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Who Will Do Your Media Planning in the Future…People or Machines?

Clearly, the move to buying media programmatically has had a profound impact on staffing and skillsets required from buyers and sellers. How soon before media planning will be similarly impacted by the trend toward machines doing more and more of the heavy lifting?
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Think machine learning will replace the role of media planner and account planners at agencies and within marketing teams? Will your job be one of those replaced by machines in the not too distant future?
 
The amount of data available to planners and the ability for machines to process those massive data sets will continue to grow exponentially. Technological advances will continue to accelerate this, while the costs come down. We all know about Moore’s Law and how computing power doubles about every 18 months, while the cost for that is reduced in half.
 
No doubt, machines are far more capable of sifting through ginormous amounts of all the cloud-stored data being created about all of us, every day. Machines are better at analyzing all the options and determining the absolute best result, which is one of the reasons the role of machine buying in programmatic media has had such a profound impact.

But, if you can differentiate between observations and insights, you already have a leg up on the machines and your job is quite safe, at least for now.

Accomplished planners have a significant advantage over machines in one meaningful way: They are able to use the art of inference, to help develop insights about the brand/consumer relationship.

In short, a machine simply cannot produce as good an insight as a planner who is intimately familiar with the DNA of the brand, the category and the consumer. At least not yet. People still have a built-in advantage over machines when it comes to understanding the nuances of human behavior.
 
How soon might this change where the machines actually are able to think at the same level as humans? At the recent SXSW, Ray Kurzweil held firm on his prediction of 2029 as the year when a computer will pass the Turing test, which is a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligence equivalent to or indistinguishable from that of a human.
 
Scary? Maybe, if you watch lots of science-fiction films about the machines taking over.
 
What is far more likely is the machines, working in tandem with planners at agencies and brands, with an intimate knowledge of the brand’s DNA who understand how to turn statistical inferences into insights, will have an enormous competitive advantage.
 
Brands and agencies need to start leveraging the power of machine learning, as applied to media planning, while continuing to develop the human planner ability to take advantage of the computing power and heavy data-lifting available from advances in technology. 

About the Author

Scott Turner is the Chief Revenue Officer of AffinityAnswers, a platform for predictive branding.

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