How will the advance of AI affect data-driven marketing?

Mike Popesku (Marketing, 2008) took his 'passion for unravelling the chaos and complexity of consumer behaviour' to its logical conclusion by establishing his own startup, Qudo, in 2020.

Here he shares his unique expertise and insights into the world of data-driven marketing and explains how the recent explosion in the evolution of AI will change the digital marketplace.

Image courtesy of vectorjuice/Freepik

My passion for unravelling the chaos and complexity of consumer behaviour has shaped my professional and academic journey.

Eager to deepen my knowledge in marketing science, I pursued both a master's and a PhD in Marketing under the supervision of Professors Caroline Tynan and Vicky Story. My PhD thesis centred on explaining, modelling, and quantifying value creation and the elusive phenomenon of value.

Upon completing my PhD, I recognised the growing significance of data science and decided to further enhance my skills by attending a nine-month bootcamp on the subject in London.

At Nottingham I identified the immense potential of implementing AI-powered questionnaire design and pitched my idea to Ingenuity Lab's incubator for new business start-ups, but the timing was not yet right for my vision.

After acquiring experience in various roles in academia and the research industry, I revisited my original business idea and co-founded Questionardo (Qudo), a London-based AI startup devoted to revolutionising research and data-driven marketing.

What issue does Qudo attempt to solve?

Qudo utilises consumer research to help companies identify distinct consumer segments – groups of customers with shared behaviours, preferences, and interests, simplifying the complex market landscape.

While segmentation studies are a standard service offered by market research consultancies, the real challenge arises when companies and marketers need to engage with the identified segments. 

Qudo presents segmentation reports through user-friendly dashboards, enabling users to export their chosen segments to their social media channels effortlessly. In other words, the audiences identified and selected in the report are directly transferred to a social media channel, pre-formatted for your convenience.

This eliminates guesswork when finding audiences, ensuring an informed and precise approach. As a result, the transition from learning about the market to engaging with it occurs seamlessly and without any loss of information.

What do the advancements in AI over the last six months mean for the data industry?

The emergence of large language models, such as ChatGPT and Bard, has brought us to a pivotal milestone in AI development. We've reached a point where it's now challenging or even impossible to discern whether we're communicating with a human or a machine – or what Alan Turing referred to as singularity. ChatGPT signifies the dawn of a new era, marking a significant leap forward in generative AI capabilities.

These advancements, particularly over the last six months, have substantially impacted the marketing industry. With the rise of large language models and increased data processing accuracy, we can better understand consumer preferences and predict their behaviours.

This enables us to achieve more and do so at a faster pace. For the wider industry, this implies that traditional norms will be disrupted. ChatGPT can now design questionnaires, analyse qualitative data in seconds, assist with ideation and desk research, and even function as a teacher. Consequently, numerous sectors, including academia, will face challenges.

The development of innovative features such as chat-to-data and chat-to-segments can further streamline the marketing process, making it more accessible and powerful for businesses of all sizes. This allows for more personalised and effective marketing strategies, enabling businesses to reach their target audiences more efficiently.

Nevertheless, it's important to acknowledge that while the content generated by ChatGPT is competent, it may lack true ingenuity or groundbreaking thought. This is no surprise, given that ChatGPT is trained on a vast ocean of publicly available content, much of which is mediocre. As a result, one impact of ChatGPT may be a decrease in the cost of intellectual labour, providing white-collar workers the ability to achieve more in less time.

Another consequence we can expect is a surge in content, making an already cluttered internet even more chaotic. In such an environment, consumers will seek connection and originality, while marketers will face intense competition for attention. With technology, particularly AI, undergoing exponential growth, fascinating times lie ahead as we continue to adapt to and embrace the opportunities presented by these advancements.

How did your time at Nottingham benefit your develop insight in this area?

While studying at the University of Nottingham, I was introduced to an evidence-based approach to marketing. This involved drawing on scientific literature and considering the complexity of consumer behaviour through models that could be verified using empirical evidence.

Under the guidance of my supervisors I developed into an independent thinker, prepared to embrace the unpredictability of consumers and adept at identifying patterns.

Furthermore, I gained valuable insights by teaching applied research alongside Professor Heidi Winklhofer, another brilliant mind at the Nottingham University Business School. This experience broadened my understanding of marketing and equipped me with the skills necessary to thrive in the ever-evolving world of consumer research.

I invite fellow alumni and students to get in touch if they would like to collaborate, exchange ideas, or seek guidance on their entrepreneurial journey. Together, we can drive innovation and make a meaningful impact on the marketing world and beyond!