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MARKETING:Four Ways Artificial Intelligence Will Disrupt Marketing
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Four Ways Artificial Intelligence Will Disrupt Marketing

By Justin Toy

BT 201607 110 01 Marketing 001The words Artificial Intelligence (AI) can conjure up images of cyborgs, robots, and dystopian futures like in Terminator or Matrix series. However, these images of AI don't really reflect what AI is or where it is heading. We can see some of the recent progress of AI in self-driving cars and Go-playing computers which have recently grabbed the public's attention. However, it is AI's potential to dramatically improve cost/benefit equations that has CIOs looking into how AI might alter the business tha they are in and potentially disrupt the types of systems they use.

At the center of AI is what is known as machine learning. Machine learning refers to the ability to program a computer to recognize patterns and build models that let it make decisions or generate predictions. The use of machine learning algorithms in business is not new. They have been powering the recommendation engines you see on Amazon and spam filters that appear in your email inbox for a number of years already.

What is new is that several factors have converged to facilitate an explosion in the capabilities of machine learning. The first factor is raw horsepower. Recently it has been discovered that Graphics Processing Units or GPUs, number-crunching chips built for video games, are very well suited for incredible computation power necessary for complicated algorithms used by machine learning models. The second converge is the ability to store large amounts of data. And the third is the huge, escalating volume of data itself. Machine learning models thrive on copious amounts of data which help train them to make more accurate calculations and predictions.

BT 201607 110 02 Marketing 001Artificial neural networks, which imitate the functioning of human brain, have been around for decades. But with the convergences mentioned above, machine learning algorithms have recently evolved into extremely powerful "cognitive systems" capable of learning complicated tasks such as playing the difficult board game "Go" (and beating a grandmaster) without even being "taught" how to play the game (See Google's Deepmind for more details). These advancements have enabled advanced functions such as natural language processing and image recognition. As AI's capabilities have grown, so has its use in business.

In financial services and insurance industries, machine learning models are being used for "predictive analytics," which have helped to improve forecasting, recommendations, and risk analysis. Many high-tech firms, including Google and Uber, owe a large part of their success to insight-generating, machine-learning-powered systems. HR departments are using AI-based tools to support their expanding responsibilities. Facebook has just developed a Bot store to help businesses take advantage of chat bots that can act as customer service representatives for sales or with simple troubleshooting. Let us take a deeper look into how AI and machine learning will come to affect marketing in the near future.


BT 201607 110 03 Marketing 001Constant access to customers through big data and mobile technologies is changing the way that marketers think about market segmentation. The instant access to services and products, particularly through smartphone apps and online services, along with advancements in predictive analytics, are arming marketers with big data that can target small groups of users who share unique characteristics. Marketers are not just limited to segmenting customers by traditional demographics (age, gender, region, etc.), customers can also be sorted on the basis of their habits, activity levels, purchasing frequency, and many other attributes. As such, nano-segmentation of audience will lead to more unique one-to-one interactions with customers and is no longer a tactic restricted to high end industries such as luxury fashion.

Highly Personalised Customer Interactions

BT 201607 110 04 Marketing 001As AI stands to alter the way that companies segment their markets, this technology will also help spark a level of personalisation that would have seemed impossible a short time ago. This application of AI could provide a level of service as dedicated as the role of a personal concierge or virtual assistant (think Siri designed to help troubleshoot with your banking or Uber account). This technology will have an immediate and lasting impact on the way marketers design, measure, and execute their marketing strategies.

Machine learning will have the potential to draw upon a vast amount of past and real-time information, provided by Big Data and the Internet of Things, in order to anticipate customer needs. Imagine a footwear retailer being able to anticipate a customer's ideal pair of shoes before they even enter the store. Or Imagine a customer running late for a dinner booking. The restaurant's AI calculates where the customer is and can also estimate when he will arrive while automatically adjusting the dinner reservation and notifying the customer.

Interactive Marketing Campaigns

BT 201607 110 05 Marketing SomaticMarketers are beginning to utilize a number of AI tools that will allow them to create interactive marketing campaigns like we have never seen before. As companies begin to rollout chatbots (Facebook has a bot store) to handle sales and basic customer service, it is only a matter of time before marketers train these bots to interact with customers in order to tell interactive and captivating stories. Somatic.io is a startup company that promises to deliver a wide assortment of AI tools to marketers (and the masses) that can create art, write stories, and even make music. They are currently building interactive campaigns where customers can upload personal pictures and a deep learning model (dressed up as a celebrity) will comment about what he sees in the image. For example, if you uploaded a picture of yourself drinking a can of a company's soda, the AI will say something like, "I see you're drinking the good stuff!" Going one step further, with current advancements in virtual reality and the release of Occulus, it is easy to imagine a future with immersive advertisements wherein you are the star and your actions and responses dictate what happens.

Cognitive Content

BT 201607 110 06 Marketing 001Persado is a company creating machine learning content. They describe its content-generating platform as "combining machine-learning algorithms with natural language processing to generate the precise combination of words, phrases, and images capable of motivating audiences at scale, and in real time." Their model takes "randomness" out of content design and word selection by deconstructing advertisements into five components; emotion words, characteristics of the product, "call to action", and the position of text and images accompanying it. Perado recombines all these elements into millions of permutations and then extracts the best characteristics into eight or more test emails which are A/B tested with customers. This process allows Persado to efficiently determine the best possible combination. Among the company's customers are American Express, Caesars Entertainment, Microsoft, and Verizon Wireless.


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