Artificial Intelligence – not new, just better
No, the alien robots from the 1989 video game Zero Wing aren’t coming to get you.
The perceived increase use of Artificial Intelligence (Augmented Intelligence or AI) in marketing is just that, perceived. Marketers have been using computers and algorithms for years; the reason for the increased awareness is due mainly to the rapid improvements made, increased press coverage, and intensified marketing of tools such as IBM Watson.
Been there, doing that.
Some examples of AI are so commonplace we hardly notice them, anymore.
Netflix and Amazon are prime (no pun intended) examples of companies using algorithms to make recommendations. Aside from just being cool, as you make choices (and other users make choices), the systems learn. With each decision, better recommendations deliver better outcomes for both the business and the consumer.
AI also gives marketers the ability to draw information quickly from diverse data sets. Nike’s running app and Apple Watch pull information about the user’s health, training goals, past workout data, social network and even the music they prefer to deliver a better experience each step of the way (ok, maybe that pun was intended).
And when you start typing in Google’s search bar, the suggested searches aren’t random. They’re based on the machine learning of millions of searches and computers’ constantly-improving natural language processing (NLP) ability to provide the most relevant search results quicker than ever. NLP is pretty amazing. Not only does Google search for keywords, the NLP ‘learns’ the content of what Google ‘reads.’ This ongoing process continually improves both search results and user experience.
Businesses use NLP to create ‘sentiment’ analysis. That’s a fancy way of saying the computers crawl through social networks and review sites and analyze whether any posted content casts them in a positive or negative light so that they can plan and respond accordingly.
You may notice a pattern here. AI allows businesses to better predict consumer behavior. Sure, they use it to determine the optimal price to sell products, but they also use it to improve customer service. According to the MIT Technology Review (no, you don’t have to graduate from there to read the publication!), USAA is working with Intel to ‘mimic the randomness of the connections made by the human brain.’ They’re combining 7,000 different factors to predict what products/services customers are looking for with 88% accuracy. Again, AI reduces the cost of sale and sales cycle while improving the customer experience.
Digital companies have been using data for years to target customers. Now, they’re optimizing advertisers’ budgets to obtain the highest cost-per-acquisition using programmatic advertising. More specifically, they’re moving beyond what ‘sites’ are best to reach their target on a cost-per-thousand basis and are determining what content on those sites is most likely to motivate their prospect in tandem with their advertising.
Companies like Cerebri AI are using AI to shorten companies sales cycles. With AI, they can make all of a company’s sales people behave (and close) like their best sales people. By tapping into the existing CRM, Cerebri can determine at what point in the sales process customers are more likely to buy. And they’re not just lumping all prospects together; they’re creating very detailed personas to determine what best motivates each segment. They’re also able to match sales representatives with persona types with whom they have proven success to further increase the likelihood of a deal.
AI isn’t just helping customer service; sometimes it IS customer service. Those ‘people’ you’ve been chatting with on websites for help are often computers using NLP and millions of data points (customer behavior) to assist you. And it doesn’t stop with customer service. Ad Age reports that EBay is testing a shopping assistant (ShopBot) on Facebook Messenger to make it easier for users to find items to purchase. AI is employed to learn about shoppers via their Facebook profile and remembers past purchases (and sizes) to speed up the process (instead of sorting through the approximately 1,000,000,000 listed at any given time).
Who needs Johnnie Cochran or Clarence Darrow?
DoNotPay (which was created by a teenager) uses AI to provide basic legal services in the UK and New York City. To date, it has successfully challenged over 160,000 parking tickets and works to provide compensation to passengers of delayed flights.
The abilities of computer learning are expanding faster than I can type: speech recognition, language recognition, image recognition…what’s next?!
Glad you asked.
AI is being integrated with automation to bring new products to market at an alarming rate. Consumers will embrace brands that free them from the mundane…
The Permanent Passenger Seat
Highly publicized crashes aside, numerous companies are working on self-driving cars. It started with ‘parking assist’ and continues to improve. Tesla is adding more cameras and computers that are 40X faster than ones previously installed. Elon Musk predicts that by the end of 2017, a car will be able to drive from New York City to Los Angeles without the driver having to do anything. The cars will even ‘read’ signs to see if parking is permitted and you’ll be able to ‘summon’ your car to reach you wherever you are. This is an excellent example of how data continually improves a product. According to the MIT Technology Review, Tesla is collecting one million miles of driving data every 10 hours!
Raise a glass to the brewmaster…er…computer
IntelligentX is a brewery in Australia that uses AI to process consumer feedback and create algorithms to formulate beer recipes. Customers provide feedback directly to the company and based on results continually tweak the brew as it strives for perfection.
FeltSo out of India knows that consumer reviews are an increasingly critical part of a buyer’s purchasing decision. They use AI to analyze millions of reviews, weed out the fake ones, and provide product recommendations. Currently, they are just providing mobile and restaurant suggestions, but we’re excited to watch them grow.
Don’t forget Siri and Alexa
These virtual assistants can be frustrating at times, but whether you recognize the improvements or not, they’re happening. According to Amazon, in January there were 135 ‘skills’ Alexa could accomplish. By September, this number has increased to 3,000!
As you can imagine, this ‘trend’ isn’t going away. Soon, it won’t be a trend at all; consumers and marketers alike will adapt as the technology evolves to make our lives easier and businesses more profitable.
As we continue to embrace and create new uses for AI, let’s enjoy ourselves and keep our fingers crossed that Hal never locks us out of the bay door, or The Terminator shows up at our office!