By Michael Foster

Marketing is undergoing a rapid transformation so complicated that it almost defies explanation. Many people don’t really understand what exactly is going on or why this is such a great opportunity for companies who take advantage of the trend to its fullest potential. On top of that, there are too many people greedily keeping this trend’s secrets for themselves or others who are trying to make a quick buck on a major revolution. Not sharing techniques makes it even harder for the average marketer to understand what’s going on or how to benefit their organization.

But DMA &THEN is ready to let you in on those secrets.

Let’s break it down.

Machine learning is a way of collecting a lot of data and then using a variety of algorithms to uncover patterns that can be used to predict the future or understand the past. A great and highly profitable example of machine learning is high-speed algorithmic trading. This trend has taken over Wall Street, using computers to almost instantly predict market moves and then make money on those moves before they happen. This strategy has made many people billions of dollars.

In marketing, machine learning is used in a similar way and can be almost as lucrative. Marketers can use machine learning to predict whether a particular ad placement is going to result in a sale. If the data is predictive, the higher probability of the ad placement resulting in a sale makes the marketing campaign more profitable and, at the end of the day, means more revenue for the marketer.

Easy enough, right? Here’s the problem: There’s a lot of bad data out there that isn’t predictive at all. And on top of that, a lot of bad algorithms don’t really take advantage of the trove of data that’s out there.

So marketers need to get smart about machine learning. It’s becoming more and more important to understand what machine-learning technology is actually yielding results, which is not helpful and which will only have a limited value in a few situations for a limited number of marketing campaigns.

How can marketers get smart about machine learning? You can start at this year’s &THEN conference. In “Machine Learning: How TechStyle is Building One of the Fastest Scaling Fashion Companies in History,” we’re going to see how the company behind Fabletics, ShoeDazzle, Justfab and FabKids has used machine learning to gain market share in an increasingly fractured and niche-driven e-commerce ecosystem. Come join us!

This article is brought to you by &THEN, DMA’s annual event. Click here to join the leaders of the marketing community and explore how data transforms marketing in New Orleans, October 8-10. Save over $400 with early-bird pricing when you register before July 13.