January 16, 2017
Artificial intelligence has already infiltrated consumer lives. Snapchat leverages machine learning to face-swap; Toyota has announced $1 billion in research while Tesla pioneers self-driving cars; auto-pilot has been improving its intelligence for decades to make the skies safer. With large sets of data and algorithms to support its growth, AI is at a point where it can solve some real problems better than humans can; marketing, both B2B and B2C, is no exception. 2016 was the year that data, the lifeblood of AI, turned into the resource that generated creativity. Below are some examples that set us up for 2017 to be the year we harness it.
In September 2016, Google Analytics announced automated insights in the latest release of its product. Using machine learning, Google Analytics can now find trends amongst the thousands of metrics and dimensions to reveal potentially meaningful connections and actionable insights on customer behavior. It goes beyond reporting to view findings in five minutes what might have taken hours and many analysts to discover.
In site design
Companies like Grid and Wix are introducing AI in consumer friendly ways. Wix’s AI asks a few questions, including the business and its name. Its AI then searches for all relevant information about the business across the Internet to generate a website that suits its needs. It might suggest a blog, a commerce component, or a particular widget for social. The best part? If a customer is dissatisfied, Wix allows for manual coding to customize the site.
In purchase intent
Booking.com leverages AI in its mobile platform by introducing instant booking and personalized preferences. In 2016, it released ‘Booking Experiences,’ a tool that predicts users’ travel intent and provides a customized experience with streamlined payment options and priority benefits for return users.
In customer interface
Chatbots made a big leap in presence the past year, but not enough progress to take the industry by storm. There has been a few successful introductions in the retail space, including Everlane’s Facebook Messenger Chatbot as well as businesses such as Kensho Technologies, a provider of next-generation investment analytics. Its system allows investment managers to ask investment-related questions in plain English, such as, “What sectors and industries perform best three months before and after a rate hike?” and get answers within minutes.
Not only will AI augment marketers’ work in reaching customers one-on-one, but it will also enable internal teams to interact with intelligent machines in collegial ways, through conversation or other intuitive interfaces. AI will be an always-available assistant and adviser to consumers and colleagues alike.
However, many useful decisions require insight beyond what artificial intelligence can squeeze from data alone. Marketers leverage their institutional knowledge of the company as well as their aesthetic and brand stewardship as well as consumer empathy to help decision-making. This experience, empathy, and stewardship are the essence of creative guidance — the application of experience and expertise to decisions and practices. This can also be applied to broader management as well. Great marketers (and managers) can sense a shift in direction and know when to apply creative thinking and data to solve problems. Marketers must also leverage design thinking to bring the best of analytical and creative thinking together, especially as it relates to experimentation and the test and learn methodology that the framework of experimentation brings. Then, we can make the most of the artificial intelligence revolution upon us.
Becky Wang is a lead digital strategist and author of the new book Creativity and Data Marketing, to be published by Kogan Page in January 2017. Purchase your copy here: https://www.koganpage.com/product/creativity-and-data-marketing-9780749477240