Marketers Plan Major AI Investment Boost Despite Knowledge Gaps

A recent report has highlighted the rapidly evolving landscape of AI in marketing, with a remarkable 90% of marketers planning to increase their AI investment in 2024. This surge in AI adoption is set to make 2024 a pivotal year for AI technology in the marketing sector.

Interestingly, the report also revealed that nearly all marketers (93%) claim expert or advanced knowledge of marketing AI technology. However, this assertion is juxtaposed with the fact that many marketers also list a lack of AI knowledge as one of the main barriers to adoption. This discrepancy suggests a potential overconfidence in their AI skills, but despite this, it’s clear that marketers are eager to embrace AI and understand the potential costs of not keeping up with this transformative technology.

The economic conditions of recent years have placed a premium on smart, efficient spending, particularly within the marketing industry. While it may seem counterintuitive that 90% of marketers plan to increase their investment in AI, an even greater number (95%) believe that AI will enable them to allocate their budgets more effectively. The primary reasons for increasing AI investment are directly tied to revenue growth: faster customer acquisition, improved ROAS (return on ad spend), enhanced customer retention, and productivity gains.

AI is becoming so integral to marketing strategies that it’s earning its own dedicated budget line item. The report found that 86% of respondents will have specific AI martech budgets in 2024. This rapid adoption of AI is unprecedented. Over the past decade and a half, marketers have invested heavily in new technologies like marketing automation or ABM platforms, but these were adopted over several years. In contrast, AI adoption is happening within months.

AI offers a tremendous opportunity for marketers as it can impact many aspects of marketing – from budgeting and planning to executing across multiple programs. The optimism surrounding AI in this report is therefore understandable. However, marketers must ensure they have the necessary knowledge to quickly adopt AI technology that delivers the most significant business impacts, or they risk being left behind.

Marketers are showing high confidence in their AI skills, with 93% claiming expert or advanced-level knowledge. This confidence extends to their organisations, with 87% believing their businesses are more advanced AI users than their competitors. However, this optimism may be somewhat misplaced as not everyone can be an expert and a leader. The report found that executives (60%), directors (45%), and managers (32%) lead in claiming expert-level familiarity with AI. Yet, only 18% say executives own AI adoption, while 34% attribute it to marketing operations and 29% to departmental managers. This suggests that those directly involved in AI adoption likely have a higher level of AI expertise.

Despite the optimism, concerns about the potential negative impacts of AI persist. The divide between those who believe AI will create more jobs than it replaces (50%) and those who think the opposite (41%) is narrow. The next year will be critical in determining how these perceptions, and the reality, may shift as AI’s presence in marketing departments grows.

Marketers also understand that ignoring AI could have significant consequences for their organisations and their careers. Over 90% of marketers believe that experience with AI will be crucial when making hiring decisions in 2024, with only 8% saying it will have no significant impact on their future career prospects. This is even reflected in the chief marketing role, with a recent Forrester report finding that “experience with generative AI” is included in 20% of new CMO job descriptions.

The most significant risk of marketing AI could be maintaining the status quo. As AI continues to revolutionise the marketing industry, those who fail to adapt could find themselves left behind. To grow your business in this rapidly evolving landscape, it’s essential to invest in AI and develop the skills necessary to leverage this transformative technology effectively. Whether you’re a marketing consultant or involved in digital marketing, understanding and using AI will be a key factor in your success.

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