The marketer’s role in the new era of machine learning (according to Google)

Becky Doles

Man pointing at laptop computers

Machine learning and artificial intelligence are the new buzzwords of mobile marketing. In fact, a widely followed technologist, Kai-Fu Lee, raised some eyebrows when he claimed that more than half of all jobs will be replaced by artificial intelligence in the next decade. I don’t know about you, but that’s not exactly something I find comforting while sipping my morning coffee, preparing for a full day at the office. Before you ditch your cup of jo and starting looking up a new career, (and maybe future altogether) read below to hear what Sissie Hsiao, Global Head of Mobile App Ads for Google, had to say about it. She joined us on the mainstage at Postback ‘17 to talk the future of mobile, machine learning, and how marketers will fit in.

P.S. Rather watch the video? You can jump straight to it here.

First, take a deep breath: Machine learning isn’t anything new

Hsiao explained, “What my boss’s boss says is: machine learning — we were using it before it was cool. Unbeknownst to many people, many pieces of ads at Google (core search ads, quality systems) have been using machine learning for a long time.”

Hsiao noted TensorFlow, Google’s cloud offering that allows any developer to use the best of Google’s machine learning. She said they initially created the technology for themselves, but have since made it available to the world to derive whatever value they want from it.

So, if machine learning isn’t anything new for developers … how exactly does a marketer use it?

Machine learning is here to help

“There’s just mountains of data. There’s mountains of data coming from your app. Mountains of data coming from your website. Mountains of data coming from multiple devices of which you can’t stick the identity together. And you’re trying to figure out: how do I actually deliver value when there’s so much signal? And that’s what machine learning is good at. Machine learning is good at getting a bunch of data and predicting and delivering the results you want,” Hsiao said.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard a lot of marketers describe those mountains of data she speaks of. But if machine learning is so great, why exactly won’t it replace marketers?

Marketers and machine learning are made for each other

“It’s not like there’s a pile of data and you just throw it a machine learning algorithm and then it works. In reality, you can think of it as a technology that works for you, and you need to learn how to use it effectively. That is everything from collection of great data from companies like TUNE and our AAP partners. Collecting great data. Making sure you’re modeling your KPIs and your LTV correctly,” Hsiao said.

She described the Not Hotdog app, a humorous example that tells people whether the picture they upload is of a hot dog (or not). If you teach the machine incorrectly, it might incorrectly assume hot dogs always look exactly one way. You have to teach the machine the shapes, colors, textures, and so on — so it can differentiate between a hot dog, and something just shaped like a hot dog. That part, Hsiao said, is up to the marketer.

“I think machine learning is a technique to help digital marketers offload some of that manual burden, and to help elevate their work to more strategic things they should be doing. Like, how do I add value to my marketing? How do I work on my creative to really attract the best users?
… The machine does not know what pictures or text or videos or screenshots to show your customers. Only you do. Eventually I think marketers will very quickly learn how to be symbiotically using this technology for their benefit.”

Now that sounds like a future we really can all have our place in. To hear more on what Hsiao thinks about the future of mobile, watch the 15-minute video on YouTube, or press play below.

Becky Doles

Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.

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