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Microsoft’s latest AI product is made for marketers

The news: Microsoft is rolling out an AI assistant called Dynamics 365 Copilot powered by OpenAI and designed for marketing and sales professionals. Proposed use cases include customer service, creating customer categories, and writing marketing copy.

Old but new: Customer service, recommending purchases, writing email copy—these are all functions for which advertisers have widely embraced artificial intelligence. Microsoft’s selling point is to provide marketers with an industry-leading AI tool that will help productivity and could later be integrated with other products under one business workflow app.

  • Copilot steers clear of “creative” and consumer-facing use cases like image and creative writing generation that may be appealing to cost-conscious marketers, but have landed in legal hot water for alleged copyright infringement, art theft, and plagiarism.
  • Still, Microsoft warned customers that the product needs human oversight. It’s all in the name: “Copilot” suggests that this is not something that will replace workers or fully automate systems, but is a tool to help business development and processes.

Microsoft comes for the ad market: AI is bigger than just marketing. Microsoft is racing with Google to develop prominent AI-powered products across industries. If AI can help Microsoft claim even a small portion of Google’s digital ad market share, that amounts to a multibillion-dollar opportunity.

  • Microsoft has been pushing its way into advertising in recent years. The company’s 2022 worldwide digital ad revenues amounted to $12.23 billion and will reach $13.67 billion in 2023, a drop in the bucket compared with Google’s expected $180.59 billion.
  • The ad giant’s hold on the industry is also under threat from regulation that threatens to break up its ad empire. But even without those threats, B2B marketing represents a vein of ad revenues that are somewhat untapped by Google, and are a place Microsoft can squeeze in to establish a claim.
  • There’s clearly demand for AI in marketing. Last August, a Salesforce survey found that around 90% of marketers were using AI to automate customer interactions or for data integration. As marketing budgets tighten, AI’s promise of uncovering new consumer categories and marketing strategies grows all the more enticing.

Our take: Dynamics 365 Copilot helps Microsoft advance both its artificial intelligence and digital advertising agendas while neatly solving prescient problems for marketers. If it delivers on its promise, marketers will be able to do more with less.

  • That said, a string of AI screw-ups means marketers should still carefully review anything that Copilot dishes out—especially when it comes to copy and creating consumer categories.