Back to all articles

Embracing the human touch in the age of AI

Claire Shalbrack
Claire Shalbrack
Managing Director and Partner
6 min read
24 May 2023

We’re all connected by a desire to innovate and break new ground, to live on the edge of emerging technology and make our mark on new media platforms. 

That was the basis for our Prepare to Pioneer event on May 2, where we welcomed experts from some of the world’s most impressive brands to talk all things AI, TikTok, and the next wave of marketing innovation. 

Stream the full program yourself to hear the panel of digital leaders speak on the future of digital experiences. Or read on for our top three takeaways from our Unlocking Growth discussion, featuring Jotham Ndugga-Kabuye, Senior Director, Head of Global Social Media at Twitch and Maggie Lower, former CMO at Hootsuite.

Be an informed imposter

AI, machine learning, and, of course, ChatGPT: For marketers these technologies are more prevalent than ever and brands quickly need to make a decision.

Will they embrace or resist the emerging tech in creating their own digital experiences? 

“I would say this even if it weren’t AI or automation,” Lower said, “As marketers, whenever there is an emergent trend, spend some time understanding it. I don’t think you can resist it unless you actually know what you’re resisting. I like to be an informed imposter.”

Leaning into ChatGPT specifically, Lower emphasized the importance of being familiar with the tool, regardless of whether you plan to integrate it into your marketing operations. Not only is it increasingly critical to know how to use it and the applications in which it could be most beneficial, but the more you understand ChatGPT, the better you can spot its limitations — and speak to the value of human-driven creativity. 

“The more you play around with ChatGPT, the more you’re going to be able to find these cues that signal to you it’s not a human speaking,” Lower said. “Once you start to figure that out, then it’s going to inform your own personal value proposition.”

It’s far better for a brand to be the best on a platform than the first to use it.

Jotham Ndugga-Kabuye, Head of Global Social Media at Twitch

You can’t duplicate the sauce

As a leader in social media and an expert developing campaigns that elicit emotions and spark human connections, Ndugga-Kabuye knows what it takes to make an impact through digital channels. And it all boils down to the sauce … but what is the sauce, exactly? That’s his way of thinking about the perspectives, creativity, and innovation that only come from brands who value the ideas and experiences of real people.

“I can give you the recipe all you want, but at the end of the day, I know how to put it together and I know how it’s supposed to feel,” Ndugga-Kabuye said. “AI is not going to be able to tell you that. AI isn’t going to be able to tell you why somebody feels the way they do — that’s what humans are for.”

To Ndugga-Kabuye, the difference between brands that succeed and those that don’t in this emerging AI environment will be rooted in their ability to form person-to-person connections via digital marketing. And in a world where people give approximately 2.5 seconds of attention to an ad, Lower agreed it’s going to take more than an algorithm to generate content that makes an impact in such a short timespan. 

“I think about how you would build an algorithm for AI — it’s going to be informed by solving for a discrete problem set, versus a human that’s informed by all the different experiences that make up the tapestry of your life,” Lower said. “My best advice is to go out into the world and have as many interesting and unique experiences with the world and humanity as you can and you’re always going to beat the algorithm and have a more interesting take.”

New tech is a temptress

Rapid advancements in technology mean brands are constantly faced with new software, platforms, apps, and more.

The opportunities to innovate and connect with audiences in new, impactful ways are seemingly endless — and definitely tempting. But in their discussion, Ndugga-Kabuye and Lower drove one point home: It’s far better for a brand to be the best on a platform than the first to use it. 

From TikTok to BeReal and all the apps in between (and those still to come), the panelists unscored the importance of taking the time to learn and actively engage with new technologies to discern whether they’re right for your brand before diving in. Brands that prioritize being early adopters of new media platforms over anything else risk turning off their audiences, putting out inauthentic content, and deteriorating their image over time. 

“I think this is where people make these seductive trade-offs between measurable short-term marketing and things that can build brands over time, and we’re seeing companies really be hurt over that,” Lower said. 

While our discussion with Lower and Ndugga-Kabuye left us with dozens of incredible thought starters, one message for brands shone clearest: Slow down and stay human. 

To hear the full conversation and more from all of our speakers, stream Prepare to Pioneer: AI, TikTok, and the next wave of marketing innovation, and look out for more DEPT® events around the world. 

As our team grows across the U.S. and around the world, we’re on a mission to lead brands into the future and showcase what’s possible when you bring together, question, and collaborate with the greatest minds in marketing and technology.