January 22, 2019
3 Mins to Read

CES 2019: What a robot can teach us about the future of digital marketing

CES 2019: What a robot can teach us about the future of digital marketing

Have you ever thought your kids would be raised by screens, have robot friends, or be able to control things with their mind? If you’ve ever watched movies like Terminator 2, The Matrix, or Back to the Future then no doubt the thought has crossed your mind. But after attending CES 2019 in Las Vegas, we’re more convinced than ever before that the age of AI and automation is finally upon us.

What is CES?

For those of you who don’t already know, CES – or the Consumer Electronic Show – is the world’s gathering place for the latest and greatest technological developments.

Featuring 4,500 exhibitors and more than 180,000 attendees from across the world, the event showcases cutting-edge advancements; with groundbreaking displays from giants like Google, Huawei and Mercedes Benz offering a window into the future.

So what will the technology of tomorrow look like? If this year’s event is anything to go by, then AI and automation look set to be the foundations upon which the digital landscape of the future is built.


One of the highlights of CES 2019 was playing a match of ping pong table tennis with Forpheaus. This is the world’s only ping pong robot that uses AI to teach opponents how to become better players.

Forpheaus uses multiple cameras and sensors on the paddle to get to know and understand its opponent. Then it adjusts its skill level to keep the rally going. Allowing the user to practice and gradually get better over time.

From ping pong to profitable marketing

We were lucky to spend some time with Mike Chen, the Director of Corporate Engineering at Omron Automation. He discussed the company’s mission to showcase how consumer products that employed automation could be used to simplify everyday life.

The conversation and our futuristic ping pong experience got us thinking about how there are similarities when it comes to machine learning and AI in the digital marketing arena.


For example: If you watch the video of us playing against the ping pong robot, it seemed like it was messing up a lot at first. But upon further reflection, the robot just started off slow in an attempt to better understand the human player’s skill level.

Now, many people jumped to the conclusion that the robot was broken or just not that successful. However, in reality, the machine was simply starting off slow so that it could learn. Once it understood its opponent it started playing on a more competitive level, sometimes even outplaying its human counterpart.

So what does this have to do with digital marketing?

Consider for a moment the most modern digital marketing platforms. They offer the option to leverage machine learning to perform various tasks like finding audiences that maximize revenue or adjusting advertising efforts in real-time.

Many agencies are hesitant to explore the power this automation undoubtedly offers. This is because, like the ping pong robot, there is a learning curve involved. Therefore, many of them are simply unwilling to give the AI the time it needs to get up to speed.

Their reluctance is understandable of course. Before exploring the power of machine learning it’s vital that you understand and mitigate this risk as much as possible. However, like with Forpheaus, the slow start will quickly pay off. The exponential rate at which the robot learns and improves is well worth the initial risk over time. Only when it comes to digital marketing, the AI will be delivering more bang for your buck rather than smashing a backhand return past you.

Leveraging the power of machine learning

Organizations now have more data at their fingertips than at any other point in human history. But with a near-infinite amount of information to work with it’s nearly impossible to crunch all of the numbers. That’s where technology comes in.

Indeed today’s digital platforms now allow advertisers to leverage AI and machine learning to take their campaigns to the next level. They do this by automatically adjusting budgets and allocate funds to the networks and placements that are working the best. Machine learning can also be leveraged to read user behaviour to spot real-time signals. Then they make optimizations at a frequency that a human could not match.

The outcome is that companies are now able to tap into the potential of this new technology. They can connect with more customers than ever before. It’s a powerful tool that can engage with audiences that humans alone cannot reach. But like any tool, it needs the right people to employ it.

While robots can create text ads, analyze data points, and efficiently automate processes – they can’t produce creative, identify hooks, or generate the strategy that is going to help an organization reach its objectives. That’s where the specialist skills of a flesh and blood team is needed. To ensure that AI and machine learning is utilized as part of a holistic digital marketing strategy.

That’s why we have a division that’s designed to put human insight at the heart of artificial intelligence. At Major Tom, our team of experts located in New York, Toronto and Vancouver combine machine learning with our existing analysis tools to provide cutting-edge analysis for organizations like yours. Check out this case study on how we used AI and machine learning to increase goal conversions.

Victoria Samways, Marketing & Brand Manager

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