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AI Intel: Data, Data, Everywhere

“I don’t care if your technology runs on hamster wheels…” came the response to my beautifully crafted and artfully presented 45-minute education series around the complexities of AI algorithms and their importance in the modern day marketing ecosystem. “…What does it do?”

This question, received years ago, has stuck with me ever since. 

It’s a fundamental modern marketing lesson: people don’t care about all the industry-leading advancements that led to the proprietary, best-in-class 1/4” drill bit. They need to make a hole.

From Big Drills to Big Data

The marketing world has seen an explosion in the number of platforms and the sheer amount of data we can use to understand and reach would-be customers.

The practice of gathering and warehousing data was broadly called “Big Data.” However, as companies quietly drown their aspirations in unwieldy data vaults, disparate data sources, and conflicting analyses, the death knell rings: consumer privacy laws and tracking opt-outs make adding to Big Data repositories harder; absent rich first-party data, these repositories will quickly become outdated.

Flying Blind

The marketing world, without fully recognizing it, is running blind. This is a problem.

It isn’t just a problem for marketers looking to track and maximize their advertising spend. It’s foundational and impacts how businesses run. Understanding your customer and meeting their needs where they are is the lifeblood of any business. 

With 96% of US iPhone users opting out of ad targeting and 40% using ad blockers, with GDRP, CCPA, and third-party tracking disappearing, marketers might also lose the ability to take the consumer pulse on a macro level.

Sure, we can do market research, but the feedback loop that has allowed markets — and marketers — to react to consumers in near-real time breaks as individual online privacy takes precedence.

Where’s the Data?

We need data. Real-time data, delivered in digestible and impactful ways. As marketers, adding to our proprietary Big Data silos is a much less viable option than it was even this time last year. Still, collecting data isn’t the biggest challenge facing marketers. Pulling meaningful, actionable insights from our proprietary data and industry data at large is the challenge. It’s also an opportunity.

As much as 90% of data is unstructured, which means as little as 10% of data is structured. Structured data is quantifiable, easy to understand and act on but unstructured data is where the real competitive advantage lies. 

But by its nature, unstructured data is… unstructured. Smart humans can draw insights and inferences from unstructured data but only the latest advancements in learning AI can do so quickly, continuously and at scale.

AI is “Just Math”

AI is thrown around as the magic fix-all to so many problems, yet after a few years, the magic solves don’t seem to be panning out quite as promised.

That’s because AI isn’t magic. AI boils down to one thing: Math. Self learning, self-correcting, interesting if you’re into that sort of thing, but just math. AI is just a system of interacting mathematical algorithms that can be trained to do a task, and to do it really well.

So how does AI impact marketing and marketers? With the right direction, AI can sift through vast amounts of both structured and, importantly, unstructured data across disparate data sets to surface actionable insights.

AI takes on the otherwise insurmountable task of mining zettabytes of data. Like humans, it learns along the way but as a machine, it also scales… and of course, it never gets bored with the task at hand.

So that’s what AI does and that’s what we’re doing at BENlabs: taking data and using AI to draw insights and using those insights to help brands and marketers reach and speak to audiences, supporting artists and creators in the process. We mine our own data, gathered across thousands of successful campaigns, and data from a wide array of external sources too. We’re putting AI to work with the right inputs and steering from humans to create collaborative AI that augments human ability. AI that helps marketers to draw actionable insights from an otherwise overwhelming data set, and helping them use those insights to connect with audiences. 

No magic, and definitely no hamster wheels, involved.

What’s Next?

We’re here to share our (very human) insights from the AI frontlines.

This is the first installment of AI Intel, the monthly BENlabs AI column. Each month, we’ll share context and opinion on AI news, new developments and other AI topics, all focused through a marketing lens.

Check in on the last Thursday of each month or better yet, subscribe to The Lab, the BENlabs newsletter, to get AI and other insights across content influencer, product placement and music marketing, delivered to your inbox.

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