Credit: Scott Corman Photography

On Tuesday November 1, Qoints and OCAD U’s Imagination Catalyst hosted their first collaborative event together in a series we’re calling the “State of MarTech.” The purpose of this event, and future State of MarTech events, is to discuss and dissect the current Marketing Technology (MarTech) landscape, and how it might change in evolve in the future.

The topic of the day centred around the topic of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the evolving role it plays in the digital marketing space. Qoints CEO and Co-founder Cory Rosenfield moderated a panel that included Michael Poyser (VP Analytics, Canada @ Aimia), Sandy Kedey (Chair of Advertising @ OCAD U) and Paul Allamby (Chief Marketing Officer @ Mirum Agency). The main question that the panel came to debate was whether or not AI could conceivably become so advanced that humans would no longer be needed to develop, execute and evaluate digital marketing campaigns. With programmatic ad-buying already so entrenched in today’s media planning, are we at the precipice of a dramatic shift in the digital marketing landscape (as we appear to be in so many other industries)?

Credit: Scott Corman Photography

The setting for this event was the iconic Pencil Building (OCAD Sharp Centre for Design) in downtown Toronto. Dr. Sara Diamond, President of OCAD U, provided the opening address after the early crowd was sufficiently filled with hor d’oeuvres and drinks (special thanks to our beer sponsors, The Pilot and Side Launch Brewing Company!). Dr. Diamond is a great champion for the commercialization of technologies developed by OCAD U students, and is also a strong supporter of the OCAD U Imagination Catalyst incubator (of which Qoints is a proud member). In her address, Dr. Diamond highlighted the success of OCAD U graduates (“in 2015, 7 of the top Creative Directors in Canada were OCAD U alumni”) and also set the stage for the conversation to come:

“We are here tonight to discuss not only the art, but also the science… that is, significant advancement in Marketing Technologies that are changing and challenging the traditional ways that advertising has operated.”

“It will be a very interesting dynamic between human intelligence and machine intelligence as we plot our future.”

 

Credit: Scott Corman Photography

Following Dr. Diamond’s inspiring remarks, the panel was introduced and took their seats. Cory started with a couple lay-up questions to establish a baseline of knowledge for the 100+ people in attendance, which included representatives from major brands, marketing agencies, local startup companies and of course, OCAD U students. Several Toronto-based MarTech startups were also on hand to showcase their products, including Sampler, 5crowd and #paid. As Cory started venturing towards more open-ended questions, the panel began to diverge in their commentary.

Here’s a selection of highlights from the discussion:

Credit: Sayeda Akbary

Cory Rosenfield:

“Will it get to the point in the near future, or future at all, where the human marketer as we know it has been replaced by artificial intelligence – a robot, as we call them?”

“If there aren’t enough jobs, what will people do with their time? Will they contribute positively or negatively to society?”

Credit: Scott Corman Photography

Michael Poyser:

“I have a list of about 18 projects we’re currently working on at Aimia, and another 7 in the pipeline, that are considered AI.”

“Once people start realizing the importance of data then the natural progression is, why does it have to all be done by humans? There’s going to have to be more automation and more done by machines. So it’s just a matter of time until more marketing functions are being done by machines.”

Credit: Scott Corman Photography

Sandy Kedey:

“If we are trying to compete in an omnichannel world, we need some standardization.”

Credit: Scott Corman Photography

Paul Allamby:

“There’s a sense of confusion between marketing automation and artificial intelligence.”

“My bet is one of the first areas that will be impacted is media.”

“The dangers of AI come down to the issue of trust. If you are able to say to the creator ‘how will this make things better for me?’ and then verify how we can [know that] it’s doing what you say it’s doing […] we need some kind of measurement and external verification process if we can’t see how the analytics are performing.”

The panel certainly agreed on AI becoming more and more prevalent, and as a result, verification and standardization will become central issues in the near future. Judging by the feedback from the event, everyone left with a broader understanding of MarTech (particularly the major role that AI is set to play within the space). Be sure to watch for an invite to the second State of MarTech event, which will take place in the New Year!

At the end of the discussion, Cory shared what was an anticipated special announcement, informing the audience about the pending launch of Qoints digital marketing benchmarks for the Household Goods and Health & Beauty verticals in January of 2017. Read more about the announcement here.

A few more shots from the event:


Credit: Scott Corman Photography

Credit: Scott Corman Photography

Credit: Sayeda Akbary

Credit: Scott Corman Photography

Credit: Sayeda Akbary

Credit: Sayeda Akbary
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