How human-robot collaboration is changing the face of digital marketing

How human-robot collaboration is changing the face of digital marketing

27th June 2016

Google is a great example of human-computer interaction; there is a human need for information, and the more successful the searcher is able to interact with the computer (Google in this case), the greater the outcome derived.

It is perfectly logical then, that the next step from this symbiotic relationship between people and computers, is the movement towards human-robot collaboration.

In this article my focus has been skewed towards search and digital marketing human-robot interaction as a topic, as opposed to specific aspects of interaction and debate like; whether digital assistants will replace search.

Human vs Robots?


As you might expect, one of the initial stages of human-robot interaction in the workplace, often focuses on the job robots will steal first, as well as the traditional attention grabbing headlines including human’s vs robots. The actual reality for human-robot working is quite different, especially within data driven industries including digital marketing.

The role of the robot in digital working

When it comes to search and digital marketing the primary roles of robots are proactive; collaborating with the marketing specialist, and reactive; responding to any triggering of machine learning and Artificial Intelligence signals.

Proactive human-robot interaction

There are many ways in which digital marketers can work effectively with robots and arguably the biggest opportunity lies with data.

In almost every digital job function data plays an important role. ‘Big data’ is a term almost everyone in the search marketing and digital sphere frequently uses (or is certainly familiar with), yet comparatively few specialists are leveraging the role of robots in making the most out of this wealth of data the industry has access to.

You can see the growth of big data using external trends tools, in this case; Google Ngram Viewer. Here you can view the frequency of big data references in textbooks since the 1950’s:


Personally, I believe the most effective collaborative working model for marketers and robots, is one where the robots take over the heavy data lifting, and the humans apply their specialisms turning data driven insights into meaningful actions. Let me explain this more practically.

A typical marketing manager may use anywhere from 15 to 30 different sets of data. For example; a tool for crawling a website, one for providing header status information, another collating backlink data… the list is endless.

When you have all of this data (usually in Excel files or similar office products), the initial task involves trawling through thousands (if you are fortunate), millions (for the less fortunate) of rows of data that all need lots of work, to even make the data sets interact and comparable. All of this work takes place before a single moment of meaningful, expert analysis can happen. Here is where the robot collaboration comes into play.

Any action that is highly structured, has a logical set of instructions, and requires processing of information that can be taught to a machine, a robot will perform more effectively than a human.

This proactive approach to human-robot working provides the expert with freedom to focus on tasks requiring knowledge, experience, creativity and expertise. It helps to remove working inefficiencies, and speeds up the process from data to insight, and finally, to action and implementation.

Reactive human-robot interaction

In the context of this post, reactive human-robot digital interaction relates to approaches for search and digital tactics, which can assist in making the most out of Google, and other search engine, robots opportunities – think about RankBrain as an example of this.


The great thing about machine learning and Artificial Intelligence is that it is based on logic, and has a clearly identified purpose. The more that you apply this understanding into your search marketing and wider digital approaches, the greater the opportunities to leverage value from this insight.

Here’s a few tips for leveraging the reactive human-robot interaction (in this context tied towards search engine gains and Google RankBrain and associated areas like ‘Hummingbird’ and more):

  • Ensure content has a clear topic, a structured approach to its presentation and has depth of supporting information
  • Think about keywords – breadth and variation of terminology used, debunking jargon, and answering of pertinent questions specific to the topic
  • All devices and content types make an impact. Content needs to be fully accessible, supported by structured data, quick to load, and supporting as many search verticals and content digesting preferences as feasible
  • Focus on quality and value (putting the user first) and support this with robot understanding acknowledgment

Will robots replace humans in digital marketing?


The more we embrace human-robot interaction and integrated working, the greater the combined, and individual value that both humans and robots will bring to the industry. By leveraging the strengths of each for proactive working, and evolving strategy and tactics deployed to reflect the opportunity of reactive working, the challenge becomes so much more exciting.

90% of all the data in the world was created in the past two years” (IBM – ‘What is big data?’), the challenge that digital experts now face, is how to make the most of this data, turn information into insight, and embrace the role of the robots for a true competitive advantage.


Note – all images included have been sourced from – “All photos on Pexels are free for any personal and commercial purpose.” – see

The only exception is the screen shot taken from Google publically accessible information – Google Ngram Viewer

Written By
Lee Wilson is the Head of Services & SEO for Vertical Leap, a UK Search Marketing and Digital Agency that offers the most effective and thorough search marketing service in the UK, helping companies maximise their online visibility.
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