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Part Three - Artificial Intelligence: Four exciting ways AI will continue to make a big impact in 2018
AI continues to be the hottest topic in digital transformation. Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning has sparked debates and created great buzz.
AI is not just hype, in fact AI is so hot that researcher Alexandre Robicquet was featured in Yves Saint Laurent’s brilliant Y campaign.
AI functions seamlessly in our daily lives
We can’t review AI without first looking at its impact in our day to day lives.
AI has made an impact on society in many ways such as the way we work, communicate and make decisions. AI is already a part of daily life from relying on google assistants, smart cars, smart homes, healthcare apps, security systems, banking, video games, movie recommendations, social platforms, news, online customer support and more.
In terms of work, there is some anxiety regarding AI and jobs. Machines may eliminate some jobs but according to research from Accenture and Frontier Economics, AI could deliver a 38 percent improvement in worker productivity by 2035.
AI and customer experience
Marketers and businesses have access to vast amounts of data on customers. AI delivers significant insights on customer behaviour and expectations. Companies such as Netflix and Amazon are able to make powerful recommendations to their customers based on past behaviour and future expectations.
Algorithms and software bots are proving to be efficient in analysing customer preferences and biases. The exciting potential for marketers is the power to create customer engagement based on each customer’s purchasing path and individual preferences. Creating excellent customer experience is key for long term business success and brand growth.
Chatbots are efficient in responding to customer requests, taking orders on Facebook Messenger, replying to comments and queries on social media. Chatbots can learn from each customer interaction by gathering information and predicting expectations. This information can be used to offer solutions, marketing promotions and advertising based on the customer’s requirements.
Research shows that consumers don’t care if they are speaking to a person or software bot, as long as they are receiving fast and efficient service.
Intelligently integrating messaging tools such as Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp can streamline the customer journey by providing highly personalised customer experiences. Facebook recently introduced Messenger plugins for business websites. Messenger reaches an impressive 1.2 billion monthly users and is growing. The Messenger platform supports features like payments, bots that understand natural language, rich media and more. Even after leaving the company website, customers can still continue or view their conversation from their phone or tablet, using their Messenger app.
Algorithms and big data
We are seeing more rapid advancements in AI with some remarkable accomplishments. Google’s AlphaGo Zero recently trained itself entirely on its own without human input through reinforcement learning. In an interview in Nature, AlphaGo researchers explained, “it’s all very well to train AIs on human decisions, but the datasets derived from human experts are often expensive, unreliable or simply unavailable.” According to the researchers, “by contrast, reinforcement learning systems are trained from their own experience, in principle allowing them to exceed human capabilities, and to operate in domains where human expertise is lacking.” Nature.com
The reason why this is significant is the fact that AI systems could develop superhuman capabilities, as proven in AlphaGo Zero’s example.
Big players such as Microsoft, Facebook, IBM and Amazon have also been trying to develop new ways to leverage algorithm based AI systems. Facebook for example uses graph analysis and indexing to analyse and serve up photos via Photo Search to its billions of users.
Amazon uses AI to create personalisation and predict customer behaviour, which enables the giant retailer to make valid recommendations. Amazon recently invested in a new research centre in Germany with a focus on developing AI to enhance customer experience, especially in visual systems. “With our Amazon Research centre in Tübingen, we will become part of one of the largest research initiatives in Europe in the area of artificial intelligence. This underlines our commitment to create high-skilled jobs in breakthrough technologies,” explained Ralf Herbrich, director of machine learning at Amazon and MD of the Amazon Development Centre Germany.
Artificial intelligence meets virtual reality
Virtual reality provides an exciting immersive experience and let’s face it, people enjoy the momentary escape from reality. We are always seeking new experiences from the latest Hollywood movie, adventure travel, alcohol consumption, playing video games etc.
According to Dave Ranyard, “advances in artificial intelligence could be most significantly enjoyed through the use of virtual reality.” Ranyard, the Dream Reality Interactive founder spoke at the Nordic Game Conference, where he explained, "I believe VR and AR are going to be our interface to AI. In terms of storytelling, that's amazing.”
The popular Oculus Rift has provided us with an introduction into a virtual reality experience.
Oculus Rift advertises, “Rift is unlike anything you've ever experienced. Whether you're stepping into your favourite game, watching an immersive VR film, jumping to a destination on the other side of the world or just spending time with friends in VR, you'll feel like you're really there.” Step into Rift
The opportunities that AI technology is creating seems endless. AI is helping to create more productive businesses, transforming health care, managing decisions, automating mundane tasks, providing efficient customer service, acting as personal assistants, winning at the game of chess, creating music and so much more. It seems as though there is nothing that AI will not be able to do in the future.
Read more on the exciting topic of AI
How Artificial Intelligence is changing how we live, how we do business and how we market
Meet the first humanoid robot citizen - Sophia
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Many marketers and brands find themselves in a state of flux when it comes to keeping up with changing algorithms, developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and emerging digital trends.
Being agile, adapting fast and planning ahead, are key factors for digital marketing success. I suggest you start with the right strategic plan and then review what marketing tactics you need to look at in 2018.
Here are the top rising digital trends that are making an impact
Traditional advertising such as static banners and pop-ups have not yet been abandoned by marketers but are often seen as annoying to many users. Native ads are a smarter way to effectively communicate a message because the information can be integrated into user content. Strategically embedding content that looks organic and is relevant has higher rates of readership.
Make your native ads stand out with engaging images and the right headings. Native ads work especially well on mobile and tablet devices. Research shows that click through rates for premium native ads on mobile gadgets have four times higher engagement compared to display ads. Native ads provide a seamless experience where users are not directly interrupted by your ad and taken to another site.
A key example of successful native advertising was Taco Bell’s sponsored Snapchat Lens Cinco de Mayo campaign. The campaign set the record with 224 million views in one day, as reported by Adweek. You don’t need a big budget like Taco Bell’s but with interesting and relevant content you will most likely receive higher engagement from users for native ads.
Social Media Marketing
More than 70 percent of adults between 18 to 65 are using social media. Facebook has two billion monthly users, making it the most influential social media channel. Instagram Stories has 250 million daily users. Social media is not just a medium to share photos and stories, users look for product reviews, business information, networking and news updates on social sites.
Social media is evolving into a more serious and mature platform that is constantly changing. There are algorithms that change, best times to promote content, targeting ads and optimisation tactics that come into play for social marketing success.
Here are few tactics for social media marketing
Captivate with visual content – When people hear information, they are likely to remember only 10 percent of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people will retain 65 percent of the information three days later. Use interesting, eye grabbing images to get your message and content across. Include GIFs when appropriate to get attention.
Be responsive – Always be ready to engage with your audience and customers on social channels. Offer the right promotion at the right moment. Respond in real-time when a potential customer asks a question. Acknowledge customer feedback whether it is positive or negative.
Increase brand presence – Use various channels such as paid, earned and owned content to target the right message to the right audience on the right platform. Use data to see what is working with your audience and understand their expectations. Build relevant ads and content that increases engagement and response rates.
Engage with live video streaming – Live video streaming will continue to see growth and momentum. Live video presents an opportunity to connect with your audience and draw them in as events are happening right at the moment. Live videos make the relationship with your customers seem more personal and builds brand awareness.
Use data analytics to measure and improve - We have seen a data revolution made possible by cloud storage and advanced algorithms. Data has become available from many different sources in smarter formats. Use data to customise, analyse and optimise your social marketing initiatives. Analyse where your target audience is spending time and create tailored engagement on those specific channels. Invest some time in researching and monitoring your social media engagement.
Influencer marketing will continue to be effective in 2018
For many marketers, measuring the success of influencer campaigns can be challenging, however it is an effective way to increase engagement and reach a niche audience. Influencer campaigns work because influencers have built credibility within their target base. Influencers tend to endorse and review products in an authentic manner because they want to maintain a credible relationship with their follower base.
Partnering with influencers means brands can increase their target reach with an already engaged audience. An example of a key influencer is DJ Khaled who cracked the platform Snapchat. DJ Khaled gained a huge follower base after his success on Snapchat, where his snaps receive an average of three million views.
Old navy engaged the comedy and lifestyle enthusiast, Meghan Rienks, who has 1.3 million Instagram followers and 2 million subscribers on YouTube. Old navy teamed up with Rienks for a campaign where she showed her audience how to dress for occasions such as date nights and parties. According to eMarketer, advertisers spent $570 million on Instagram influencers in 2016 and they intend to increase influencer budgets going forward.
Personalise content marketing - Marketing success is about standing out, increasing user engagement and staying relevant. Personalising content is an effective way to engage your audience and increase viewership. Creating informative content can set you apart as a leader in your industry and especially impress potential customers who are looking for trust. According to HubSpot, smart content is “content that is intelligently personalised to your customer’s needs.” Research shows that 61 percent of customers trust a company that creates more personalised content and this influences their decisions to buy.
Tip: Create personalised call to actions such as the example below from a retail brand.
Create interaction with Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)
AI technology has provided an opportunity for users to interact with brands in an immersive and layered context. AR and VR are offering creative experiences for users to actively engage with brands. Many industries are creating immersive experiences to engage with their audience. AR is exciting, social, engaging and personal, it integrates virtual content into the real world. Marketers and businesses are adapting AR to enhance brand engagement by finding new ways to interact with their audiences based on creating immersive experiences. Here are some AR examples: Lowe's Holoroom, IKEA's Augmented Reality Catalogue.
Marketing has become more interactive and sophisticated. Digital technology is impacting how brands communicate, innovate and engage with their target market. Marketers live in a fast-paced, ever changing world, where the right digital tactics are key for marketing success. In 2018, we can expect another exciting year with more changes to algorithms, emerging social trends, AI, big data and more.
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Part two: The hot topic of Artificial Intelligence – it is revolutionising how we live, how we do business and how we market
My first article provided an overview of what Artificial Intelligence (AI) is and how it is transforming business, marketing and how we live. To recap, AI is based on creating machines that can think like humans. We are seeing many new developments in AI at an alarming fast pace and with greater efficiency.
The hot topic of AI recently sparked a public dispute between Tech titans Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg. Musk remarked that the Facebook CEO, Zuckerberg, has “limited” knowledge of the AI field. Musk, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO, has been pushing for proactive regulation of AI which he believes is a “fundamental risk to the existence of civilization.” Zuckerberg denounced the warnings as “pretty irresponsible” and “negative.”
We can’t really predict if humanity will face an epic terminator type of robot takeover, however according to Musk, “until people see robots going down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react, because it seems so ethereal.”
What is remarkable is that AI based machines are learning on their own from examples and a system of feedback. Machines can keep improving their systems without human input and are instead solving their own problems.
How machine learning is evolving
Machine learning has mainly advanced in two categories – cognition and perception. For example, voice recognition systems such as Siri, Alexa, Echo and Google assistant, have become three times as fast as typing on a cell phone, with accurate results. Machine learning systems are also proving to be highly efficient digital learners.
Google researchers are working on a new approach that will add an imagination-based system to AI. DeepMind has the potential to include imagination to its planning. “We have seen some tremendous results in this area - particularly in programs like AlphaGo, which use an ‘internal model’ to analyse how actions lead to future outcomes in order to reason and plan. These internal models work so well because environments like Go are ‘perfect’ - they have clearly defined rules which allow outcomes to be predicted very accurately in almost every circumstance.” - Deepmind.com
A recent development from the Facebook AI Research Lab (FAIR), received much excitement in the media when their chatbots started creating and conversing with each other in their own language. The bots evolved from the standard scripts and started communicating in an entirely new language, which they created on their own without any human input. Facebook has since corrected the experiment and we will most likely see more developments in the future when machines don’t follow scripts. The interesting fact here is that Facebook is developing bots that have reasoning capabilities and can negotiate in conversations.
AI in business is already seeing a transformational impact in many industries including health care, retail, manufacturing, travel, finance, education, marketing, law, insurance and more. AI is driving change in business processes, models and occupational tasks.
Here are a few examples of AI impacting industries
Amazon is the world’s largest internet-based retailer by total sales, serving millions of customers across the world. At present, there are approximately 80 million Amazon Prime members making up 64 percent of all households in the United States. Amazon reportedly has 45,000 robots across its 20 fulfilment centres, in conjunction with its 230,000 employees. Amazon Robotics has goals to automate its fulfilment centres by taking advantage of technologies in mobile, robots, drones, control software, language perception, depth sensing systems, machine learning, object and speech recognition.
In health care, machine learning systems can scan and identify various health problems such as potential cancer cells. This frees-up time for health care professionals to focus on other areas such as critical cases, taking care of patients and coordinating with other physicians.
In the financial sector, machine learning is being used in cybersecurity to detect malware, prevent fraud and money laundering. Machine learning/AI is also being used to decide trades on Wall Street, reviewing of loan contracts and analysing credit risks.
AI has the potential to reach superhuman levels of performance in many areas, according to experts. We are already seeing AI in various spheres of business from sales forecasting, HR decisions such as whom to hire, predicting customer needs and expectations. AI and machine learning is based on data and algorithms and these systems are becoming more available to businesses. Microsoft, Google and Salesforce are few examples of companies that provide AI infrastructure via the cloud for businesses.
AI in day-to-day life
If you are using social media, digital personal assistants, google maps, self-driving cars, online banking and shopping, you are already interacting with an AI based system.
A key development in AI is the improvement of image recognition. Image recognition is being used in many areas such as replacing identity cards, social media, self-driving cars and more. When you post a photo with friends on Facebook and other apps, the image is often recognised with people's names popping up and prompting you to tag them.
Google has a Cloud Vision API that enables “developers to understand the content of an image by encapsulating powerful machine learning models in an easy to use REST API. It quickly classifies images into thousands of categories (e.g., "sailboat", "lion", "Eiffel Tower"), detects individual objects and faces within images, and finds and reads printed words contained within images.’’
AI is creating news content, social media prompts and targeted advertising. Many news outlets are using AI to generate news stories, especially for Sports segments. AI content writing programs use vast amounts of data and then structure the information into a ‘human sounding’ article. The AI based program, WordSmith, produced 1.5 billion pieces of content in 2016.
Facebook uses AI to personalise newsfeeds and customise posts based on the individual user’s interests. Facebook’s DeepText “can understand with near-human accuracy the textual content of several thousand posts per second, spanning more than 20 languages.” DeepText can predict user intent, for example, you may want to order a pizza based on what you typed on messenger. You typed “I am hungry” and DeepText predicts you want to order pizza based on your profile analytics. DeepText can analyse information and provide content you are likely to be most interested in.
A positive prediction is that AI will be used in the future to reduce commuting with self-driving cars, ride sharing and smart traffic lights. Experts claim that efficient ride sharing will reduce road traffic by up to 75 percent.
There are many more specific areas where AI is impacting daily life. For example, in the gaming industry and hobbies such as chess. AI has many capabilities and is most likely to become even more integrated into daily life.
Three key ways AI is helping in marketing
Smarter customer journey mapping
AI is creating a more relevant and timely customer journey and interaction based on the individual customer’s requirements. AI is effective in analysing vast amounts of data and algorithms to map out customer patterns. The exciting thing about AI for marketers is that it is making it easier to create customer engagement based on each customer’s purchasing path and individual preferences.
AI is helping to:
“Content marketing is no longer a numbers game. It’s a game of relevance.” ~ Jason Miller
You are most likely familiar with the adage in social media marketing, “Content is King.” This is true when you add a relevant message, on the right channel and at the right time. AI is enabling marketers to target specific messages and content that is relevant and interesting to the individual consumer.
Based on behaviours and preferences, AI systems can help deliver the right message, promotion, solution and product recommendation to each individual. Many companies such as Amazon and Netflix have recommendation systems that prompts the user to check “recommendations” and see what else they maybe “interested in.”
Content curation enables higher engagement on mobile, websites, social media, online shopping, email and digital newsletters by showing content that is specific to the consumer.
There are many content marketing tools available. Platforms such as Salesforce and HubSpot also provide data to help marketers build on customer personas. It is becoming easier to create targeted content, offer the right promotions on the right digital platforms, optimise websites, create mobile apps, and personalise promotional emails due to AI based systems that track user patterns.
How AI is changing customer interaction with brands
AI based chatbots have evolved into understanding natural language without input and direct commands. These external-facing customer agents are proving to be effective in managing large volumes of customer inquiries and responding to requests. Customer response and satisfaction is key for any business or brand, especially in this digital era where brand image ranks high.
Companies such as GE are using machine-learning based systems to help manage customer service requests. GE’s SmartAssist.io system recently raised $5M Series A for its AI-based customer service platform. According to SmartAssist’s CEO, Pradeep Rathinam, “the SmartAssist team plans to expand its service to also support chat-based customer service systems — millennials don’t exactly enjoy picking up the phone to talk to a customer service agent.” Read this article to learn more about SmartAssist.
Chatbots have various features such as responding to customer requests, taking orders on Facebook Messenger, replying to comments and queries on social media. An exciting feature of chatbots is its predictive capabilities. Chatbots can learn from each customer interaction by gathering information and predicting expectations. This information can be used to offer solutions, marketing promotions and advertising based on the customer’s requirements.
Using bots for superior customer engagement, increasing sales and brand engagement
At this year’s F8 conference, Facebook VP of messaging products, David Marcus pointed out “People prefer to use Messenger to interact with companies.” At the conference, Marcus mentioned many companies have increased orders, bookings, sales and productivity due to Facebook Messenger bots. With 1.2 billion active monthly users on Facebook Messenger and 65 million active businesses on Facebook, it is no surprise that Facebook Messenger bots are an effective tool to scale business.
Bots on social platforms are providing an option of instant messaging rather than waiting on the phone for a customer agent or an email response. “Messaging with businesses is on the rise, with over 2 billion messages sent between people and businesses — including automated conversations — each month,” according to Kemal El Moujahid, product manager, Messenger.
“Artificial intelligence will reach human levels by around 2029. Follow that out further to, say in 2045, we will have multiplied the intelligence, the human biological machine intelligence of our civilization a billion-fold.” — Ray Kurzweil
The subject of AI is so vast and open to debate. What is definite is that AI is in a remarkable growth phase. According to the Analyst Firm, Research and Markets, the global AI market will grow to $23.4 billion by 2025. AI is set to transform the future. Read my article to learn more.
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What exactly is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
AI as a concept has gone far beyond sci-fi machines made popular on TV shows such as Star Trek. AI has seen some dramatic changes recently. AI is still based on creating machines that can think like humans, however we have seen some major advances in this field. AI is a system of machine intelligences that can perform tasks with the capacity of a basic thought process similar to computers and binary logic.
AI technology is already impacting our lives with the use of smart cars, video gaming, virtual assistants, news creation, surveillance, smart homes, wearable technology and more.
How AI is shaping the future
On a personal level people have already assimilated with AI on a day-to-day basis from smartphones, smart cars, banking, smart home devices and wearables. For example, most of us rely on car navigation systems for directions when looking for the nearest restaurant or gas station. The use of such technologies and our reliance on such systems is going to grow exponentially as we see more advances in AI.
Virtual personal assistants – AI is able to gather information on your requests based on your speech and then give you results that are specific to your preferences. It is a system that can learn about its users. In the future AI will also predict its user’s needs. A key example is Microsoft Cortana that is able to go through vast amounts of data to organise, track and analyse its user’s preferences and tailor results to meet the user’s specific request.
Example: Cortana, Siri and Google Now are digital personal assistants that use your voice to provide you with information that you requested. It could be asking what meetings you have scheduled that day or where the next Starbucks coffee shop is. Your virtual assistant will find the information you asked for and deliver it via your phone, apps, in-car systems etc.
Another interesting example is how AI played a role in the Trump election campaign. Cambridge Analytica provided an AI based system for the Trump campaign. Their system gathered vast amounts of data about consumers and their lifestyles. This enabled psychographic profiles of American voters. Information and data gathering by companies like Cambridge Analytica means we now have access to huge amounts of data about almost anything we need insights on.
The big data and machine learning revolution
“Machine learning is the science of getting computers to act without being programmed, and is used in autonomous cars, speech-recognition and internet search engines…” Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos, Amazon.
AI is impacting nearly all industries from health, travel, banking, security, business and service industries. For example, in healthcare AI is already being used to design treatment plans and with digital data Doctors can access all the information they need to make important decisions.
AI and machine learning is largely dependent on accessing vast amounts of data. This digital data is now available on various cloud based applications. In addition to this, companies such as Baidu, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM and Google have created machine learning platforms. All these factors are going to revolutionise AI technology and what we are seeing is just the beginning stage.
How AI is changing business and marketing
AI is like a mega brain that can crunch through big data within seconds. What makes this so exciting for marketers is that the information provided is fast, precise, personal and reliable. AI takes us to another level of social engineering where content and marketing messages are easily adaptable to what works best on a specific type of audience. Research from Demandbase reveals that eighty percent of marketing leaders feel AI will revolutionise marketing by 2020.
We can see why Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) have one of the most challenging jobs in the corporate world. Russell Reynolds did a study that indicated CMOs and their teams face intense pressure in this fast-paced digital era based on technological disruption. However, adapting to these changes fast will enable marketers and businesses to scale for growth.
According to a CB insights report, the company Amazon is getting started on newer initiatives like cloud services, artificial intelligence, and logistics to take its business to the next level. “Amazon is the exception to nearly every rule in business. Rising from humble beginnings as a Seattle-based internet bookstore, Amazon has grown into a propulsive force in at least five different giant industries: retail, logistics, consumer technology, cloud computing, and most recently, media and entertainment.” CB Insights
Here are four key examples of AI in marketing
AI-powered machines can create targeted content – Using language processing, AI can analyse user interests and geography to create copy that is relevant to the target audience. It is remarkable to see content generated by AI machines precisely for its users based on psychographics. In addition to creating content at scale, AI is helping streamline the content creation process and also reducing costs. This allows marketers to spend time on other strategies to help accelerate business growth.
AI and search engines – Many marketers can agree search algorithms can be tricky to manage with targeting the right keyword phrases, titles and alt tags to rank at the top of search results. AI search engine optimisation will be more streamlined based on user experiences and big data to produce precise results. A key example is Google’s RankBrain that uses machine learning to process its search results and queries. The RankBrain AI based system can guess what words or phrases might have similar meanings in order to filter and deliver precise search results.
Ad targeting – Machine learning is able to provide more in-depth analysis of user behaviours, preferences and rising trends. Ads can then be served according to a recommendation system that targets specific ads that are relevant to the target audience. For example, programmatic ads will be more likely to achieve user engagement and clicks since the content will match user preferences based on demographics. AI also makes optimisation of ads more efficient based on algorithms that can help achieve the best cost per acquisition (CPA) from the available data.
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR): AI technology has provided an opportunity for users to interact with brands in an immersive and layered context. AR and VR are offering creative experiences for users to actively engage with brands. For example, the Pokémon GO AR app was a huge success and we are seeing the demand for AR go beyond gaming. Many industries are creating immersive experiences to engage with their audience. This has been effective in education, travel, health, architecture and retail. AR is exciting, social, engaging and personal, it integrates virtual content into the real world. Marketers and businesses are adapting AR to enhance brand engagement by finding new ways to interact with their audiences based on creating immersive experiences. Here are some AR examples: Lowe's Holoroom, IKEA's Augmented Reality Catalog, Lego X
There are many more areas in which AI is impacting businesses and marketing, such as language recognition, website design, sales forecasting, customer service chatbots, product pricing, preventing fraud, data security and more.
Artificial intelligence and the digital revolution is transforming businesses and the way we live quite dramatically. There will be challenges for adapting to these new technologies at such a fast pace but there are also great opportunities being presented for creating more efficient systems and achieving more growth.