79% of Americans believe the use of A.I. in marketing should be regulated by a “Blade Runner” rule

New York, New York, UNITED STATES

  • 71% of Americans think brands should have consent before using A.I. to market to them
  • 28% would feel negatively towards their favorite brand if they discovered it was using A.I. instead of humans for customer service

NEW YORK, Oct. 09, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --  As Blade Runner 2049 hits movie theatres, new research shows that concerns about artificial intelligence (A.I.) are top of mind for American consumers. Research titled “Sex, Lies and A.I.” from SYZYGY (a WPP digital agency group) reveals that 79% of Americans believe a new “Blade Runner rule” is needed to make it illegal for A.I. applications such as social media bots, chatbots and virtual assistants to conceal their identity and pose as humans. Nine in 10 (89%) of Americans believe that the use of A.I. in marketing should be regulated with a legally-binding code of conduct and almost three-quarters (71%) think that brands should need their explicit consent before using A.I. when marketing to them.

Photos accompanying this announcement are available at


Megan Harris, Managing Director, SYZYGY North America, said: “This is a human-centric study designed to uncover people’s positive and negative feelings about A.I. As the advertising and marketing industry expands its use of A.I. and develops more A.I.-powered technology solutions, we need to collectively develop ethical and operational guidance grounded in the attitudes, values and fears of the consumer.”

Impact of A.I. usage
Feelings towards A.I. being used in advertising are more neutral. Only 21% of Americans would feel negatively if they discovered the latest ad for their favorite brand was created by A.I. rather than humans, compared with 28% who would feel more negatively towards their favorite brand if they discovered it was using A.I. instead of humans to offer customer service and support. This rises to a third (32%) among women.

Meanwhile, one in five (21%) would feel more negatively towards their favorite brand if they discovered it had been using A.I. in their marketing campaigns to profile them.

A.I. understanding still limited
Only 11% of Americans say they know a lot about A.I. When asked to choose from among 17 words that describe their feelings towards A.I., “interested” was the top descriptor, given by 45% of U.S. respondents. Close behind was “concerned” (41%), “skeptical” (40%), “unsure” (39%) and “suspicious” (30%). Most Americans expect that A.I. will have benefits, saving them time (40%) and making things safer (15%) and more useful (13%).

Job transformation vs. job loss
Almost a third of people (30%) most fear that A.I will replace jobs. Americans believe that over the next five years, a machine could take over 36% of their individual job duties (this rises to 44% among Millennials).

Marketing A.I. Rule Book
However, if brands use it fairly and transparently, consumers aren’t completely averse to them using A.I. to market products and services: as many as 79% would not object to A.I. being used to profile and target them in marketing.

SYZYGY has defined a Marketing A.I Rule Book, with guidelines as follows:

Do no harm - A.I. technology should not be used to deceive, manipulate or in any other way harm the well-being of marketing audiences.

Build trust - A.I. should be used to build rather than erode trust in marketing. This means using A.I. to improve marketing transparency, honesty and fairness, and to eliminate false, manipulative or deceptive content.

Do not conceal - A.I. systems should not conceal their identity or pose as humans in interactions with marketing audiences.

Be helpful - A.I. in marketing should be put to the service of marketing audiences by helping people make better purchase decisions based on their genuine needs through the provision of clear, truthful and unbiased information.

Dr. Paul Marsden, SYZYGY’s consumer psychologist who managed the study, added: “This research reveals how consumers are conflicted when it comes to A.I. Many see advantages, but there are underlying fears based on whether this technology or the organizations behind it have their best interests at heart. Brands need to be sensitive to how people feel about this new technology. What we need is a human-first, not technology-first approach to the deployment of A.I.”

The WPP SYZYGY study, “Sex, Lies and A.I.: How the American Public Feels About Artificial Intelligence” was conducted in Q3, 2017 with 2,000 American adults aged 18-65 from the WPP Lightspeed Consumer Panel. The study can be downloaded from https://think.syzygy.net/ai-report/us.


SYZYGY is an international digital communications agency partially owned by the WPP Group. We put human happiness at the heart of everything we do, and use digital technology to help brands become agents of positive change. Headquartered in Germany with offices in New York, London and Warsaw, our team of 600 professionals work with leading brands around the world, including Avis Budget Group, Kettle Chips, and Mazda.

Gail Nelson
646.757.5300 ext. 325

SYZYGY Uncovers Blade Runner Rule for A.I. in Marketing SYZYGY: What Americans Fear Most About A.I.

Contact Data