The role of the retail CMO is more complex than it’s ever been. Online marketplaces are getting more and more crowded. 74% of consumers are searching online before buying, with those searches getting longer and more specific. And with so many retailers jostling for consumer attention, performance marketing is no shortcut to getting results.

All the while, the online retail landscape has been dramatically reshaped by AI. Take Google Shopping as an example. It’s the most important platform for any retail marketer – but Google’s investment and innovation is now being directed to Performance Max, the platform’s primary AI tool, rather than the standard form of Google Shopping. Anyone not tailoring their strategies to PMax’s machine learning models risks being left behind.

With all this in mind, we wanted to understand how retail CMOs feel about AI’s rapid rise to prominence, and how they’ve managed – or not – to integrate AI tools into their marketing stack. So we commissioned a survey of 200 retail marketing leaders, completed in December 2023.

An infographic that shows the benefits of ad-blocking software.

We found that CMOs aren’t worried about AI. On the contrary, they embrace it. 9 in 10 think AI and automation will have a positive impact on their business strategies and the outcomes of these. Most seem to know that with AI rewriting the rules of the game, they need to get up to speed with automation to optimise their ROI in online marketplaces.

But there’s still a degree of uncertainty among retail marketers about how best to adapt. ChatGPT and Midjourney might have been the AI tools that went viral the earliest, but they only opened the floodgates. These days, it’s difficult to escape the feeling of being bombarded with supposedly groundbreaking AI software. Which means that with an endless list of potential tools, CMOs often don’t know which way to turn. It’s hard to be sure which ones are worth it and which ones aren’t.

A diagram showing the different types of batteries.

The result is that even though CMOs understand the importance of AI adoption, they’re yet to put this into practice. 75% of our respondents still think their use of AI could be better, while slightly over half (52%) don’t have AI tools fully integrated into their Google Shopping accounts. And a sizeable minority, 37%, aren’t even using Performance Max.

It’s understandable. Performance marketing is tricky enough even without the prospect of wasting endless time on a complicated new tool that might not even deliver results. But the reality is that without an informed, forward-thinking approach to AI, CMOs are lagging behind and missing out on opportunities to maximise that all-important ROI.

This is where Upp.AI comes in. We’re experts in precision-engineered, AI-enhanced performance marketing. We’ve been helping businesses with it for years, showing them how AI can work for them and ultimately benefit their bottom line. And this is why we used the results from our survey to put together a CMO playbook on using AI in 2024.

Maximise profits from your multi-channel online product advertising, with our guide to using AI in 2024 for CMOs.