60% of Enterprise Marketers Set To Use AI in Content Strategy in 2018

More than 500 surveyed marketers provide insight on AI-adoption tipping point, with key benefits aligned around personalization and customer experience

A new survey released by BrightEdge, the leader in enterprise SEO and content performance marketing, reveals marketers have become more receptive to adoption of artificial intelligence technologies, such as machine learning, and their capabilities to deliver better customer experience and marketing performance. In its second annual “Future of Marketing” survey, BrightEdge surveyed over 500 digital marketers at Fortune 500 brands split evenly across both B2B and B2C companies over a one-month period in February 2018. The “Future of Marketing” survey offers a bevy of insights on the current state of how brands are using AI to deliver a more personalized customer experience through smart content.

In the 2017 “Future of Marketing” survey, marketers believed in a future ruled by the likes of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and voice search. Yet, most in-house marketers and agency practitioners had done little to introduce these powerful components into their digital marketing strategy to deliver compelling customer experiences that perform.

In 2018, marketer responses on the “Future of Marketing” reveal quite different patterns of technology adoption and benefits. Most notably, this year’s findings revealed 60 percent of marketers intend to use artificial intelligence (AI) to develop content marketing strategy. 

In this year’s survey, nearly 75% of all marketers responded that three trends are dominating the thinking of marketers. Additionally, each of the top three themes require and use Artificial Intelligence today. According to marketers, the next big technology is as follows:

  • Personalization - 29% of respondents
  • Artificial Intelligence - 26% of respondents
  • Voice Search -  22% of respondents

“Despite some of the hype surrounding artificial intelligence, this survey shows that AI is very real and marketers are adopting AI-first technology in search and content marketing sectors faster than most,”  said Jim Yu, CEO of BrightEdge. “The insights that AI brings allows marketers to make smarter and faster decisions to deliver compelling customer experiences that perform.”

Finding #1: Marketers Set to use AI to Develop their Content Marketing Strategies

how like likely are you to use artificial intelligence? Survey results

Nearly 60% of all marketers responded that they plan to use artificial intelligence in their content marketing strategy. In 2017, only 43% of respondents said they were likely to use artificial intelligence or deep learning to develop their content marketing strategy, while 50% of respondents said they were “very unlikely.” This represents a major finding--and an important leap forward for the modern data-driven marketer. Marketers are adopting cutting-edge technologies to deliver more personalized customer experiences:

  • 42 percent of marketers responded they are somewhat likely to use Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Deep Learning to develop their content marketing strategy
  • 17 percent of marketers are very likely to implement AI and Deep Learning
  • 4 percent already implemented AI and Deep Learning

“Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning is an interesting area we’ve been exploring to weave into our SEO strategy at IBM and our partnership with BrightEdge is critical to staying ahead of the digital marketing curve.” Ellen Mamedov, Head of SEO at IBM.

Finding #2: AI is Enabling Marketers to Understand the Customer, Drive Productivity and Create Better Performing Content

What success stories are you seeing with AI? Survey results

Marketers already using AI indicated it is delivering them benefits, particularly in terms of understanding the customer and driving productivity.

  • 31 percent have a better understanding of the customer, helping to drive more personalized customer experiences
  • 27.1 percent of respondents said it is driving more productivity and time-savings
  • 14.5 percent indicated better-performing content
  • 8.5 percent of respondents said it is driving an increase in ROI

“Digital marketing has become very complex from opportunity identification through content creation to optimization. BrightEdge brings the AI firepower to my job and makes it easier for me to succeed.” Eugene Feygin, Sears

Finding #3: Obstacles to AI Adoption and a Wake-Up Call for MarTech

Marketers have gone through plenty of hype cycles. From the social craze to the big data movement, the next big thing comes and goes. But AI is real, and its potential can’t be understated. Companies like Google and Amazon are transforming into AI-first companies and accelerating the pace of change. From Google’s RankBrain algorithm to voice search to Amazon’s product recommendations, AI is driving change in the market faster than ever before.

With that said, AI is still met with confusion and, in some cases, skepticism. The early signs of a possible AI divide are emerging in the digital marketing space. Some marketers and companies are making the push towards AI-First. Others are not, and the typical challenges facing marketers are still prevalent:

  • 37 percent of marketers have no plans to use AI and Deep Learning, especially around the development of their content marketing strategy
  • 10 percent of respondents said they believe AI is all hype or lack an understanding of what AI is and what AI really does for a marketer
  • In terms of obstacles, marketers indicated confusion on what is/is not AI (30%) and limited budget (28 percent) as the greatest deterrents to adoption

Finding #4: 58 percent of organizations do not have a data scientist in their organization

Do you have a data scientist at your company? Survey results

One of the key challenges that marketers highlighted is the absence of a data scientist in the organization. 58% of marketers surveyed said they did not have a data scientist with and additional 10 percent ‘not sure.’ In the absence of a data scientist, brands often turn to AI to help them uncover insights

Finding #5: AI has Become “Mission Critical” to Marketers

The survey also asked whether AI is mission-critical in current marketing technologies. A majority of respondents (54 percent) said AI is a must-have, mission-critical, or important to have. This is a tipping point. For the first time, the majority of marketers see AI and a key feature in the marketing technology they purchase. Additionally, 32% of respondents agreed marketing technologies must integrate AI into their current role and workflow.

However, more than a quarter of marketers remain skeptical of the benefits of artificial intelligence, with 29% of respondents saying they see AI as a requirement not an added feature.

Marketers looking to integrate AI into their strategies can start by researching current technology partners that are part of their current workflow, looking at current platforms applying AI and learning about the power of AI. The most innovative companies are natively integrating AI into their platform, making it possible for any marketer to be an AI-first marketer today.

You can download the full survey, results and charts below:

BrightEdge Future of Marketing and AI Survey


About BrightEdge:

BrightEdge, the global leader in enterprise organic search and content performance, empowers marketers to transform online content into business results such as traffic, conversions and revenue. The BrightEdge S3 platform is powered by a sophisticated deep learning engine and is the only company capable of web-wide, real-time measurement of content engagement across all digital channels, including search, social and mobile. BrightEdge’s 1,500+ customers include global brands such as 3M, Microsoft and Nike, as well as 57 of the Fortune 100. The company has eight offices worldwide and is headquartered in Foster City, California.


PR Inquiries: brightedge@theabbiagency.com