4 interesting ways artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the way brands connect

20 years ago, robotic artificial intelligence was reserved for the world of sci-fi. Demonised as an enemy force capable of extinguishing the entire human race, the thought of a prolific artificial presence was a scary one.

Fast forward to today and we’re more comfortable, familiar and welcoming of AI. Chances are you won’t make it through the day without multiple touchpoints with a ‘bot’ in some form. What we’re witnessing is a pinnacle moment for AI, with Gartner predicting that by 2020, AI will be a top 5 investment priority for more than 20% of CIOs.

So how does this play out for brands, and more importantly, their marketing resources?

Robots are now being trained to think, understand context and solve problems – just like humans. The gap is slowly becoming tightened between large data set analysis and understanding intent, meaning AI is moving from simple repetitive, mundane and hazardous activities, to more complex tasks such as creating content, recognising faces and predicting the future. So, does this mean humans will become obsolete?

I don’t think that’s something we will have to worry about just yet. I mean, who will programme them, maintain them, and carry out tasks that require intense creative thinking? They can’t do everything. But they can do a lot, and the wider term – AI – is becoming more of a permanent fixture in the way brands connect with their customers online and out in the real world. Its applications throughout the e-commerce and marketing world are beyond anything we could’ve imagined.

In this post, we’re going to look at how artificial intelligence is being used by brands to build relationships, nurture customers and connect with audiences online.

The avatar influencer – artificial intelligence

I’ve already mentioned how creepy robots can be. Maybe that’s just me. But if you haven’t yet come across the influencer avatar, brace yourself for a whole new level of creepy. These are prolific social media stars who have amassed millions of followers, they advertise products for brands, promote clothing lines and even advocate for social and political change, but hauntingly, they’re not real people. Could this be the future of Artificial Intelligence?

The influencer avatar is a computer-generated avatar with a social media presence. An artist creates the avatar and places them in real-life situations for the sake of an aesthetically interesting social media post. Paris Fashion Week on Monday, Sydney Opera House by Tuesday morning. Blonde hair, dark hair, long hair short hair – great for the vanity plagued Instagram platform. The impossible has suddenly become possible.

They’re completely fictious. Yet they have names, ages, genders, political leanings, fashion preferences and of course, are prolific brand advocates. @LilMiquela is one example – as one of the first computer generated influences. She boasts 1.5 million Instagram followers and promotes high end fashion brands such as Prada and Gucci, while advocating for social and political change.

We’re just scratching the service of the potential of the computer-generated influencer. If brands can essentially create their own ‘face’ for their brand, will this eliminate the need of the ‘real-life influencer’ entirely?

Customer service

Business Insider estimates that 80% of businesses will have a Chatbot by 2020.

Artificial Intelligence is no stranger to customer service. Chat bots are now built with algorithmic-generated responses based on keywords used by the customer, and most of the time the responses are helpful and satisfactory. Plus, they essentially eliminate the need for humans in communication teams. The benefit? Humans can spend more time on the nitty gritty – the creative: product development, innovation and design. This affords brands a whole new level of creative resource. But it also makes for swifter, personalised and more successful customer service (most of the time).

WordPress now offers some great chatbot extensions, but we can go further than this. Direct mail can be tweaked based on purchase and viewing history – cookies can be used to personalise content. Personalisation is key in the customer experience, and AI can form personalised experiences effortlessly.

Product and content suggestions

You’ll most certainly have been subject to product suggestions during an online shopping experience. Based on previous search history or purchase history, algorithms will present you with related products, content and targeted ads in the hope of enhancing the overall user experience. And the success is in the numbers: customers approve.

52% of customers would share their data if it meant they could receive personalised recommendations. And brands who have implemented personalised recommendations have seen a 6-10% gain in sales – at a rate which is 2-3 times faster than other retailers.

Without recent advancements data analysis and comprehension, AI would not be capable of such accurate suggestions.

Sentiment analysis of articial intelligence

Conversational language is by nature, multi-faceted. It contains pragmatic, social and semantic aspects. But advanced AI is today capable of tapping into lexical semantics and sentiment analysis, understanding the context and attitude of conversations. Brands have begun leveraging this technology to monitor conversations taking place across social platforms concerning their brand or industry. The comprehension of lexical semantics means AI can now determine the meaning and sentiment behind certain word chains, and the attitude and emotions behind them.

This kind of AI activity is extremely valuable as a part of social listening exercises, enabling brands to create more focused and targeted campaigns. Great marketing is about knowing what customers want. And this data is more readily available to use than ever before.

Plus, AI is capable of working non-interrupted, with higher volumes of content meaning more can be done in less time. A powerful step for campaign marketing and something we should expect to see a lot more of in coming years.

The proliferation of Artificial Intelligence across all sectors is undeniable. But it’s exciting to see how well-received it’s been throughout the digital marketing sector. I believe this is just the beginning, and that soon, a large proportion of our daily tasks will be delegated to machines and algorithms, giving us the time and resource to focus on innovation.

It’s hard to say what the future will look like, but I hope it to be one where we live and work alongside robots in harmony. For now, I’ll steer clear of old school sci-fi. I might not sleep tonight otherwise.

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Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright
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