Emerging artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are already changing the way most industries operate. For marketers, the technology’s potential to predict what customers want in a way that has never existed before is already having a profound effect on the way they do business.
AI and ML (machine learning) have been around in one form or another for the past decade, but take-up has been relatively slow, due in part to the standard of the products and services on offer and the lack of perceived benefits to marketers.
However, like much in the digital world, the technology is evolving at a rapid speed and marketers need to be prepared for the next technological evolution/revolution if they want to fully capitalise on its opportunities. This is going to require preparation and those that are thinking ahead of the curve can capitalise in the same way that brands and marketers who were first movers on mobile and app services have been able to.
Big data converges with smarter, faster machines
AI is a potential godsend for marketers as it promises the ability to teach machines to spit out the exact information they need at any given time, which in turn will greatly simplify and improve the quality of the services their customers want.
There is much fear mongering in the marketing community about the consequences of AI, but machines are not scary, complex or expensive to implement. AI and ML have supercharged Adobe products, such as Adobe Target and Creative Cloud, to sort data and deliver actionable insights that are accessible to the entire business — not just the analytics team.
Some AI platforms have already achieved widespread adoption, with programs such as Google Assistant, SIRI, Amazon and Facebook Messenger deploying AI-driven bots to anticipate customer desires and personalise advertising to some extent.
Below are just some of the ways AI will infiltrate the world of marketing over the next decade. Some of these technologies are still in their formative stages and the possibilities for improvement are boundless, judging by advances made by things such as handset and tablet technology in recent years.
Predicting what customers want
One example of the impact AI is having is the predictive analytics used by companies such as Netflix to target its customer recommendations. Using a clustering algorithm, it is constantly fine-tuning its suggestions by analysing thousands of factors and matching broad customer behaviour patterns with those of individual members.
Personal stylists now exist online who can offer you clothing recommendations based on your size, budget and tastes. Improvements in messaging and chatbots – virtual stylists that use analytics to de-termine a consumer’s tastes and preferences – are making this possible, and the stylist doesn’t even need to be human. Rue21, a specialty teen apparel retailer, has already launched a chatbot for its online customer base. AI technologies such as this will continue to greatly simplify and personalise consumers’ shopping experiences going forward.
Generating content, advanced image and voice recognition
Generating content based on data information is still a bit rough around the edges, but platforms such as Wordsmith are already being used to generate basic news articles from things such as financial and weather reports. This type of automated content production based on structured data is likely to evolve into content generation from unstructured data, allowing marketers to personalise content and deliver their messages across multiple platforms with relative speed and precision.
Similarly, image recognition technology, used by Google Photos, Snapchat Face Swap and Facebook, already recognises faces and in the future will provide the basis for far more sophisticated content searching and personalisation of customer experiences.
Voice recognition technology has also made great advances over the past few years, and industry heavyweights such as Google and Facebook are awake to its possibilities and have invested large amounts into its program development.
Things such as recorded voice messages and 1800 numbers will likely go the way of the Walkman and black and white televisions in the not-too-distant future, once again opening up a vast array of possibilities for marketers to personalise their services.
By Scott Rigby
Scott has 17 years of digital experience and currently provide strategic recommendations to enterprise businesses in digital marketing, analytics, channel optimization, customer insight and business transformation.