William Ammerman’s book The Invisible Brand: Marketing in the Age of Automation, Big Data, and Machine Learning marries two subjects, marketing and artificial intelligence, which may seem ill matched to uninformed readers into a seamless presentation. His presentation makes it clear these two areas are experiencing greater alignment due to technological advancements and his professional life managing digital publishing for twelve consumer publications as Executive Vice President of Digital Media Engaged Media for Six Sails positions him on the front lines of this transformation. He has the needed academic background, as well, to explore this topic after completing post-graduate programs at both MIT and the UNC School of Media & Journalism. Such credentials lend his thoughts in this area considerable weight, but his writing throughout The Invisible Brand does a lot, as well, to reinforce his ideas.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  https://wammerman.com/books/the-invisible-brand/

It is inaccurate to call this book a cautionary work, but Ammerman states early on his overarching purpose behind writing The Invisible Brand is to illuminate the increasing influence of artificial intelligence in our lives and inspire dialogue about its possible repercussions. He devotes ten chapters towards exploring the subject where he relies on a balanced mix of professional experience and research to substantiate his statements. He introduces a term the majority of his readers are unfamiliar with – psychotechnology. The term, in his usage, refers to the growing practice of marketers using voice-based conversations with AI-driven machines capable of learning with the purpose of shaping consumer tastes. He makes a convincing case for why such a development should be cause for the species to reflect on what may result.

Ammerman discusses the evolution of the term “brand” and how it has changed with our advancements. The concept of an “invisible brand”, in his definition, is how hidden forces shaped by a wealth of personalized information, artificial intelligence, and natural language processes, and time-tested methods of persuasion are working behind the scenes and coalescing into an agent of transformation in our everyday lives. His examination of the careful line modern companies must and often fail to straddle implementing new technologies while not alarming a customer base more paranoid and cynical, in some respects, than ever before is another aspect of Ammerman’s presentation many readers will find insightful and thought-provoking.

AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/Invisible-Brand-Marketing-Automation-Learning/dp/1260441253

There are a small assortment of illustrations and graphics incorporated into the text further illuminating its concerns. Ammerman’s clear and economic prose, however, dominates The Invisible Brand and makes a complex issue comprehensible for a full gamut of readers rather than those versed in the topic alone. His study of the role human psychology plays in this growing issue is all the more remarkable given that it isn’t Ammerman’s primary discipline; he takes it on from a variety of sides and references many secondary and outside sources to make convincing connections with artificial intelligence and the future of marketing.

The Invisible Brand: Marketing in the Age of Automation, Big Data, and Machine Learning will endure for many years to come as one of the defining works in its area. William Ammerman utilizes his educational and professional knowledge with impressive results and his goals for the work, stated earlier in this review, are met across the board. It is an informative and challenging reading experience.

Garth Thomas