Creating marketing content can be quite demanding, in particular in the days of content marketing. But there are now AI-based marketing tools that can come to help. In this blog post, I interview Brennan White, the co-founder and CEO of Cortex.
He founded Cortex while at his last startup, Pandemic Labs (a multi-year Inc 5000 marketing agency) to solve the challenges he was seeing in marketing for global brands. Now, over to the interview!
What is Your Company’s Background?
Cortex was founded to bring machine learning into marketing via improving the creation and deployment of content.
Brennan’s focus at his last company was to hire the team and demo the software solutions for his agency’s marketers to ensure they were on the cutting edge and could continue to win awards and break records for their clients.
He noticed a mounting problem being brought up by his team – the ability to plan, produce, and distribute creative at scale. Moreover, none of the vendors seemed to be focusing on solving that problem.
The best solutions available were only treating symptoms and focusing on shaving seconds of time off his team’s workload. He wanted something that used machine learning to completely change the way creative decisions were made.
That technology was not being made at other companies, so Brennan and the original team founded Cortex to build that future.
Due to the previous experience in marketing entrepreneurship, Cortex had some early customer use and feedback and was able to quickly iterate while building a complex product.
What Problem Does Your Product Solve?
Cortex enables companies to create marketing content at any scale to meet any size demand – with the maximum precision possible based on all available data.
What Does Your Product do, and why is it Important to Your Customers?
Cortex enables companies to maximize ROI from their content marketing efforts with an easy-to-use SaaS platform powered by Machine Learning.
Cortex achieves this via two simultaneous, automated approaches: saving time via AI-driven automation and maximizing ROI by AI-driven planning.
Both of these are achieved by using machine learning to find patterns in our database of over 33,000 brands and over 1 billion pieces of marketing content.
Cortex is unique in the industry – For each customer, Cortex builds custom content calendars and content briefs for the coming months’ of content – then automatically populates that content for human approval and scheduling.
Due to the time saved and AI-powered planning, the average customer sees a several hundred percent increase in their marketing KPIs in the first six months of using Cortex.
How Does Your Product use AI?
Cortex has four major technological steps:
- Data Gathering
- Data Enrichment
In steps 2, 3, and 4, Cortex uses different AI technologies to create the first robot marketing associate, or as we prefer to talk about it – Cortex is the self-driving car of marketing.
The Data Gathering step does not include AI or machine learning. Here we are ingesting, organizing and storing billions of pieces of marketing content from over 33,000 different brands, companies, and products.
Along with the marketing content (video, images, text, etc) we’re storing both marketing performance data and meta-data (like timing and audience data)
In the Data Enrichment step, Cortex is using machine learning models to enrich the data from the first step to include data that isn’t publicly available. This data is critical to the modeling/prediction stage later as this AI-generated data provides the most valuable signal for prediction.
In the Modeling/Prediction stage, Cortex uses several proprietary AI models to determine what features of a piece of marketing creative have the largest impact on their success for a specific brand against specific goals.
In the Automation/Delivery stage, Cortex uses AI to generate the marketing content calendar over the coming months and prompts the human marketer for feedback/approval.
Based on several different applications of AI over the four stages, Cortex is able to take a huge database of marketing content and turn it into a completely automated content marketing effort for a brand, product, agency, or publisher.
In Your Mind, What is the Future of AI in Business and Marketing?
AI has to solve problems for it to take a significant market share of existing markets. It’s not enough to “provide insight” or “analytics” and leave the marketers to figure out how to execute. The self-driving car should be the model. The AI should intake, understand, and execute all in one seamless process.
With AI, the work can be completely automated. A human marketer then becomes the editor-in-chief of the content marketing effort that is created by the AI. They can be as hands on (or hands off) as desired.
Beyond making the final call and holding the keys to “approvals”, the human also has a critical role incorporating hidden data from internal meetings that the AI has no access to.
For example, if your executive team is launching a new product, the right call for the business might be to deviate from what is currently working best in the industry and start an entirely new conversation that the AI would have had no reason to suggest for that marketing team.
The human role in marketing (and business in general) is going to quickly become more strategic and less tactical and execution-based as AIs automate the rest.
For marketing in particular, AI will have an immense impact and things marketers only dreamed about before will become possible (the individual-based, completely scalable marketing in Minority Report is possible with Cortex, for example).
The ability to create bespoke content for each individual prospective customer and to target that content is now here. Ultimately, the experience of marketing for marketers will become much more effective and businesses will see a significant increase in marketing ROI.
For consumers, marketing will become more like a recommendation from a trusted friend, rather than a blatant and unwarranted interruption of their day-to-day.
Do You Think Marketers Will be Replaced by AI Robots?
Specific marketing jobs are already being replaced by AI. But marketing as a profession will only become more valuable as the ROI of marketing increases. Marketing jobs will become more numerous as the executives see a clearer and more significant ROI on marketing.
Google is actually the best example of what happens when a business becomes massively profitable. Google’s core business (advertising) is so successful that it’s able to fund thousands of employees and many other entire business units.
As AI infuses into marketing and companies see a clearer and larger profit from dollars invested in that business unit, they will invest in marketing more heavily.
Do You Have Any Other Thoughts on AI in Business and Marketing?
AI in general will completely change the way humans view work and will lead to a net creation of jobs via the destruction of specific types of jobs that already exist.
The industrial revolution is a perfect analogy for the AI revolution. In 1850, farmers were 64% of the US Labor force (1850). In 1990 farmers were only 2.6% of the labor force but the US was producing enough food to feed our entire country and export to many other countries. This is an even more impressive stat when you consider that the US population added over 200 million more mouths to feed in that time period.
The technological impact on farm jobs was drastic, they have waned since the advent of automated farming. But the number of jobs in the food industry has massively increased due to the decreased cost of food production, the massive increase in variety of food choices, and the comparative increase in the prosperity of the average American (they’ve seen an increase in their ability to buy discretionary items like gourmet or varied food).
AI will impact business in the same way. Specific jobs that are numerous today will become less numerous as AI replaces those jobs. But we will more than replace those jobs as each of those business functions becomes much more efficient at achieving the business goal.
In this interview, Brennan White gave a very interesting insight into what the future will be like in terms of marketing content!
I am an author, speaker and consultant in marketing automation and artificial intelligence.
Do you need help with marketing automation or AI-based solutions? Contact me and let’s discuss how I can help you!