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63% of Marketers leveraging AI use generative while 54% use predictive AI is marketers’ top priority – and biggest headache

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Marketers are prioritising AI implementation over all other initiatives this year, according to new Salesforce research in the ninth State of Marketing report.

With customer standards for personalisation continuing to rise year after year and marketing technologies constantly evolving, marketers need to act fast to keep up. Many see AI as a hack to do just that: a go-to for sharper personalization and efficiency, and now, creativity at scale with generative AI. Yet data challenges — from unification, integration, and security — are slowing marketing teams down.

With insights from over 4,800 marketers across 29 countries, the State of Marketing report highlights how top-performing marketers are outdoing their competition by embracing AI and other new opportunities while mitigating these data, trust, and security challenges.

Marketers pursue more tailored engagement amid rising customer expectations

Increasingly, marketers aim for more customised experiences based on detailed data like individual behaviours, preferences, interactions, or other specific indicators. And they are looking to AI to deliver more insights, predictions, automated workflows, and content. As a result, marketers consider having a data and AI strategy of utmost importance. On average, today’s marketers are able to fully personalise across five channels, with high-performers tailoring six channels and underperformers managing to fully personalise across only three.

Channels where content is easy to test and iterate on the fly, like mobile messaging, email marketing, and social media, see the most advanced personalization efforts. On the other hand, channels demanding more production time and planning like audio, organic search, and TV/OTT have the most work to do with 43%, 42%, and 41% seeing full personalization, respectively.

Marketers rev up AI adoption, but underperformers stall out in the evaluation stage

Marketers are pulled in many directions, and are focused on improving AI adoption. However, they’re struggling to actually implement AI and create cohesive journeys, among other difficulties.

Ironically, AI could be one tool to help teams overcome such challenges. Salesforce Chief Marketing Officer Ariel Kelman highlights how companies are entering “a new era of AI, catalysed by the generative gold rush,” and that the technology is being embraced by marketing organisations. As he sees it, “marketers are leading the charge by embracing rapid advancements in the technology to better connect with customers and prospects.”

Marketers are eager to implement AI into their own work streams: 75% are either experimenting with or have fully implemented AI in their operations. A closer look reveals that the embrace of the technology varies by performance level.

The majority of high- and moderate-performing teams are already rigorously testing, tweaking, and incorporating AI into their operations. Still, more than one-third of underperformers have yet to graduate from the consideration phase. In fact, high-performing marketing teams are 2.5x more likely than underperformers to have fully integrated AI into their operations. Until underperformers pivot from passive planning to hands-on action, AI’s advantages will continue to elude them.

Marketers embrace AI to predict, create, and integrate at scale

Sixty-three percent of marketers leveraging AI say they use generative while just over half (54%) are using predictive. And despite its relative novelty, generative AI use cases already rank among marketers’ favourites alongside predictive applications. As a result, teams are harnessing both types of AI for critical use cases like automating customer interactions and generating content — activities that will augment creativity and accelerate productivity.

Despite AI enthusiasm, concerns about trusted data remain

Compared to their peers in other departments, marketers are especially concerned about falling behind on generative AI adoption. Eighty-eight percent of marketers worry about missing out on generative AI’s benefits, compared to 78% of sales and 73% of service colleagues.

Even so, senior marketers remain cautious, citing concerns such as data and job security. Compared to their peers further up the corporate ladder, on-the-ground team leads are particularly wary about job stability. One in four team leads are worried AI will replace their job, compared to one in five executives. For their part, CMOs are most concerned with data leaks, with 41% citing data exposure as their top concern compared to 29% of VPs and 32% of team leads.

While data leaks are marketers’ number one generative AI concern, not having enough of the right data falls at number two. To capture enough valuable information, marketers are primarily leveraging customer service data and transaction data, showing an effort to partner with colleagues across sales and commerce departments to accomplish this. However, unification of that and other data — such as unstructured data from emails, NFTs, and more — remains a challenge.

In fact, only 31% of marketers are fully satisfied with their ability to unify customer data sources. What’s more, only approximately half of marketers say their systems automatically and regularly update with data from other departments.

Without fully integrated data, marketers’ ability to derive sharp insights is blunted, leaving core activities like analysing performance, suppressing audiences, and building campaigns powered by out-of-date or incomplete information. It even jeopardises marketers’ top priority: effectively leveraging AI.

A closer look at the survey results shows that fully integrated data is more common among high-performing marketing teams, suggesting that investing in unification can give marketers an edge. As Kelman explains, “a strong data foundation will be critical to AI success for marketers as they work to bring together and unify customer data for real-time activation.”


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Ugo Onwuaso is an ICT enthusiast. He believes technology should be used for general good. He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Lagos state University. Dear Reader, Your support matters. But we believe that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. That is why, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and finance and how they affect lives. Our incisive and analytical view of how technology news affects the daily life help individuals and organizations make up their minds. Quality journalism costs money. Today, we're asking that you support us to do more. Kindly support our effort to deliver technology and finance journalism to everyone in the world. Donate as little as N1,000. Bank transfers can be made to: UBA Plc 1017156876 Communication Week Media Ltd

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Subscribers Decry Poor Service Delivery by Telcos, Accuse NCC of Playing the Ostrich

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Telecommunications subscribers have waxed angrily at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for pretending that everything was fine while subscribers grapple with unreliable internet and call services.

Subscribers Decry Poor Service Delivery by Telcos, Accuse NCC of Playing the Ostrich

They want the regulator could do more by compelling Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), also known as telcos, to improve their service.

Some of the major complaints are connection failures, poor data service, fluctuating network, data roll over challenges, illegal credit deductions and uncompleted calls.

Experts said that the drop in service quality has been attributed to the fact that three out of the four mobile network operators failed to meet the industry standards for network service.

In separate calls; Association of Telephone, CableTv, and Internet Subscribers of Nigeria (ATCIS-Nigeria) and National Association of Telecoms Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOM) urged the NCC to live up to its responsibility of protecting subscribers.

Sina Bilesanmi, president, ATCIS-Nigeria, accused the NCC of pretending that everything was fine while subscribers groaned.

He said that ATCIS-Nigeria members have not only complained about drop calls and inability to originate calls, but they are also unable to access their airtime balance after recharging.

Bilesanmi argued that now that service quality has nosedived, there was no ground for telcos to justify any demand for a tariff increase.

He said that “ I have been inundated with complaints about low service quality from my members.

“ It is worrisome and the NCC is pretending that all is well. This low service quality is coming at a time when the MNOs are asking for a hike in tariff and our members were beginning to show understanding because, quite frankly, the tariff has remained the same for over a decade.

“The operators should tell us if they have any challenges.”

Elsewhere, Deolu Ogunbanjo, national president, NATCOM, said the service rendered by the MNOs had become  ‘’so bad’ that subscribers now lament openly.

He added that the telcos, on their part,   complained about their constraints to expand capacity.”

He said: “It(service delivery) has been so bad. It was one of the issues raised last Thursday but the telcos complained about their constraint to expand capacity and the need to raise tariff.”

Ogunbanjo said he supported the demand for an increase in tariff because it was overdue.

He, however, said an increase must be marginal in order not to asphyxiate the industry.

 

 


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Meta Disagrees with $220m Fine, Sets for Appeal

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Meta, the parent company of WhatsApp and Facebook, is preparing to appeal a decision by Nigerian regulators to impose a $220 million fine against it for alleged market power abuse and privacy violations.

Meta Disagrees with $220m Fine, Sets for Appeal

The company said that “We disagree with this decision as well as the fine and we are appealing the decision,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said.

The spokesperson did not specify where and when the appeal will be lodged.

It will be recalled that the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) published the fine last week, capping a three-year investigation.

The inquiry focused on data sharing practices on WhatsApp, the most widely used messaging service in Nigeria.

The commission claimed it found evidence of “multiple and repeated, as well as continuing infringements” of the country’s data protection and competition laws and imposed the fine as a final resolution.

Meta was ordered to “immediately reinstate the rights of Nigerian users to self-determine and control” data sharing, and stop sharing WhatsApp users’ information “with other Facebook companies and third parties” without users’ active consent.

It was also required to pay $35,000 to cover the cost of the commission’s investigation, in addition to the $220 million penalty. Both amounts are to be paid within 60 days from July 18.

Nigeria began looking into WhatsApp, which has an estimated 51 million users in the country, in May 2021.

That was four months after the app updated its global privacy policy on messaging between individuals and businesses, and how users’ data may be shared with Facebook.

Meta began responding to concerns detailed in Nigeria’s report around March this year, pledging to cooperate towards “reaching an amicable resolution,” according to the commission.

A “remedy package” proposed by Meta and sent mid-April proved unsatisfactory to the commission, however, its report said.

It is not clear what this package is — an email for comment to the commission was not responded to. Nigeria still expects Meta to implement it and publish it on WhatsApp’s website within two weeks, in addition to the fines.

Beyond complying with its laws, Nigeria’s aim with the penalties is to get Meta to “cease the exploitation of consumers and their market abuse,” the commission said.

 

 


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WATRA Says Digital Economy Contributes $30Bn Annually to W/African GDP

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The West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (WATRA) has said that the digital economy currently contributes around $30 billion annually to the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

WATRA Says Digital Economy Contributes $30Bn Annually to W/African GDP

WATRA also called for lower cost of internet access to enhance the digital economy for the respective countries in the region.

Mr Aliyu Aboki, executive secretary, WATRA, who disclosed this during a virtual press conference at the weekend also said the West African telecommunications market is now valued at $63.17 billion with over 400 million mobile subscribers.

However, Aboki said WATRS is working on initiatives to facilitate infrastructure sharing among West African countries to lower the cost of internet for telecom subscribers across the region.

According to him, infrastructure such as gateways, and data centres are facilities that could be shared by countries in the region.

Admitting that the cost of internet across West African countries is still high, Aboki said a lower cost of internet access would enhance the digital economy for the respective countries in the region and increase the consumption of data by the citizens, which in turn generate more revenue for the telecom operators.

“We are exploring regional initiatives to share infrastructure and reduce cost. For example, we have infrastructures like gateways, data center servers, and so on. These are infrastructures that can be shared and used by different countries without necessarily having everyone building the same infrastructure.

“So, we are collectively looking at these rich regional initiatives that enable us to share infrastructure to bring down the cost of Internet ultimately,” the WATRA scribe said.

 

 


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