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ROAI – The Real Return on Artificial Intelligence In Marketing

Written by
Tom Olivieri

Let’s address the elephant in the room – people won’t stop talking about AI. The thing that’s “transforming marketing and other industries like never before.” The two most popular letters in your newsfeed: AI. 

ChatGPT this. MidJourney that. Oooh! I can automate my Google sheets! 

We get it. It’s cool. It’s new-ish. 

But is it actually making or saving you money? Or is it just hype without real helpfulness?

Let’s start by discussing the new ways people are using AI. While it’s currently all over the news, versions of AI have existed in business for quite some time. In fact, according to Statista, over 80% of digital marketers already use AI in some way – our guess is that many don’t even realize they’re using it. If you’ve ever used the content aware fill or automated object selection in Photoshop, you’ve used AI. If you’ve ever used a tool to predict consumer behavior from a data and analytics company, you’ve used AI. Now thanks to OpenAI (the company behind tools like ChatGPT and DALL-E) we’ve seen these interactions and interfaces become more user-friendly, leading to great adoption of AI across mainstream disciplines.


The Return On Creative 

Creatively, a team can utilize AI for three major functions: ideation, image direction, and iteration. 

Ideation is the process of forming ideas or concepts. I wish I could say AI has awesome ideas, but in reality it just has ideas. Sometimes it provides new angles to consider; to explore. Many times the ideas are expected. Other times it’s just the spark we need. Is this going to yield the biggest return? No. But it’s nice to have more ideas to mold into something better. 

Image direction can take hours. Anyone who has had to sift through the endless sea of stock imagery for references knows that it can take hours – especially if you’re just trying to find the right style and direction to help prove out a concept. AI has completely changed this. Thanks to Dall-E2, MidJourney, Stable Diffusion, and others, we can actually art direct exactly what we’re looking for to bring a concept to life. This doesn’t replace photography – yet – but it certainly saves time, makes the creative vision more powerful, and generates an enormous return.

Iteration is where AI really shines. In today’s world of testing and learning, you need a variety of content that drives brand and demand. Sometimes simple layout, color, and copy changes can make a meaningful difference. The aforementioned tools make it easy to change layout, color, and video order choice based on predicted consumer behavior. Copy tools like ChatGPT, Copy.AI, and Persado make it easy to instantly generate multiple versions of one piece of copy. Best of all, the more often you use these copy tools the more accurately they hit your desired tone of voice. This allows you to think big and small at the same time. 


The Return on Media

What if I told you that AI could predict the next best dollar to spend, down to the audience and placement?

Marketers have been using predictive analytics for quite some time. Unfortunately, most platforms offer some version of this in their own platform, walled off from all of your other data. That’s why marketers and agencies are using AI to help power their own platforms – platforms that analyze all the data and determine the best activation tactics. The key to this is not relying solely on customer behavior data, as behaviors can shift rapidly due to numerous factors. This makes predictions – like the pandemic downturn or the rise in privacy concerns – hard to see by itself. This type of AI is not a simple chatbot, so you’ll want to stick to the places that specialize in it (like us!) But once you unlock this data, the return on your media budget is unmatched. 

With SEO, content is king, optimization is queen, and brands will do anything to be seen. AI has been dominating the SEO world as of late. AI-powered tools can analyze and understand user intent, optimize headlines, and improve the structure of the content to make it more readable and search-engine friendly. AI-powered tools can do a great job in helping optimize headlines, review structure, etc., but when it comes to crafting actual articles it tends to be very generic and falls short of crafting an engaging story that guides you through information. And while it may get to a point where it can generate more engaging content, there are teams actively working against AI powered content – Google included – to ensure that search doesn’t turn into a whirlpool of regurgitated information that becomes stagnant. All of this is to say that solely relying on AI tools to generate broad amounts of content isn’t a long term strategy – but it’s a great tool to make the process more efficient.

Where AI has the broadest impact for marketers and creatives is its ability to automate monotonous tasks – things like data entry, scheduling, and reporting. By automating these tasks you’re freeing up time to focus on more pressing things. In fact, according to PWC, AI has the potential to boost employee productivity by approximately 40% by 2035. Take AI-powered chatbots for example. Chatbots can answer customer inquiries and reduce the workload of customer support teams. It’s almost like having a personal assistant, a teacher, and a team of highly-trained T200s all in one. Here, the return is very high on the personal level.


AI isn’t just the flavor of the week. Its uses are expanding and becoming more effective each day with each prompt. At WITHIN, we’re constantly exploring and testing new ways to put it to use to deliver higher ROI for our partners and better customer experience for their users. 

Reach out to us if you’re curious to learn how AI can help your brand more efficiently reach its consumer or growth targets. We promise you a human will respond!

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Written by
Tom Olivieri


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