Think technology can never do what you do? I ask you to consider the 19th-century textile worker. You have something in common—overconfidence and a false sense of security.

Artificial Intelligence is taking over the world, and it’s taking some jobs with it—including a myriad of marketing roles. Economist W. Brian Arthur estimates that developing technology will replace 100 million jobs by 2025. With the civilian workforce currently at 158 million, we’re talking about a significant number of people being replaced by robots and similar digital solutions.

In marketing specifically, David Raab calculates that by 2025, roughly 50% of marketing jobs will be replaced by AI. As CMO, I’ve caught glimpses of this trend happening already. 

how-machine-intelligence-will-really-change-marketing-or-how-to-market-with-smart-machines-without-ensuring-the-destruction-of-… 2016-05-07 17-36-45

Honey, I shrunk my marketing staff—not.

These predictions could all be very concerning if you’re a marketer, but as always, there are ways to look at things optimistically—as opportunities:

  • For every three jobs destroyed, at least one new position will be created.
  • Those who survive the change will make a lot more money.

Let me explain.

The internet is literally destroying positions one industry at a time. Do law offices need an army of staff to shift through old court cases looking for a precedent, an article, or a long-buried loophole? No, and those jobs are already gone. But as technology has replaced the need for thousands of junior paralegals, a new need has emerged: It still takes people to obtain and read through piles of case-related digital records.

The same technology that destroys jobs also creates new ones, and that’s true in every profession. Online learning has replaced a few teachers, but has created a whole new need for instructional designers and online facilitators. The internet may have destroyed the print magazine industry, but online magazines are thriving. In marketing, the position of marketing automation expert did not exist ten years ago.

How are marketers spending time on task and how AI will perform those tasks

Here’s what’s most interesting though: Between the destruction of a job and the creation of a new one, there is a time gap. So, though you may see your marketing department currently shrinking, in the second half of this disruption cycle, it may grow again.

Winners and losers

If are a customer support rep, expect your job to be replaced by a bot within the next few years. Yes, the implications for many people are harsh: Computer software is far more effective than you could ever be, and it costs a whole lot less than you do. The bright side? As bots take over the world, someone will need to manage them. People who can earn these positions will fulfill the equivalent of a very senior customer support position, and will be rewarded accordingly.

Marketing jobs disrupted by AI

What positions stand to benefit most?

Predicting specifics in the future is a fool’s errand. Will the job of the Chief MarTech officer be easier, or will it take a far more complex set of skills? It’s hard to tell, because technological breakthroughs occur at the speed of light and nobody outside the deepest inner circles knows what the next wave of apps and media will bring, but some senior MarTech positions are definitely going to be harder to fill.

predicted marketing salary change caused by AI disruption

Who will benefit the most will be in general, a function of the available skill set in the marketplace, the rate of job growth, and the time and effort it takes to acquire and master new skills. It won’t be too hard for most social media experts to pick up and manage social media bots, so while senior social media management positions may become more abundant, supply will outpace demand and the salaries will not grow much.

Creative skills, on the other hand, will be rewarded well if coupled with the ability to handle complex computing systems. 

potential marketing salary change caused by AI disruption

If you are a junior marketer considering your future career, steer away from advertising and focus on combining creative skills with computer literacy.

  • dimitricks

    Great read, Daniel ! Is the data in the expected and potential salary changes coming from some research, or are these your own personal projections ?

    • Hi Dimitri,
      I ran some calculations based on data I collected. The accuracy and methodology are questionable (full discloser) and would probably not make an academic journal. However, I think they tell a story and show a trend. The general figures also match intuition. Take Analytics for example: Analytics are really being disrupted by AI (look at how Watson can answer simple questions about your twitter account), so junior analytics positions will be negatively effected and, as supply outpaces demand, the average salary for those positions will decrease. Senior analytics position, on the other hand, will be positively affected creating demand for savvy marketers with management skills and deep understanding of not just how the data is collected, but what those numbers truly mean in the real world.