By: Philasande Sokhela, a Faculty Member at the Johannesburg Business School

Businesses are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to stay competitive in the ever-changing digital landscape as the world becomes more digitised. Digital marketing is one area where AI has a significant impact. However, as AI assumes more responsibilities in the marketing department, the question arises…

“Are Human Marketing Teams Becoming Obsolete?”

It’s no secret that AI can perform many tasks previously reserved for human marketing professionals. AI can handle tasks like data analysis, campaign optimisation, customer segmentation, and targeted advertising more efficiently and accurately than humans. As AI advances, it will become more capable of handling more complex marketing tasks. From Google Trends, artificial intelligence is growing in popularity, especially in COVID times.

OpenAI’s GPT-3, also known as ChatGPT Chatbot, is a notable AI platform that is a powerful tool for natural language generation, language translation, and question answering. Its ability to understand and respond to natural language input has made it a popular choice for businesses and developers looking to build conversational interfaces – a glimpse of search interest in ChatGPT globally since its launch in November 2022.

Google Trends search: ChatGPT – Worldwide (2023)

In South Africa, here’s what the graphs look like:

Google Trends search: ChatGPT – South Africa (2023)

People are slowly becoming aware of AI and its impact thanks to ChatGPT. However, each industry is impacted differently by AI. In digital marketing, AI is able to process and analyse massive amounts of data at breakneck speeds. Businesses can gain valuable insights and make data-driven decisions in real-time, resulting in more effective and efficient marketing campaigns. Furthermore, AI can automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks, allowing human marketers to focus on more strategic and creative tasks. Meaning marketers will have more time to look at strategic issues rather than day-to-day operational tasks and vanity metrics reporting.

What about digital marketing teams?

As AI assumes more responsibilities in marketing, there are concerns that human marketing teams will become obsolete. With machines capable of performing tasks previously performed by humans, businesses may see a reduction in their marketing workforce. This could result in job losses and a shift in the skills needed by marketing professionals to survive. Therefore, we need to rethink marketing in general. If machines can predict consumer behaviours and actions, this could lead to consumers being heavily influenced by AI-generated content, posing a threat to human creativity and originality.

To summarise, while artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionise the field of digital marketing, it is critical to consider the impact it may have on human marketing teams. Businesses should be aware of the potential drawbacks of AI and take steps to mitigate them, such as investing in the training and development of human marketing professionals to ensure their value in an AI-driven world. As the use of AI in digital marketing grows, it is critical to strike a balance between automation and human creativity to maintain the industry’s human touch.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Johannesburg Business School or the University of Johannesburg.