Survey: Marketers confident in using AI, but privacy remains top concern

Zach Russell headshot
retail technology
Three-quarters of the marketers surveyed by SOCi said they are confident in using AI.

Privacy is the top concern for retail marketers looking to adopt artificial intelligence (AI) into their strategy, according to a new survey.

SOCI Inc., a cloud marketing platform, has shared a Part IV of its AI Marketing Transformation Index, which found that privacy topped the list of marketers’ concerns at 52%. This was followed by “over-dependence on technology” (46%), “making data ‘AI-ready’” (41%), and “AI potentially replacing my role” (36%). Other concerns included integration with current systems (35%) and ensuring ROI (30%).

In terms of established usage and privacy guidelines for AI technology, nearly four-in-10 (39%) of the 317 digital marketers surveyed confirmed having guidelines in place, while 35% are currently in the process of developing these guidelines. However, 22% do not have any usage or privacy guidelines in place.

“Privacy concerns often stem from how companies collect, store, and use consumer data for marketing purposes,” said Monica Ho, CMO, SOCi. “With AI's ability to analyze large datasets, there's an increased risk of sensitive information being mishandled or used in ways that violate consumer privacy. Establishing clear internal guidelines and policies around AI usage in marketing can help ensure ethical practices and compliance with laws.”

When asked about the challenges faced when integrating AI into marketing strategies and workflows, the top concern was “lack of understanding of AI,” cited by nearly half of respondents (47%). “Difficulty in aligning AI with marketing goals" followed at 44%, with “inadequate training or education” (43%) and "budget constraints” (36%) also being large concerns. Only 1% reported other challenges, while 7% are not integrating AI at all.

Regarding resources needed for better AI integration, the most significant need was for “more time to understand and implement AI,” highlighted by 62%. This was followed by “more trained personnel” (53%), “more budget” (44%), and “clearer strategies from leadership” (32%). Four-in-10 (39%) of those surveyed have specialized staff for overseeing AI models, while 21% do not, and 37% are in the process of training or upskilling their staff.

When it comes to leveraging AI to support marketing efforts, three-quarters (75%) told SOCi they are confident, with 26% of that group very confident, and 49% somewhat confident. In contrast, 19% aren't confident, with 14% not very confident, and 5% not confident at all.

“Today's findings reveal a big gap in AI adoption for marketing,” said Ho. “While three-in-four are confident in using AI, challenges like understanding AI, aligning it with marketing goals, and resource constraints persist. This calls for a strategic focus on education, planning, and resource allocation to maximize AI's potential.”

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds