“By far, the greatest danger of Artificial Intelligence is that people conclude too early that they understand it.” — Eliezer Yudkowsky
Picture yourself picking up your favorite chocolate bar from a retail store and in real time the marketer gets to know the demographics of who is standing in front of their store display and whether you liked the offering or not from your facial expressions. That is AI powered ‘ShelfPoint’ from tech vendor Cloverleaf for you and this is just the tip of the iceberg! Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have been the buzzwords for the last couple of years thanks to Google throwing its weight behind these new game changers – especially for every industry that has gone digital. Can marketing and advertising be far behind ?
Like they say – Forewarned is forearmed. Understanding what AI technology means for the industry with its promise and perils helps ride the wave and reap results. Read on for some suggestions on how AI can make a marketer/advertiser’s life easy.
Let’s begin with a look at the cornerstones of an AI system: Data and Algorithms.
Data — AI trains its algorithms based on data, naturally then the quality of the output depends on the accuracy of data – Garbage In, Garbage out (GIGO). A case in point – Microsoft’s Chatbot – Tay which had to be pulled down for learning from and mirroring racist conversations! Big data analytics is now de facto in most businesses and has been a catalyst in the AI revolution. A shocking 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are being created worldwide with 90% of existing data created only in the last two years.
Algorithms — This is the crux that churns insights from all the data, and the algorithm is as good as the brain behind it. This piece of black box, which is far from transparent, decides the ‘intelligence’ of the system.
Where can AI be used in Marketing and Advertising
1. Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO) is an important application of AI in display advertising. Reaching the right audience with the right creative is a marketers dream. The myriad inputs for arriving at the perfect creative that is customer specific is the result of a long, tedious, and hitherto manual process. DCO helps churn out ads on the fly based on behavior and purchase data, machine-learning algorithms, and also automates the testing of various permutations and combinations of creatives before arriving at the ‘right’ solution.
2. Smart Content – Content has always been king, and will remain so! Customers are increasingly looking for meaningful online experiences and most effective content management systems use content that is right for the customer at the right time. The power of AI is to deliver personalized content to every user across various digital media based on deep learning from his/her interaction with a business. Some examples include –
- Presado, a cognitive content marketing tool that can generate smart personalised content
- Narrative Science to generate ideas in natural language from data
- BoomTrain for a unified view of customers with predictive intelligence
3. Chatbots – AI-powered Chatbots are passé, at times it’s hard for customers to identify if they are communicating with a human or a Chatbot. The advantages of Chatbots are that they are always online, with almost no wait time, and more importantly offer a frictionless human experience. Surprisingly these bots help businesses build a relationship with the customer. Beauty retailer Sephora has taken the AI agent a step further by using them as advisors for end users to help them choose cosmetic products and get a look and feel of the product before making a purchase. Just upload your pic and the AI-powered Virtual artist will handhold you through a makeup session, and help you with choice of shades and makeup techniques.
While there are other areas like automated image recognition, AI-powered customer behavioral insights, predicting customer disengagement, and website personalizations where AI can be used we’ll save these for another day!
Our closing thoughts – AI might not be the elixir to every marketing woe, but it definitely can be a magic wand in the hands of an insightful strategist who carefully uses it to augment the human touch of an online business! Just like any technology AI has its pitfalls. Deploying it for marketing and advertising calls for careful evaluation of the technology stack to suit specific needs and investments in hardware, software, and talent to use these systems effectively. However AI holds a lot of promise in the marketing world and we’re on the cusp of quantum leap!