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Marketing and sales departments prioritize AI and machine learning above any other area in the enterprise today. Forbes pegs the percentage at 40%, and it’s no wonder — AI embedded in software is anticipated to free up more than a third of data analytics in marketing organizations by 2022, enabling workers to focus time on business priorities instead of personalization, lead scoring, anomaly detection, marketing performance management, reporting, and other manual processes.

IBM hopes to ride the adoption wave with an offering powered by its Watson platform. IBM Advertising Accelerator, which launched today at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show, leverages AI to predict the element combinations that drive the highest audience engagement and conversion. Watson automatically creates campaigns for customer segments using predictive models, with an eye to helping advertisers better understand individual buyers’ preferences.

Advertising Accelerator tries to suss out the optimal mix of creative marketing content while at the same time discovering new audiences based on message resonance. It analyzes each campaign from a creative and audience standpoint, surfacing insights on the highest- and lowest-performing experiences. And it continuously learns from past projects and deployments to improve its future recommendations.

“Ad targeting enables marketers to identify core customers, who are often over-served with messages that don’t drive immediate action,” said IBM Watson Advertising revenue head Jeremy Hlavacek in a statement. “Advertising Accelerator with Watson addresses this challenge head-on, arming clients with IBM Watson to help them better engage and understand their target audience.”


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Advertising Accelerator is the newest addition to IBM’s extensive Watson Advertising suite, which was formerly the Weather Company’s advertising sales division. (IBM bought the Weather Company’s digital assets in 2016 in a deal valued at around $2 billion.) Last June, IBM unveiled a self-service ad builder that let marketers tap AI for conversational experiences, and October 2018 saw the launch of three new marketing solutions under the Watson umbrella: Watson Ads Omni, Media Optimizer, and Predictive Audiences.

Watson Ads Omni is an AI-powered interactive ad unit that delivers “hyper-personalization” paired with actionable insights, while Media aims to connect pre- and post-customer journeys across paid, owned, and earned channels. As for Predictive Audiences, it enables businesses to layer data signals (including weather, location, and first-party customer relationship management points of interest) to identify individuals most likely to make a purchase.

These tools are geared at the market’s demands, to be sure. Respondents to Salesforce’s 2018 State of the Sales report said they expect AI to become pervasive in sales and marketing. And roughly 65% of them said AI-powered insights into business developments, emails, and calendar data would “make them more effective in their job.”

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