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The use of artificial intelligence (AI) to drive campaigns and experiences is one of the most exciting prospects for digital marketers and e-commerce professionals in the coming years, more so than virtual or augmented reality and the internet of things (IoT). The latest Digital Trends report [download page] from Econsultancy and Adobe also reveals that top-performing companies are more than twice as likely as mainstream companies to already be putting AI to use.

The study is based on a survey of almost 12,800 digital marketing and e-commerce professionals from the client-side (60%) and supply-side (40%), with respondents hailing primarily from Europe (44%), followed by Asia (21%), North America (16%) and other regions.

Top-performing companies are those who exceeded their business goals and believe that they’re outperforming their competitors. Some 28% of these organizations say they’re already using AI, compared to 12% of “mainstream companies.” Overall, some 57% of the top-performing companies either are using or plan to use AI in the next 12 months, while fewer than half of “mainstream” companies concur.

Data released last year by Salesforce suggested a greater usage of AI: while it was the least-adopted technology among those identified, 51% reported putting AI to use in their marketing efforts.

The top use case for artificial intelligence among respondents to this latest study is the analysis of data, according to roughly half of the survey sample across regions.

Other uses are very much secondary in nature: about one-quarter use AI for on-site personalization, and between one-fifth and one-quarter do so for optimization and testing, depending on the region.

There are in fact some significant disparities in how AI is used when sorting by region. Those in the Asia-Pacific are far more likely than those in North America and Europe to be using AI for email marketing, content creation, digital asset management, and creative and design work. At the same time, respondents in North America and Europe seem more advanced in their use of AI for optimization and testing.

Why Not Use AI?

For the large share of respondents who don’t plan to use AI in the coming years, there appear to be 3 key reasons:

  • The lack of a perceived need;
  • Lack of knowledge on how it can be used; and
  • Lack of resources.

For client-side respondents, the lack of perceived need is the top reason, while for supply-siders lack of knowledge on how clients can use it is far and away the primary reason for not planning its use.

Recent survey results from Conductor – from a survey of 500 marketing industry respondents – found that AI is the trend that has the most feeling unprepared.

The full study from Econsultancy and Adobe can be downloaded here.

About the Data: Respondents came from a mix of company sizes, job titles and roles. They were fairly evenly split between B2C (33%), B2B (31%) and equal B2B and B2C (36%) companies.

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