"This wasn't created by a human": marketing leader calls for AI ethics

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There are a number of ethical complexities with AI-powered marketing campaigns, and marketing professionals need to take the lead on trust and transparency

The Chief Marketing Officer at financial services organisation Link Group, Wendy Mak, is urging the marketing industry to better balance AI-driven productivity gains with the duty to craft honest campaigns.

Speaking exclusively to The Business Of, a podcast from UNSW Business School, Ms Mak says there is a place for artificial intelligence in modern marketing and pointed to the massive leaps in efficiency that platforms like ChatGPT can provide. But she adds: “They need guardrails.”

“How do you let your people use large language models in their jobs to increase productivity but not compromise the security of your business or the security of your consumers? Because to use these apps, you have to give it a certain amount of information. It’s an exchange model. So I’m giving the app something, it’s giving me something back greater, bigger, shinier, brighter,” she told The Business Of.

Chief Marketing Officer at financial services organisation Link Group, Wendy Mak.jpg
Chief Marketing Officer at Link Group, Wendy Mak, says the future is bright for young marketers who can become experts on the pros and cons of technology such as AI. Photo: supplied

As people become accustomed to interacting with AI platforms, customers are less likely to baulk at the idea of being marketed to this way – as long as you’re being transparent. “I firmly believe that if you are using generative AI or large language models to create content or campaigns, that the byline should definitely 100 per cent be this was not created by a human,” Ms Mak said.

“If I’m not actually learning, reading and consuming content that’s been created by the person that I’ve signed up to learn from, I think it should be obvious. And we should be saying this wasn’t created by a human. It allows people to make their own decisions about the information that they’re consuming. So, understanding that maybe a marketing campaign that was created by a machine allows me to exercise increased judgement and increased questioning as to how much of this am I going to take on board. Am I going to take it with a grain of salt?”

Ms Mak told host Dr Juliet Bourke, a Professor of Practice in the School of Management and Governance at UNSW Business School, that marketers often find themselves having to manage business expectations as the drivers of growth and revenue with customer expectations and building trust, saying “the grey area comes from commercial expectations versus do no harm.”

Rather than turning away from using AI altogether because of the potential risks involved, Ms Mak told The Business Of the future is bright for young marketers who can become experts on the pros and cons of new technology.

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“I think the opportunity is there for us to get super-efficient in how we create campaigns using all of this technology. The question for me becomes, what role do we as humans play in that? And how does that change the skill set of the team that you’re looking to bring in? A lot of roles in marketing and communications, especially, may potentially be superseded by a large language model. The skillset that you bring in might be just one of governance and correction, which might be very different to your team, and what that looks like today. So as leaders, I think what’s coming next, you’ve got to really think about what your team looks like in the future for 10 to 15 years from now.”

Dr Bourke added: “It was enlightening to hear what future marketing departments will need to incorporate to effectively manage AI tools in a business. The ethical complexities are only growing for marketers, and Ms Mak has plenty of insights to offer in this area.”


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