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Posted by Katherine


#BrainVsAI has been trending on Twitter lately (some clever bot won a poker game for the first time ever in the US), so I wanted to take a closer look at how AI could change the landscape of digital marketing.

It’s been a while since I did any research into artificial intelligence. It may just be that I’ve been watching too many Sci-Fi films, or because I have an unhealthy curiosity in the brain (I once went to an exhibition on brains at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry), but since the risk of intelligent robots taking over one day is real, I thought it’d be pretty useful – or at least interesting – for us all to know where we’re at with AI in digital marketing.

It’s good to ask questions, right?

What is ai definition


AI isn’t just ‘the three-toed sloth’, as Google would have me believe. AI is artificial intelligence; that is, machines that appear to understand and mimic cognitive functions. They’re machines that may be able to:

    • understand human speech (like Alexa, the artificial intelligence assistant that powers Amazon Echo’s speaker);
    • win poker games (and chess and other tough strategic games);
    • interpret complex data;
The Three Laws of Robotics. I, Robot

(I, Robot will surely happen one day…)



Self-driving cars are also considered to be AI machines. Waymo, the independent self-driving technology company owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is currently testing self-driving cars in America.

Waymo’s cars have no steering wheels, pedals, and, you guessed it, no driver, which has me biting my nails already. They say they plan to bring fully self-driving cars to the world soon (and soon is much too soon for my liking).

We plan to bring fully self-driving cars to the world soon.


Would you ever feel truly safe in a self-driving car? #AI #Waymo Click To Tweet

Ask your friends on Twitter if they would ever trust a self-driving car, or leave your own thoughts in a comment below!


A couple of years ago, intelligent machines and automation were hot topics. The BBC gave us an insight into what the future could look like by creating a tool that estimated how likely it was that our job role would be done by an automated robot in the UK within the next 20 years.

Robots graphic


Although researchers at Oxford University and Deloitte suggested 35% of jobs in the UK were at a high risk of automation in the next 10 to 20 years, it’s not bad news for everyone. It seems, though jobs are being lost in lower-skilled clerical, administrative and manual occupations (when was the last time you used an automated supermarket checkout over a real checkout assistant?), a more recent study into how automation is affecting real-life employment today shows a more positive outlook, at least for in those in high-tech, high-skill or creative industries.

Side Note:

Isaac Asimov’s (author of I, Robot) Three Laws of Robotics

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

The study highlights ‘while technology has potentially contributed to the loss of over 800,000 lower-skilled jobs, there is equally strong evidence to suggest that it has helped to create nearly 3.5 million new higher-skilled ones in their place. Each one of these new jobs pays, on average, just under, £10,000 more per annum than the one lost.’

We’re seeing a steady rise in automated machines everywhere, though sometimes they’re easy to miss. Shop assistants aren’t the only ones in trouble; ‘Library assistants, fishermen, typists and bank clerks have all become rarer as they are replaced by computers and machinery.


Research by @Deloitte reveals that by 2036 a large proportion of British jobs could be automated. Click To Tweet

Of course, there’s a difference between AI and automation, in that automation is merely a machine or software that is programmed to do something automatically (these machines are especially good at repetitive tasks), but there is an overlap (known as ‘intelligent automation’).

Intelligent automation is already being introduced in the business world, but AI, automation, and by extension intelligent automation, artificial general intelligence (AGI) and artificial superintelligence (ASI) all have a long, long way to go.


Marketing is all about building brands and connecting them with people around the world. An agency might offer SEO, design, paid search, social media and other specialist marketing services to grow a client’s business, but sometimes hiring an agency can be too costly for small business owners. So could new advances in AI help? And have any robots taken any digital marketing jobs?

Tailor Brands AI Logo Design


Tailor Brands is an AI algorithmic logo-maker platform that generates branded material almost instantly. Though its generated logos are fairly mediocre, they do make logo design accessible, easy and affordable for start-ups and SMEs.


I’ve covered chatbots in our web design forecast for 2017, but there are two kinds of chatbots: scripted bots and AI bots. Both are more efficient than simple live-chat features, but real independent AI chatbots (built on NLP and MP) are – well, at least they can be – magnificent. is a fantastic example.


Side Note:

What is machine learning?

Machine learning is where a computer teaches itself how to do something, rather than being taught by a human or following detailed programming. And you thought self-taught humans were impressive!

Google’s RankBrain is a machine learning AI system that helps to deliver search engine results through Hummingbird, its search algorithm. It’s one of the hundreds of signals that help to determine how search results are ranked on a Google search page.

There’s a lot of secrecy surrounding RankBrain (nobody really has any in-depth information on it outside of Google) but our understanding is that it props up Hummingbird by interpreting complex or confusing search queries to show relevant results.

Of course, Google has understood synonyms (‘glasses’ and ‘spectacles’) and the difference between singular and plural nouns (‘car’ and ‘cars’) for a long time, but I think (though I have no real idea), that RankBrain can take an unusual conversational search query (that may be confusing even for a human reader to understand), and make an educated guess at what it means by crawling the net for related content. It’s a wild guess, I admit, but isn’t it the things we don’t know that make it all so compelling, anyway?

Useful feedback

Player XP is a game feedback platform for games developers; it uses machine learning and natural language processing to filter and identify constructive feedback through its artificial intelligence program. Though it’s currently only used by games developers, there’s no reason why it couldn’t be tailored into something more useful for businesses.

Creative director

What’s the one thing every creative director doesn’t want to hear? That an AI robot has been appointed as a creative director at a Japanese ad agency, and will assist human employees with ad creation, of course. AI-CD β was developed by McCann Japan, and it (surely not ‘he’ or ‘she’?) has the ability to sift through large quantities of old ads to aid its colleagues. While this AI creation could mark the beginning of the end for some creatives (though we hope not), we can’t deny that we’d love to spend a week with an scarily intelligent AI in our Manchester agency office.

What’s your view on artificial intelligence? Leave a comment or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #BrainVsAI!


We offer a wide range of digital marketing services to meet your objectives, from organic and paid search engine marketing (SEO and PPC), to social media services and conversion rate optimisation (CRO). If you’re looking to work with a creative digital marketing agency in Manchester to grow your business, call us today on 0161 236 0390 to find out how we can help.

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