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Accelerating AI-Driven Marketing Maturity | BCG

Unlock 1: Enable strategic decision making by linking marketing performances to strategic outcomes through online and offline execution. The capabilities underlying this unlock include strategic KPI setting, integrated planning, end-to-end measurement (across the journey, linking online and offline channels), test-and-learn culture, and target tech stack (enabling measurement and KPI setting as tools for decision making, such as by adopting advanced cloud-based platforms that disseminate common knowledge to support decision making).

“It is key for us to integrate offline and online data to guide our investments more effectively across channels. For example, we attempt to connect in-store behavior with digital campaigns to evaluate their effectiveness. AI allows us to bridge measurement and data gaps, thereby improving the quality of customer activation,” the digital director of a European luxury brand said.

Unlock 2: Foster integrated teams with AI and GenAI specialist skill sets by leveraging partners or insourcing strategic capabilities. The capabilities underlying this unlock include agile collaboration, specialist skills, data-driven decision making, adtech centralization, and GenAI workflow reimagination (that is, integrating GenAI along the entire marketing value chain of activities to enhance productivity).

“Partnering with specialists who have the right skill sets is crucial. We do not merely utilize our partners as craftsmen, but also as strategic advisors. We orchestrate their efforts toward our shared objectives and encourage them to exchange insights and perspectives to maximize our benefits,” said a marketing director of a European e-commerce company.

Unlock 3: Ensure actionability of data rather than mass data collection. Shifting from isolated organic 1P and 2P data collection strategies to proactive, purpose-driven, and enriched data collection and activation can drive demonstrable value. The capabilities underlying this unlock include targeting audiences and data sources (for example, by using enriched 0P, 1P, and 2P data from multiple sources to create one-to-one audience personalization), privacy readiness for a cookieless future, user identification, data enrichment and monetization (such as by focusing on mature use cases with demonstratable returns to maximize data value, consumer value, and trust).

“We proactively shaped our agenda early on to prepare for a cookieless future. We utilize AI-powered technologies for user identification, measuring effectiveness, and making informed decisions on marketing investments. Support from senior management enabled us to secure the necessary cross-functional resources,” said the marketing director of the European e-commerce company.

Unlock 4: Prioritize smart execution of select use cases that drive business impact, instead of chasing the latest market trend. The most mature brands have successfully implemented AI and GenAI in their everyday activities, with proven impact. They use AI’s automation to optimize tasks, elevate strategies and personalize creatives and activation. The capabilities underlying this unlock include data-driven content, data-enabled media activation (i.e., automated campaigns to enable dynamic coordination and sequencing across channels), predictive power and embedded AI, and personalized experiences.

“AI has changed how we view audiences. We have shifted from a segment-based perspective to an outcome-based one. This has increased our effectiveness because audience definitions are constantly and dynamically changing,” noted the head of digital at a leading retailer.

Roadmap to Improve Maturity

Whether a brand’s marketing maturity level is nascent, emerging, or connected, it needs a strategy to move to the next level and eventually achieve multi-moment status. Today, unlike in the past, companies can’t just accelerate a specific area or capability to catch up. To pursue maturity and unlock benefits, brands must develop across multiple capabilities in parallel.

Our research, including interviews and case studies with brands, enables us to chart the most direct path to increasing brands’ maturity level. Building on our results, we have defined a distinct roadmap for using the four “unlocks” to advance a brand’s maturity to the highest level. (See Exhibit 6.)

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