5 Key Takeaways from The Humans Are Dead
by Geri Tay
Humans can’t be replaced, but
we can do a different job.
As the sun sets over The Humans Are Dead—a future innovation event hosted by April Six and Mezzo Labs—and we reflect on an evening of analysis regarding AI’s place in the world of modern marketing, I’m delighted to share some insights from the day to sate the curious marketing appetite. Below, you’ll find five key takeaways—accompanied by key quotes—designed to give you the tools (and the confidence) to shape your own AI roadmap.
1. AI IS A TOOL TO AUGMENT, NOT SUPPLANT, HUMAN EXPERTISE
While ‘The Humans Are Dead’ is a discussion title that may conjure thoughts of dystopian futures filled with robotic rulers, the truth of the modern day is that AI, like any other technology, is but a tool to bolster the marketer arsenal.
As April Six CEO, Fiona Shepherd, put it:
“While there are people waking up in the night terrified about it, ultimately, AI is okay when it’s used responsibly. Humans can’t be replaced, but we can do a different job, and crucially, a better job when we use AI to its full effect.”
“AI gives us more time to get to the best version of the marketing answer—ultimately, it helps us come up with a better and deeper critique.”
Annette Male, former Agency Director at Meta APAC, echoed this sentiment:
“When it comes to AI, it’s like having a creative magician. You feed inputs or give instructions, and the output could be something never seen or even imagined before.”
And when asked whether the creative team would be replaced by AI, responded:
“You can replace the mundane stuff, allowing for new depths of creativity…but it can’t all be fully replaced, the human tone of voice is so important.”
2. AI WILL BECOME A BATTLEFIELD UPON WHICH MARKETERS COMPETE
As the promise of AI in enhancing human creativity is brought into sharper focus, marketers must shift strategies away from the notion of distinguishing themselves from AI, and towards how to distinguish themselves with AI.
As Kaythaya Maw, CTO at SPH Media, said:
“The question you have to ask yourself is how you’re going to differentiate when everybody else has the same tools and is producing the same type of content? Where is the unique selling proposition? Where is your advantage?”
“The solution will likely be found in the data you can leverage—that industry-specific data that sets you apart. From there, it’s about the right talent, skills, projects and use cases, and making sure policies and usage guidelines exist.”
Jason Gourd, Managing Director of Foundry APAC, agreed with this assessment:
“It’s not so much the tool. It’s how your organization approaches it. And you have to look at every AI deployment as something that’s data-centric—something that’s defined by humans.”
“You have to start with the outcomes, and be very aware of the skill sets you have within your organisation. Then it’s about knowing if you can access the data to make it work, to monitor it, create policy around it, and justify the ROI.”
3. MARKETING FUNCTIONS WILL BE THE FIRST TO ADOPT AI
The versatility of AI in extrapolating findings from large and diverse data sets means that it can add value to business units across an enterprise, but it will find success first within a marketing division more open to experimentation.
Jason Gourd explained:
“The majority of AI deployment will start in the marketing department with low-hanging fruit such as chatbots. Marketing has perhaps the most to gain from AI…as many of the challenges present in the industry are repetitive, require data from multiple sources, and can benefit quickly from integrated findings.”
But while marketing may well be first, it most certainly won’t be the last, as Kaythaya Maw says:
“From an enterprise perspective, Finance and HR departments will find success with AI because it is able to sift through content at speed, which is vitally important when 80% of data in an organisation is unstructured.”
4. AI SUCCESS HINGES ON ROI ACCOUNTABILITY
AI offers an incredible investment opportunity for marketers, but the long-term success and adoption of the technology will really depend on the short-term ROI that is achieved.
As Annette Male put it:
“Marketers will be accountable for the AI ROI, so to optimise the investment, budget must be allocated to those channels that will perform the best—media planning and buying…lead generation…creative.”
Or, putting it a slightly different way, Jason Gourd said:
“What are the reasons why deployment of AI will fail? It comes down to three key areas: first; it was not planned properly, second; there were unrealistic expectations; and third; there is no understanding of how to measure ROI.”
5. AI IS ALREADY BEING USED TO GREAT EFFECT
Even up until recently, the proclamation that ‘AI is the future’ has been a staple part of marketing discourse globally, and yet, if The Humans Are Dead is anything to go by, AI isn’t just the future; it’s also the present of the industry, too.
Fiona Shephard said of April Six:
“As an agency group, we’re using AI to create better-informed briefs. This enables us to take less time to get richer answers, and gives us more time to do the things we—humans—are better at, like interpreting how people behave.”
“We have embedded AI all the way from the briefing process to the creation of visuals that supported our ideas—and while the main concepts came from humans, we probably couldn’t have got to the answer as quickly without AI.”
At April Six, we continue to invest in the future of AI with a vision to create more moments that matter for our partners. If you found this article inspiring and wish for more insights from The Humans Are Dead, then take a look at our infographic featuring up-to-the-minute research findings from a think tank of marketing professionals. Alternatively, if you’d like the support of an agency that’s already found success using AI to deliver marketing in a smarter, faster, more cost-effective way, reach out to Geri Tay at April Six below, and start your AI journey.
Managing Director, Singapore