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24 October 2017

How AI is changing the face of digital marketing


Today, it seems as though there is no technology trend more talked about than Artificial Intelligence (AI). But despite widespread media coverage, the specifics of AI are often lost, misunderstood, or even unreported. 

Artificial intelligence is typically used as an umbrella term for types of technology that enable machines to mimic human intelligence. This can include the ability to understand and respond to the environment, problem solve and understand human speech. 

Subsets of AI include Machine Learning and Deep Learning, which involve experience-based learning and machines training themselves in complex tasks, respectively. 

One area in which AI is being developed and implemented is within digital marketing and advertising. With digital ad spending overtaking TV ad spending since the end of 2016, advertisers and marketers should be innovating and investing in digital advertising.  

Here are three AI trends digital marketers should be looking out for now and in the near future: 

1. Bots

Bots are programmes that operate autonomously. One popular type of bot is a chatbot, which is able to use human language to communicate with humans. Bots are already used by many brands. In fact, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently claimed that “bots are the new apps”. 

One way in which bots are being used currently is to predict the success and popularity of social media posts. The New York Times used Blossom, an intelligent bot within the messaging app Slack, to predict how articles or blogposts will do on social. 

Facebook posts recommended by Blossom on average have been getting 120% more clicks than non Blossom-powered posts. In the future, more brands may take a technology driven approach to select and promote social posts and even adverts. 

2. Ad personalisation

Personalisation is a huge aspect of digital advertising, with channels allowing for audience segmentation based on interests, demographics and online behaviour. However, effective ad personalisation requires collecting, analysing and interpreting huge amounts of audience data, as well as having the understanding to apply it appropriately. 

Brands and marketers can automate such processes by employing AI technologies to carry out at least the collection and analysis of audience data – it is likely that as computers get smarter, they will be able to interpret and understand such data too. With these machines in place, there should be more time for creative brainstorming and high-level planning (until they can do that too!). 

Our specialist tool the Social Insight Engine (SIE) allows us to collect huge amounts of data on audience interests, demographics and purchase intents – in fact, about 180,000 data points are collected by the SIE. Using the SIE, we can work out clever rules to apply the data to make the right advert content and creative to target the exact right group of people. The SIE is just one example of using big data and applying it intelligently in social advertising. 

3. Image recognition

One of the most exciting and possibly most important developments in AI is image recognition. If we want machines to be able to ‘think’ like us and mimic our ability to respond to our environment, such as in the case of self-driving cars, it is of vital importance that they are also able to ‘see’ like us. 

Computers are now able to identify and recognise simple objects and scenarios. Although these abilities are negligible compared to human vision and perception, these building blocks of computer vision have enabled some important technological developments, and continue to do so. 

For example, Pinterest uses object recognition to identify which products appear in pins that are liked, pinned or re-pinned by users. They then use this technology to boost pins and recommend relevant pins and ads to individual users. 

These examples are just a tiny glimpse into the potential AI has to change our business and marketing approaches, as well as our everyday lives. While the potential and rapid development of these advancements is hugely impressive, there are also concerns and challenges that we should be aware of. These include ethical implications such as data sensitivity, database storage limitations, and many others. 

Ultimately, AI could shape and improve our lives in the near future drastically. In fact, you are probably already being assisted a number of times in your day-to-day life by AI technologies – why not ask Siri? 

Joel Davies is the co-founder of Mighty Social 


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  • Right Brain, Left Brain sums up the dichotomy of a media business that’s constantly battling with the challenge of delivering a profit and discovering new ways to communicate to consumers. The Cream editorial team combined with a dream team of industry pioneers from around the world share their expert opinions.

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