AI and Digital Marketing

These days conversations in Software industry or Consumer marketing are liberally laced with AI and ML. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are expected to gain momentum as more experimentation by early adopters yield tangible proofs on their utility value in terms of time and cost savings.

Some areas have already started showing early results.

Content – Creation & Curation

AI is already used to interpret data and draw insights. Use cases include Sporting events, Financial analysis, Interpreting marketing data. Intelligent tools include Automated Insights’ Wordsmith- a software that generates a narrative in natural language from data. PowerBI users would have got a glimpse of the natural language processing tools while creating dashboards of their corporate data on sales or spends.

What AI brings is speed, scale and real- time updation. Users of the Wordsmith’s platform include leading names in the news space- Associated Press, BBC, Reuters, CBS , Data visualisation tool- Tableau amongst others.

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Ad Delivery and Email marketing

AI is changing the ad delivery landscape as we speak. Display and Search ads are getting more and more targeted based on user behaviour in real time- based on day, time, location, demographics and psychographics and other simultaneous online behaviour of users. Programmatic ad delivery is handling the complexity brought in by the billions of ad spaces available to the media planner and is taking over mobile and out-of-home devices as well. In a world of increasing connectivity, it not only integrates the marketing media but also optimises the marketing spends. Today only 20% of digital ad spends are on Programmatic ads where bidding for ad spots happen real time. This is likely to grow as more advertisers look at improving their returns on spends.

Tools like Phrasee have tackled some of the subjective aspects of Email marketing like “what subject line works better for an email campaign?”. Some of the brands using Phrasee’s technology include Virgin Holidays and Ebay. Like Wordsmith, Phrasee too uses NLG (Natural Language Generation)  system and generates human sounding copies which also checks for Brand compliance.

AI can also make significant contribution to Attribution models that identifies the channel leading to sales and conversions. In short AI is likely to convert marketing spends to investments!

Consumption Analysis

Personalisation of content has been a mantra and differentiating point for the Digital media all along and it is getting further refined- be it Netflix movies or Google Search.

Last 15- 20 years have seen modelers manually working on data, cleaning these up, identifying trends and outliers and finally building predictive models based on econometric analysis. E- Comm platforms and content providers used suggested products or topics based on purchase or consumption history of other users or trending products or topics. This is moving more and more to automated systems and AI.   AI comes in handy for analyzing large volume of data and for updation of models at quicker intervals rather than waiting for a huge decay in the performance of the model.

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Amazon’s product suggestions are always loved by users. However, Google suggesting products or services which at times are still at a users’ subliminal level has spooked some users.

Augmented Reality

While Augmented and Virtual reality have been talked about for a while, widespread usage is yet to happen. Home designing, Furniture shops, Apparels all seem to be experimenting with Augmented Reality for a while now.

Fashion brands like Shisheido and L’Oreal have acquired AI platforms Giaran and Modiface respectively. For L’Oreal this is the first tech acquisition. Giaran offers AR tools for Mobile, tablet and Smart Mirrors which enables users to see a “Before” and “After” version of themselves after application of a beauty product.

Magic Leap’s AR headset costing $ 2,300 has hit AT&T stores would make far reaching changes to the way one consumes media as well as the shopping experience.

Voice Search and Chat Bots

Voice search will catch up- particularly with a generation that concurrently engages with multiple screens. The world of language has moved from Wren & Martins to Word spellchecks to “Just ask” days.  While Voice Search is yet to hit the threshold level and most searches are still using Text, it is expected to play a significant role in everyday items like Cars, Phones and Homes. Voice search still is grappling with accents, tone and slangs. An AI, continuously learning and tweaking the models could drastically speed up the acceptability of voice searches.

What is also expected to grow is the “Voice to Text” feature which will be a popular feature for cars and will significantly contribute towards road safety as drivers tone down on their texting habits.

Chatbots have found significant acceptance in many online sites including Travel and Banking. However, it still requires a human touch to manage irate customers, cancellations and reversals. Right now, the only thing Chatbots seems to have replaced are the old FAQ section and seem to be more of an organization’s cost cutting tool than a customer benefit. If AI can bring in more accuracy to the responses and can adapt and relearn speedily, it can become one of the game- changing functions in CRM and Customer support.

Many leading brands are either subscribing to AI solutions in marketing or are acquiring the companies itself. However, what remains to be seen is if these early adopters will take it all!