It’s been a banner year for digital ad spending (pardon the pun). While traditional ad spending has fallen, digital spending is up 6% year over year for 2020. With all that spending, businesses naturally expect to see results, whether that comes from ROI, increased conversions or a more robust lifetime customer value.

But even as marketers are embracing digital, the landscape is changing. New technologies are evolving and stepping up to replace familiar ones. One example is artificial intelligence (AI) and its applications for digital marketing. AI is a mature technology, even if it’s not widely adopted as yet. “Many of our clients are sophisticated in their understanding of AI in general and its role in marketing, but they haven’t tried it much,” says Nitin Gupta, director of product management for innovation and Target product for [24] “But with the upheaval we’re seeing in the space, especially in terms of cookies going away, it’s important for marketers to carve out a budget for AI — even if they start small at first and scale later.”

Who Needs Cookies?

The big tech companies dropped a bombshell at the beginning of 2020: a planned two-year phaseout of cookies within their web browsers. The sunsetting of cookies technology might have some marketers panicked. After all, how will companies deliver personalized messages without cookies?

But this isn’t an issue for [24] “Perhaps fortunate for us, our technology has been moving forward with personalization without cookies,” Gupta says. “Our marketing strategies are focused less on cookies and more on other parameters available to us. By delivering a contextualized ad that relies on time, place or relevance, we can deliver a personalized message without using cookies.”

Such contextualization can also help marketers stay compliant with privacy laws. With GDPR, CCPA and other laws limiting the specific data businesses gather from customers, contextualization offers a way to personalize without the need for personal information.

“Think about what AI can do for your messaging in terms of contextualization,” says Gupta. “Let’s take two simple scenarios: time of day and weather. The AI can show your potential customers one message if it’s a weekend, a different message on weeknights and another message altogether if the weather is cold. Customers have different behaviors based on these variables and by recognizing and responding to where customers are both literally and figuratively, you’ll be well positioned to reach customers with the right message.”

Tailor the Messages

Contextualization may mean a bit more work for marketers up front at first. But the granular results that can be achieved with this type of personalization may lead to greater sales and business impact. “Traditionally, A/B testing was one way to discover which messages were reaching people,” notes Gupta, “but our platform goes beyond A/B testing.”

Gupta continues. “We don’t simply say that Option 1 is better than Option 2. Instead, we can identify whether or not Message A works for Persona B at given time C. If it is, the platform will repeat that but if not the AI can learn and try a different message for that persona at that given time. Our platform is all about finding the right time and context to show the right message.”

Learning Opportunities

Chatbots: More Than Just Talking Heads

The internet is becoming more of a place where people have conversations, talking with people instead of at them. In 2019, 33% of American adults used chat to interact with a business. When asked about chatbots and why they use them, 34% said chatbots were good for answering questions, 29% said they were good for getting detailed answers, while 27% used chatbots for customer service.

In this environment, there’s enormous potential to incorporate chatbots into conversational ads. “This is a new area we’re exploring,” says Gupta. “By having our conversational ads include a chatbot, customers can get information that’s relevant to them quickly.” Speed is an important advantage to conversational advertising. When interacting with chatbots, customers value getting detailed answers to their questions quickly.


The next few years will bring big changes to marketing. Technology that marketers has relied on is going away and marketers need new solutions to reach today’s discerning customers.

“If you’re already having one-to-one conversations with your customers, that’s great,” says Gupta. “If not, ask yourself, what do I need from my marketing campaigns and how can those campaigns be more effective in moving the metrics we’re trying to improve?” For businesses looking to improve marketing ROI, lifetime customer value or incremental conversations, a marketing solution that incorporates artificial intelligence can help your business achieve its goals.

See how [24] can deliver amazing personalized experiences for your business at