What Will Happen to Marketing in the Age of AI? | Jessica Apotheker | TED

12 Dec 202310:44

TLDRThe transcript discusses the evolution of productivity in the marketing industry over the past 30 years, highlighting the transition from basic word processors to complex data analysis. It emphasizes the impending impact of generative AI, predicting a significant shift in how marketing professionals work. The speaker argues that instead of reducing work hours, the increased efficiency from AI will lead to more content creation and personalized marketing. However, this also risks content overload and a lack of originality. To counteract this, marketing functions need to develop a 'left-AI brain,' strategically integrating AI tools into decision-making while nurturing top creative talent to maintain brand identity and innovation.


  • 🕰️ The promise of early word processors and spreadsheets was to reduce work time, but instead, they led to longer documents and more complex decision-making.
  • 💡 Generative AI is anticipated to be the next major productivity revolution, embedding itself into organizational workflows.
  • 🤔 The challenge lies in seizing the productivity opportunities AI presents without increasing the workload or leading to content overload for consumers.
  • 🎯 Marketing, traditionally a creative field, will be significantly impacted by AI, potentially increasing productivity by up to 50%.
  • 🚀 AI tools like ChatGPT are already improving marketers' right-brain performance by 40%, indicating a shift towards more specialized skills.
  • 🌟 The potential downside of AI is the risk of content homogenization, reducing the diversity of outcomes in marketing.
  • 🔄 To adapt, marketing and other functions should 'grow a left-AI brain' by strategically reskilling and reorganizing to integrate AI into decision-making.
  • 🌐 Companies should think outside their ecosystem and partner with relevant entities to access diverse data and content for AI training.
  • 💥 Over-reliance on generative AI can stifle innovation, dropping the collective divergence of ideas by as much as 40%.
  • 🎨 Marketers should identify and nurture their strengths, whether in creativity or data analysis, to leverage AI effectively while maintaining brand identity and innovation.

Q & A

  • What was the initial promise of word processors and spreadsheets 30 years ago?

    -The initial promise was that these technologies would reduce the time spent on writing, drawing slides, and computing numbers, leading to increased leisure time and productivity.

  • How has the reality of using word processors and spreadsheets evolved over the past 30 years?

    -Instead of working less, people now write longer documents and create more complex PowerPoint presentations, engaging in more complex decision-making due to the explosion of data.

  • What is the next big productivity revolution mentioned in the transcript?

    -The next big productivity revolution is the integration of generative AI into the core of organizations and the way people work.

  • How is marketing expected to be impacted by the advent of generative AI?

    -Marketing is expected to be significantly impacted, with some estimates suggesting a productivity increase of up to 50%. This will transform the core of marketing activities and potentially change the way marketers work.

  • What does the speaker suggest marketers will do with the increased time and productivity provided by AI?

    -The speaker suggests that instead of using the extra time for leisure, marketers will likely invest it in creating more content and ideas, leading to a more personalized consumer experience.

  • What are the potential negative outcomes for consumers with the rise of generative AI in marketing?

    -The potential negative outcomes include content overload and a lack of diversity in messaging, as generative AI may produce similar content based on existing data, leading to a homogenized marketing landscape.

  • What does the speaker recommend for marketing functions to adapt to the productivity revolution?

    -The speaker recommends that marketing functions should 'grow a left-AI brain,' which means strategically reskilling and reorganizing to embed predictive AI tools in decision-making processes and protect their top right-brained talent.

  • How can companies avoid being trapped in their current territory with AI?

    -Companies should think outside their direct ecosystem and seek partnerships with relevant data and content providers to expand their understanding of new consumer segments and avoid missing out on important trends.

  • What is the risk of over-relying on generative AI in the innovation process?

    -Over-relying on generative AI can lead to a 40% drop in the collective divergence of ideas, stifling true innovation and potentially leading to a loss of brand identity and differentiation in the market.

  • What advice does the speaker give to marketers regarding their role in the AI-driven future?

    -Marketers should choose their brain, focusing on either cultivating their creativity and innovation or specializing in data and predictive AI competencies, depending on their strengths and interests.



📈 The Evolution of Productivity and the Emergence of Generative AI

This paragraph discusses the historical context of productivity advancements, starting with the introduction of word processors and spreadsheets 30 years ago, which promised to save time and reduce the effort required for writing and calculations. However, instead of working less, people now produce longer documents and more complex presentations. The speaker, a marketer, highlights the arrival of generative AI as the next big leap in productivity, predicting significant changes in the way organizations and individuals work. The speaker emphasizes the importance of understanding and seizing the opportunities presented by AI, especially in the field of marketing, which is expected to be greatly impacted by these technological advancements.


💡 Navigating the AI Revolution in Marketing: Balancing Creativity and Data

The speaker delves into the implications of generative AI for marketing, suggesting that the field needs to develop a 'left-AI brain' to strategically integrate AI tools into decision-making processes. This involves building teams skilled in marketing data science and engineering to enhance predictive capabilities and performance. The speaker shares an example of a consumer goods company that successfully implemented AI tools across its organization, leading to a virtuous feedback loop. However, the speaker warns against over-reliance on AI, which could lead to a lack of innovation and brand identity. The speaker advises companies to think outside their ecosystem and consider partnerships that can provide diverse data and content to train their AI models, ensuring they remain relevant and competitive in the market.


🎨 Cultivating the Right and Left Brains in the Age of AI

In the final paragraph, the speaker advises marketers to assess their strengths and choose their path accordingly in the evolving landscape of AI. For those with strong creative abilities, the speaker encourages nurturing these skills as a superpower. For those inclined towards data and rationality, the speaker suggests specializing in predictive AI competencies. The speaker emphasizes the need for marketers to select their 'brain' strategy—either leveraging AI for inspiration and prototyping or focusing on data-driven decision-making. The overarching message is to balance the use of AI with human creativity and critical thinking to maintain a competitive edge in the market.



💡Productivity Revolution

The term 'Productivity Revolution' refers to a significant shift or advancement in the way work is done, leading to increased efficiency and reduced time spent on tasks. In the video, it is used to describe the transformative impact of technology on the workforce, particularly in relation to the introduction of word processors, spreadsheets, and generative AI. The speaker reflects on the initial promise of such technologies to reduce work hours, which did not materialize as expected, but instead led to more complex tasks and decision-making due to the explosion of data.

💡Generative AI

Generative AI refers to artificial intelligence systems that can create new content, such as text, images, or music, based on patterns learned from existing data. In the context of the video, generative AI is seen as a game-changer for marketing and productivity, with the potential to significantly improve the performance of marketers by automating creative tasks and generating personalized content. However, it also poses challenges, such as the risk of content overload and the dilution of brand identity if not managed properly.


Marketing is the process of promoting and selling products or services, including market research, advertising, and the management of product distribution. In the video, marketing is portrayed as a traditionally creative function that is heavily impacted by the advent of generative AI, with the potential for a significant increase in productivity and the need for marketers to adapt by developing new skill sets and integrating AI into their strategies.

💡Content Personalization

Content Personalization refers to the practice of tailoring content to meet the specific needs and preferences of individual consumers. In the video, the speaker envisions a future where generative AI enables marketers to create highly personalized content, such as emails that are specifically tailored to an individual's age, gender, and interests, thereby enhancing the consumer experience and potentially increasing brand engagement.

💡Content Overload

Content Overload occurs when individuals are exposed to an excessive amount of information or content, leading to information saturation and potentially overwhelming the consumer. In the video, the concept is used to highlight a potential negative outcome of generative AI in marketing, where the increase in personalized content could lead to consumers feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of material being presented to them.

💡Marketing Analytics

Marketing Analytics involves the use of data and statistical tools to analyze marketing data and assess the effectiveness of marketing strategies. It helps businesses make informed decisions about marketing initiatives. In the video, the speaker notes that over the past 15 years, marketing has evolved to include more specialized skill sets like marketing analytics, which has been crucial in adapting to the changes brought about by digital marketing and generative AI.

💡Marketing Data Scientists

Marketing Data Scientists are professionals who specialize in analyzing and interpreting complex marketing data to inform strategic decisions. They use advanced statistical models and machine learning techniques to uncover insights and predict market trends. In the video, the speaker discusses the importance of building teams of marketing data scientists and engineers to leverage AI tools for better decision-making and performance prediction within marketing functions.

💡Federated Model

A Federated Model is a data architecture approach where multiple organizations or entities collaborate and share data while maintaining autonomy and privacy. In the context of the video, the speaker suggests using a federated model with potential data and content partners outside of one's direct ecosystem to gain insights and strengthen marketing efforts for new consumer segments.


Innovation refers to the process of introducing new ideas, methods, or products to improve or create value. In the video, the speaker emphasizes the importance of maintaining innovation in marketing, warning that over-reliance on generative AI can lead to a decrease in collective divergence of ideas, stifling true innovation.

💡Brand Identity

Brand Identity is the unique set of visual, verbal, and emotional elements that represent a brand and differentiate it from competitors. It encompasses the brand's name, logo, design, tagline, and overall image. In the video, the speaker discusses the risk of losing brand identity through the grand equalization of marketing, where generative AI could lead to homogenized marketing content, thus diluting the brand's uniqueness.

💡Left-AI Brain

The term 'Left-AI Brain' is used in the video to describe the strategic integration of AI and data-driven skills within an organization's functions, particularly in marketing. It suggests the need for functions to develop analytical and technical capabilities to complement their traditional creative skills, in order to fully leverage the potential of AI and maintain a competitive edge.


30 years ago, the advent of word processors and spreadsheets promised a productivity revolution.

The reality is that instead of working less, we now produce longer documents and more complex presentations.

Generative AI is the next big productivity revolution, set to embed itself in our organizations and work processes.

Marketing is expected to have a high productivity impact, possibly as much as 50% with the integration of AI.

Traditional marketing relied on creativity and emotional connection with consumers.

Digital marketing and analytics have already transformed marketing into a more specialized field.

Generative AI like ChatGPT can improve marketers' right-brain performance by 40%.

Marketers could use the additional time from AI productivity to create more content and ideas.

Personalized content could lead to a more engaging consumer experience.

There is a risk of content overload and a lack of diversity in messaging due to AI's training on existing content.

To adapt to AI productivity, marketing and other functions need to develop a 'left-AI brain' for strategic reskilling and reorganization.

Marketing data scientists and engineers will play a key role in embedding AI tools in decision-making processes.

Companies should think outside their ecosystem and partner with relevant data and content providers for a broader perspective.

Over-reliance on generative AI can lead to a 40% drop in the divergence of ideas, stifling innovation.

It's crucial to protect the right-brained talent in marketing to maintain brand identity and differentiation.

Marketers should choose their path: cultivate creativity and innovation or specialize in data-driven, AI-augmented skills.

The future of marketing will depend on the balance between leveraging AI's productivity and maintaining human creativity and brand uniqueness.