Why You Aren’t Getting More from Your Marketing AI

by Eva Ascarza, Michael Ross, and Bruce G. S. Hardie

WHEN A LARGE TELECOM COMPANY’S marketers set out to reduce customer churn, they decided to use artificial intelligence to determine which customers were most likely to defect. Armed with the AI’s predictions, they bombarded the at-risk customers with promotions enticing them to stay. Yet many left despite the retention campaign. Why? The managers had made a fundamental error: They had asked the algorithm the wrong question. While the AI’s predictions were good, they didn’t address the real problem the managers were trying to solve.

That kind of scenario is all too common among companies using AI to inform business decisions. In a 2019 survey ...

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