The following scenarios may be familiar to you:


You’ve been shopping online for a large-ticket item.  You’ve finally arrived at a decision and made a purchase.  You continue to receive pop-up ads for comparable items despite the fact that you are now in no way interested in buying them.  These fruitless advertising efforts are both a nuisance and an ineffective use of marketing resources.


In another scenario, you are concerned about the safety of a close relative who may be traveling on a flight that is reportedly in peril.  You phone the airline for information about your loved one, only to connect to an automated system that cannot possibly empathize with your distress.  Business as usual, at such times, comes across as callous.


These experiences, according to Samantha Stone, author of Unleash Possible: A Marketing Playbook that Drives Sales, illustrate the important role that humans play in technology-driven marketing.  Stone spoke on this subject last week as part of the Richmond Chapter of the American Marketing Association’s June Signature Speaker Series.  In her talk, “Authenticity in the Age of Artificial Intelligence,” she explained why people actually become more relevant in marketing as they increasingly adopt tools such as big data analytics, Artificial Intelligence, and machine learning.


Stone, who founded the Marketing Advisory Network, offered advice and reassurance to an audience of marketing professionals at the University of Richmond’s Jepson Alumni Center.  Embrace the emerging tools of the trade, she counseled, and embrace the sensitivity and sensibilities that only humans can offer.