Marketing and Automation

Working class jobs are no longer the only occupations at risk of being automated by advancing technology. As our computers learn to complete more complex tasks, and not just those of manual labor, they become more capable of performing jobs that are currently undertaken by humans. Across the broad selection of marketing and digital marketing roles the risk of automation is varied.

A website aptly named ‘Will Robots Take My Job?’ allows visitors to see the ‘automation risk level’ of various professions and roles. A quick search on this website using the keywords ‘marketing’ reveals a limited but valuable selection of jobs. The first hit is ‘marketing managers,’ who bear a risk level of 1.4% and are thus deemed ‘totally safe.’

The second hit from this search, and the only other marketing role listed, is ‘marketing research analysts and marketing specialists.’ As subordinates of the marketing manager the analysts and specialists have a much greater risk of automation at 61%. The ‘robots are watching’ this particular occupation.

The website is based on the findings of a report published in 2013 by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborn. The paper sought to predict the impact that computerisation would have on 702 occupations, ranging from low-skill low-education jobs to high-skill  high-education professions. The paper reveals that jobs requiring human qualities, such as social and creative skills, are at a lower risk of automation than logical and pattern based occupations. For instance, engineering and science occupations are at a low risk of automation as they require a ‘high degree of creative intelligence.’ So how does this apply to marketing?

For digital marketing, automation poses a varied risk. Functions of digital marketing such as online advertising are reliant upon logical processes, including data analysis and financial assessment. These aspects of digital marketing are likely to be supplemented more and more by computer programs as time goes on. Other key aspects of digital marketing, however, are at a lower risk. For example, SEO and social media marketing require creativity through content creation, thereby lowering their risk of automation.

This suggest that marketing roles, which are often varied in the types of intelligence they require, will experience a restructuring more often than a replacement or redundancy.

The key lesson to take from these findings is that we must adapt to the economy and commercial environment as time goes on. Indeed, adaptation is what we have always done; the difference in this ‘automation’ dilemma is that the pace of change is quicker than we’d like it to be.

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As a marketer, you will benefit greatly from broadening your scope and recognising the value of both the logical and creative sides of your profession. I believe we will see great re-structuring in our roles, but with a limited level of redundancy. In-house marketers will find their jobs easier as the digital aspects of their occupation experience greater automation; the time they gain from automation can be then focused on creative endeavours. Creative agencies will experience the same change; automation will provide them with more time to focus on tasks that require a human touch.

I think marketers are lucky as most marketing roles inherently require emotional, cognitive and creative intelligence. By fostering abilities in all of these areas you will remain valuable despite the looming threat of automation.

[To read the report by Frey and Osborne click this link then hit the download button]

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2 thoughts on “Marketing and Automation

  1. Great post, Michael. I agree, marketing roles may not exist in their current form, but I think we are a long way from AI replacing all of the creative aspects of marketing. Similarly, there will be a lot of new roles created, in order to deal with all of the data. When I grow up, I want to be a Data Storyteller!

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    1. Thanks for the comment Wags. The link you provided casts some optimism on marketing’s future as well; a lot of the jobs seemed to rely on data as well as creativity. Computers may be better at collecting and organising data but it’s people who end up ‘creating’ value from it, like the Data Storyteller.

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