Younger workers in marketing and advertising are more than twice as likely as workers 45+ to say AI is being discussed a lot at work (40% vs. 17%).
This is just one of the discoveries in the exclusive, never-before-published data shared with MarketingSherpa from the CNBC|SurveyMonkey Workforce Survey of 8,874 U.S. workers.
Read on to see all the data, along with commentary from marketing and advertising professionals about their AI experience to add some color to the data.
A member of the MECLABS AI Guild saw the following data under the heading “Artificial Intelligence: Threat or opportunity?” on CNBC and shared it with us…
Worker concern by industry
The source was the CNBC|SurveyMonkey Workforce Survey of 8,874 U.S. workers from May 23-31, 2023.
I was intrigued. We are the industry most concerned about AI? I had to learn more.
So I reached out to the source, and they agreed to provide an exclusive, never-before-published look at the data for MarketingSherpa readers – pertaining specifically to advertising and marketing professionals.
“AI is already having a huge impact on workers, and we wanted to start to measure that impact through our survey with CNBC,” said Laura Wronski, Director of Research, SurveyMonkey. “Technological disruption doesn’t affect everyone equally, and so far the disruption due to AI seems to be playing a larger role in the marketing and advertising space than in many other parts of the economy.”
In addition to the data from that survey, I put out a call to marketing and advertising professionals for their take on these questions. I received 199 responses and included some of those in here as well to add some color to the data. Let’s dive in…
Chart #1: How much, if at all, has the topic of artificial intelligence (AI) been discussed at your workplace?
Younger workers in marketing and advertising are more than twice as likely as workers 45+ to say AI is being discussed extensively at work (40% vs. 17%).
Are older workers being left out of conversations about what could be a major part of their industry’s strategic direction?
I remember with the rise of social media, I saw an upending of the traditional benefits of seniority. When I was starting out in my career, I wrote print ads in the newspaper and direct mail pieces. I knew less than my more senior colleagues about print. But with the advent of social media, leaders were turning to younger workers for their experience. These digital natives since were fluent in social media already. They didn’t have to learn it.
Or here’s another take on the data – perhaps older advertising and marketing professionals are just more likely to work in organizations that are not considering AI as forcefully. Will these organizations get left behind?
Here is what advertising and marketing professionals told me about AI conversations…
Josh Weaver, Sr. Brand & Social Media Manager, Ad Leverage, 34 years old:
“AI is a daily discussion. It has to be, the applications we are discovering and testing are coming up that often. It has officially transitioned passed a novel conversation topic to a dedicated team, meetings, and Slack channels. Everyone is regularly reminded to propose prompts or even prompt ideas and we've started working with our clients to help them discover ideas for our prompt engineers to test and develop.
It's incredibly exciting and inspirational when we are able to educate our partners on how best to use AI and LLM for their specific use cases. It feels like how I imagine it felt to pass the newly invented ‘fire’ from torch to torch in the stone age – awash with dangerous potential, seeing their eyes light up is addicting.”
Patrick Pan, Vice President of Corporate Strategy & New Ventures, Demand.io, 36 years old:
“This is being discussed daily, even hourly. It's become so central to how we operate as a marketing organization and also as a company such that we have pivoted the company's business model to have AI be central in the product and growth roadmap. It is used in regular content development and research activities as well. I've gotten my entire marketing team onto an ‘AI for Marketing’ digital course, even.”
Amber Carpenter, Vice President of Product, VTrips, 43 years old:
“VTrips has been discussing integrating varying aspects of artificial intelligence throughout our organization for many years but it has increased substantially in the last 18 months.”
Chart #2: How worried are you that artificial intelligence will soon make your job obsolete?
This result really surprised me. Older marketers are less worried than their younger peers – 56% of older marketers said they were not worried that AI will soon make their job obsolete (32% not so worried and 24% not worried at all), compared with 44% of younger workers (28% not so worried and 15% not worried at all).
During the previous technical disruptions I’ve been a part of in my career (the internet, ecommerce, mobile, social media, etc.), it usually seemed like the older workers were the ones that were worried. They’d built their career on something else. And the new disruption was scary. After all, change is always hard.
The only explanation I could think of for this result was a conversation I had with an advertising agency owner during the early days of the digital content marketing revolution (remember, many agencies had built their margins on media buying commissions, which was not as integral to content marketing). He referred to an older advertising agency owner we both knew and said, “He’s a few years away from selling his agency and retiring, he doesn’t have to worry about this. I have to figure out how to build my agency around it.”
Does that explain why older workers are less worried? They figure that AI may be transformative in advertising and marketing, but…not just yet. And perhaps they can run out the clock of their career without having to worry about it.
“Younger people are more quick to jump on new trends—especially in technology. But they also have more risk to worry about, as they are earlier in their careers and have a longer time horizon in which they’ll have to figure out how to adapt to these technological changes. They can’t just retire and avoid the disruption; they’ll have to work through it somehow,” Wronski said.
Marketers told me…
Brett Bogner, Marketing Specialist, Keytos, 21 years old:
While I am worried about AI eventually taking over a lot of aspects of my job, I am by no means worried about it making my job obsolete.
The great thing about having gone to college during AI’s ascent to the mainstream is that it was brought up in classes all the time, and the combination of learning how to capitalize on AI in school and incorporating AI into my day-to-day in both internships and the post-grad workforce has shown me that not just anyone can harness AI to its maximum potential; rather, you need the mind of a marketer to fully understand how to utilize AI. AI simply complements my job; it is by no means a substitute for me.
Alexander Hollingsworth, SEO Marketing Associate, Oyova, 26 years old:
“The fear of AI making jobs obsolete is a concern often heard, but I tend not to worry about this. In my role as an SEO Marketing Associate, I view AI as an enhancer rather than a replacement. It frees up my time from manual, repetitive tasks, allowing me to concentrate on strategy and creativity, which are areas where AI can't replace human input.
That said, I do think generative AI will replace many jobs that aren't currently viewed by most to be at-risk. My perspective is that any jobs that can be done entirely on a keyboard and are not highly creative will be replaced to some extent, though that time has not yet come.”
Emilie Vicchio, Director, Marketing, Brand & Communication, Client Solution Architects, 39 years old:
“I don't view AI as a job eliminator that many fear it to be. While AI can churn out decent content, it's often rather generic, requiring human touch-ups by someone who can tell the difference between good and bad copy. And I find, the more you use it, the more it tends to recycle ideas.
As content creators, and for those who manage brands, we're constantly crafting and re-spinning benefits and proof points in new, interesting and fresh ways. If you are not careful, AI can chip away at the authenticity of your brand voice.
However, the future of marketing will be determined by those who can best utilize or have experience using AI. Those in marketing who still need to begin harnessing AI's potential are already trailing behind. It's not about fearing AI but about embracing and leveraging it.”
Ken Ducey, Jr., President, HamletHub, 58 years old:
“The amount of labor needed is not a finite number, it is infinite. Yes, there will be jobs replaced by technology, but that will allow people to fill the demand for other, better, jobs.”
Chart #3: How likely is it that your job will change significantly in the next five years due to disruption from AI?
After looking at the above chart, I also realize that while younger workers are worried, there are many who don’t necessary equate change with concern. After all, 74% said it was likely that their job will change significantly in the next five years due to disruption from AI (27% very likely, and 47% somewhat likely) while 55% said they were worried (15% very worried and 40% somewhat worried, from Chart #2).
So there is a group of younger marketers that focus on the opportunity in AI. And after all, great disruption can be an opportunity for massive wealth building – the personal computer, ecommerce, electric cars, etc.
Of course, it can also cause an economic bubble and a great loss of time and money (crypto, dot-com, Tulip mania).
In fact, AI has already been through a bubble. According to a 1994 article in AI Magazine “The first AI companies rushed to market academically interesting but underdeveloped techniques with few applications or customers. In the speculative hysteria of the 1980s, most found enough backing to support lavish facilities and bloated staffs, lured from academia with inflated salaries and promises.” However, “the bubble developed fatal leaks by the end of the decade…” (from The Great 1980s AI Bubble: A Review of The Brain Makers by Hans Moravec). Sound familiar?
Here is what marketing and advertising professionals shared with me about AI disruption…
AJ T. Cole, Global Promotional Products Work Initiative Manager (Marketing & PR), Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), 33 years old:
“My job already has changed in many ways. I am much faster with AI tools and can turnaround plans, articles, data, and iterative adjustments at a rapid pace.
What AI can, will, and probably already is doing, is replacing entry-level opportunities for writing and analysis which I do see as being a problem that will hit departments in five or so years. Entry-level workers are being bypassed for AI. Rather than assigning an article for an entry-level person to try, I can punch in a command, and it spits out entry-level content which is great for me now because I don’t have support staff.
However, I imagine entry-level workers in marketing are going to find it difficult to catch up on the nuance of marketing without having the opportunity to try and make mistakes to learn from, which I see as being a hiring challenge in five years.”
Brian David Crane, Founder and CMO, Spread Great Ideas, LLC, 40 years old:
“Some parts of my job will change significantly over the next five years. As AI becomes more competent in engaging with huge boatloads of data, it will be able to write from defined perspectives and even adapt to the audience. This can be a challenge for the generic writer. In the coming years, AI can become a cost-effective solution for most everyday tasks content writers do.
Still, I must better myself and adapt to AI to keep my role relevant when it comes to content creativity, planning, and marketing campaigns.”
Sorilbran Stone, Head of Content Marketing, The Shelf, 48 years old:
“My job has already changed significantly. The introduction of SGE (Google Search Generative Experience) plus the changes we’ve seen on the heels of Google’s Useful Content update plus the availability of supercharged AI tools means I’m spending more time mapping a more nuanced path forward.
Some of my tasks I've had to reassign to one of our writers so that I can focus on strategy, measurement, and building out our authority and trust signals ahead of the full SGE rollout. And it hasn’t even been two months since Google I/O 2023.
We have a heavier lift as far as content creation than we had last year this time. But we also have AI tools that help us implement the changes.”
Chart #4: Which best describes how you use AI in your daily job?
Half of older marketers said “I don’t use AI at all in my job” but only 26% of younger marketers responded the same.
So not only are older marketers missing the conversations about AI for the future of their organizations, they are far less likely to be using it today. If this describes you and you would like to learn more about artificial intelligence in advertising and marketing, we have created the MECLABS AI Guild to help (no matter what age you are).
Here are some insights marketers shared with me…
John Jamison, Director of Data Platforms, H/L, 33 years old:
“AI is already reshaping our work, whether it's fostering creative ideation or simplifying complex coding for our analytics systems. We anticipate this influence only expanding in the next five years. In our daily work, AI is serving as a bridge, connecting technical and creative roles in ways not previously seen.
For instance, AI-based image generation in Slack has acted as a ‘water-cooler’ of sorts for our creative process and provided a communal space for remote collaboration that people across our agency have flocked to.”
Kevin E. Groh, Director of Content Marketing, Streamline Health, 35 years old:
“I use AI, specifically ChatGPT, in various aspects of my job. For instance, I use it to generate initial drafts of marketing content, which saves time and sparks creativity. I also use it to analyze market trends and customer feedback, helping us make data-driven decisions to improve our marketing strategies.”
Raul Arantes, Creative Director, MediaMonks, 40 years old:
“I want to mention Adobe confidently pushing its Firefly tool and offering indemnity against IP-related lawsuits for enterprise users. Many companies are enthusiastic about AI but very cautious about IP considerations.
I started using it. In the commercial environment, where IP is an issue, I believe that companies (agencies, design studios) reluctant to incorporate AI into their production pipelines will also consider using it.”
Wronski described the methodology for the overall survey, “Twice per year, we field our CNBC|SurveyMonkey Workforce Survey, in which we sample more than 8,000 workers age 18 and over across the U.S. We rely on SurveyMonkey’s proprietary river sample methodology to recruit our survey takers, and we weight our data after it has been collected to ensure our population of respondents represents the U.S. employed population in terms of age, sex, race, region, education, and part-time vs. full-time status. All responses (including demographics) are self-reported, so our findings on the generational differences regarding AI just reflect the different points of view that younger workers have compared with their older peers.”
For these charts specifically, this is a segment of 195 professionals in advertising and marketing, from the survey. Numbers in the charts may not add up to 100% because ‘No answer’ was not included in the charts. ‘No answer’ accounted for 0% to 3% of responses.
Get Better Business Results With a Skillfully Applied Customer-first Marketing Strategy
The customer-first approach of MarketingSherpa’s agency services can help you build the most effective strategy to serve customers and improve results, and then implement it across every customer touchpoint.Get More Info >
Get headlines, value prop, competitive analysis, and more.Use the AI for FREE (for now) >
Marketer Vs Machine
Marketer Vs Machine: We need to train the marketer to train the machine.Watch Now >
Free Marketing Course
Become a Marketer-Philosopher: Create and optimize high-converting webpages (with this free online marketing course)See Course >
Project and Ideas Pitch Template
A free template to help you win approval for your proposed projects and campaignsGet the Template >
Six Quick CTA checklists
These CTA checklists are specifically designed for your team — something practical to hold up against your CTAs to help the time-pressed marketer quickly consider the customer psychology of your “asks” and how you can improve them.Get the Checklists >
Infographic: How to Create a Model of Your Customer’s Mind
You need a repeatable methodology focused on building your organization’s customer wisdom throughout your campaigns and websites. This infographic can get you started.Get the Infographic >
Infographic: 21 Psychological Elements that Power Effective Web Design
To build an effective page from scratch, you need to begin with the psychology of your customer. This infographic can get you started.Get the Infographic >
Receive the latest case studies and data on email, lead gen, and social media along with MarketingSherpa updates and promotions.