New Invoca AI Benchmark Report Finds Marketers Are Bullish on AI But Overconfident in Their Skills

New Invoca report sheds light on the state of AI in marketing, which finds 93% of marketers report expert or advanced-level AI knowledge.

Invoca, the leader in Conversation Intelligence AI, today released its 2023 State of AI in Digital Marketing Report, which exposes marketers’ optimism and apprehension about AI marketing technology in 2024.

Invoca’s report reveals a staggering 90% of marketers say they will increase their AI investment next year, making 2024 a defining year for marketing AI technology. This rush to be at the forefront may be driving some unfounded confidence in their AI skills as nearly all (93%) claim expert or advanced knowledge of marketing AI tech, while simultaneously indicating that a lack of AI knowledge is one of the top barriers to adoption.

Despite the mixed messages, overall, the report shows marketers are ready to embrace AI and fear the high cost of being late to adopt new AI technology.

Marketers will increase adoption of AI to drive efficiency

The macroeconomic conditions of the last year have pushed smart, efficient spending to the forefront of organizational leaders’ and investors’ minds. While 90% of marketers increasing investment in AI next year may not seem like a model of thriftiness, an even greater number (95%) say that AI will help them spend their budgets more efficiently.

Most of the top reasons cited to increase AI investment are also directly tied to increasing revenue: accelerating customer acquisition, increasing ROAS (return on ad spend), improving customer retention, and driving productivity gains. Not only is investment increasing, AI is becoming its own budget line item, with 86% of respondents saying they will have dedicated AI martech budgets in 2024.

“For the past 15 years, marketers have made massive investments in new technology. But while adoption of new technologies such as marketing automation or ABM platforms occurred over multiple years, adoption of AI is happening in months,” said Peter Isaacson, CMO at Invoca. “AI presents a massive opportunity for marketers, in part because it can touch so many aspects of marketing- from budgets, to planning, to execution across multiple programs, so the optimism we’re seeing in this report is no surprise. But marketers need to make sure they have the know-how to act quickly and adopt AI technology that has the clearest, biggest business impacts or risk being left behind.”

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Marketers are confident (perhaps too confident) in their AI skills

Almost all marketers surveyed (93%) say they have expert or advanced-level knowledge of AI, making it clear that they are very confident in their AI skills. They also feel similarly about their companies, as 87% say that their organizations are more advanced AI users than the competition. While it’s great to see this level of confidence among marketers, some of the optimism is likely unfounded as everyone cannot be an expert and a leader.

Among those who report expert-level familiarity with AI, it’s led by executives (60%), followed by directors (45%) and then managers (32%). This directly conflicts with who actually owns AI adoption at these organizations. Only 18% say that executives own AI adoption, while 34% say it is owned by marketing operations and 29% put AI in the lap of departmental managers. With operations and managers leading AI adoption, it is likely that these “in the trenches” teams have a higher level of AI expertise compared to those who have less direct involvement.

Among the optimism, concerns of negative AI impacts remain

AI’s meteoric growth has been one of the biggest stories in marketing this year. But where do marketers lie on the spectrum of AI panic and elation? The gap between those who believe AI will create more jobs than it replaces (50%) and those who believe the opposite (41%) is narrow. The coming year will be crucial in determining how this sentiment—and the reality—may shift as AI increases its footprint in marketing departments.

Marketers also realize that the cost of ignoring AI is high both for their organizations and their careers. Over 90% of marketers say experience using AI will be more important when making hiring decisions in 2024, with only 8% saying it will have no significant impact on their future career prospects. In fact, this rings true all the way to the chief marketing role, with a recent report, “Predictions 2024: B2C Marketing” from Forrester finding that “experience with generative AI” is written into 20% of new CMO job descriptions. The biggest danger of marketing AI may prove to be the status quo.

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