AI can allow us to move at a much more rapid speed and be able to drive tonnage. To me, and I know there’s people who may be concerned about, “Well, what do I do then?” But it allows you to then think through strategy.
My hope is that AI, as it helps drive creativity, doesn’t replace human beings and the ability to think through intentionality and not just copy. I know people use ChatGPT and Bard and others for copy. It doesn’t replace those eyeballs who can make sure that that copy resonates, that it’s relevant, that it speaks to the intended audience.
AURN Online: That’s an excellent point. I don’t know if this question is too abstract, but how do you see this impacting Black people or people of color? I say this because I feel like literally everything impacts us in some kind of way.
KW: I do a lot of DEI work, and I thought a lot about bias and AI. There’s a professor, I can’t think of his name right now, who’s been suddenly aligned on bias and algorithms. And that to me is very similar to AI. The output is only as good as the data put into it. If the data, the metadata, the raw data is biased, then the output is likely going to be biased.
It’s important that organizations who use AI, whether they’re leveraging their own and in-house IP data, and they’re building their own tools and technologies or tech stacks, or they are licensing it out, that they be really mindful. I had a conversation with a friend of mine who works in education for a nonprofit, and his concern was around children and a live impact in targeting children in education, and what information they’re being met with when it comes to that building curriculum, and who’s really owning that message. AI might seem automated. It may seem neutral, but it’s still generated by humans and the data that we have at our fingertips. I know some organizations have started by only using their own IP, decades of images and copy and assets to build a database that they can use to become more automated. Then there are organizations who license out to AI companies. But at the end of the day, there’s bias in the data and we just have to be vigilant on making sure that that doesn’t go unchecked.