It seems it was a few years ago when I marveled at the epic inventions featured in shows and movies like The Jetsons and Back to the Future. Being a 7-year old in the 90s, I thought that most of them would be real by the time I was 30, far from now.
Well, now I am that age and, even though legit hoverboards and flying cars are still out of reach, many of the gadgets showed as fantasy are very much a reality nowadays, or are closer to become such.
I can certainly say though that the most important technological upgrade of the past couple of years isn’t even tangible on its own, but it surrounds us in everything we do, making our life easier and knowing us in unimaginable ways. I’m not talking about the iPhone; I’m talking about AI.
Without us noticing it, AI has crept into our lives and into almost everything we do. This means that us marketers need to be aware of the latest trends around it and learn how to optimize our current strategies around them. Why? Because the evolution of technology is faster than ever, and even if we live in the most remote location ever and some of these items sound like science fiction, they’re real, and they’re affecting your brand’s marketing efforts right now.
It’s closely linked to the concept of MarTech, which is the inevitable marriage between marketing and technology. It covers almost an infinite sea of areas in the digital world: from content, to social media, relationship building and, of course, data management.
Today, I want to show you four of the most incredible applications of AI in marketing that can really change your game. Remember, this is not the future, this is happening NOW, so start looking into ways to take advantage of them.
1. AI Content Writing
Wait a minute! Am I really about to say that a machine could replace me?
Kind of. One of the most incredible trends we’re seeing in the use of AI is the creation of software that can write a full fledged article in whichever topic you want with almost human accuracy. So, don’t expect any cliche robotic voice from a cartoon. It takes a good pair of eyes to distinguish an AI written piece from one made by a person.
In fact, companies like Wordsmith and Quill offer software that, upon giving them the keywords the post needs, can create text such as listicles, sport matches and even data reports. Even crazier, media companies like the Associated Press are using AI for some of their news content.
How the heck?
This is because of a concept called natural language processing. It’s a field of computer science that, according to MonkeyLearn, combines “the power of artificial intelligence, computational linguistics and computer science, [allowing] a machine to understand natural language, a task that was so far the exclusive privilege of humans.”
It’s precisely this process that allows some of the most commonly used voice search recognition tools like Siri, Cortana and Alexa to sound less robot-y and more human-like when we interact with them. (I’ll talk about them later on).
2. Ad Targeting on ‘roids
In a world where competing for a tiny piece of real estate of our digital user’s attention, making successful advertising that offers good ROI is like striking gold. Right now, our digital ad team spends a good amount of time analyzing our target’s data, seeking for the elusive X factor that can get them closer to their front page.
Using AI for better ad targeting can increase the odds in favor of your brand. I’ll give you an example of it:
You are a clothing brand that sells quirky t-shirts with slogans. Your copywriters have come up with engaging copies for your ads, your designer created some awesome graphics showcasing the shirts, and you already have a tray of coupon codes ready to go. Load all of them in your AI ad wizard, along with the target you’re seeking to reach out, and it’ll pick (or even refine, remember the previous item) the best copy for the best shirt for each target group to see it at the best time.
An example of this is Albert, by Adgorithms. This software is capable of handling the bulk of hard work for a digital marketing campaign. From bidding for the best ad placement, to A/B testing, to optimization to micro or macro targeting, you name it, Albert can do it. Of course this complex machinery comes with a hefty price tag, but it gives you a window on where the future of digital ads is heading.
3. Better Speech Recognition
In 1968, moviegoers who watched Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, felt chills down their spines with this classic quote from this phrase from HAL, the computer assistant of the spaceship in which the film takes place.
(I shouldn’t have to include a spoiler alert for this one. Go watch the film after reading this post, if you haven’t yet)
Since then, voice controlled assistants have evolved from being a conniving red eye on a big screen to something small and portable that many use on a daily basis. Asking Siri or Bixby for the address of a place, telling Alexa to play some epic Strauss or OK Google to tell us when is the first day of fall of 2017.
These four have become more than household names, and we often ask them for suggestions before our flesh and bone friends. As a matter of fact, the way we use them for searching (by asking questions such as “Where can I find a Whole Foods near me?” or “How can I cook asparagus for dinner?”) feeds into these AI devices, as part of their natural language processing.
This is possible thanks to the concept of deep learning, which allows it to constantly improve its behavior around you, taking note of your speech patterns and likes. Why is this important for marketing? Because it’s a game changer for SEO. When 20% of all mobile searches are done by voice, keywords must evolve from loose phrases to adapt a more conversational speech.
4. Image Recognition
We’ve seen some elements of this last point here and there, for example, in Facebook’s picture tagging suggestions and face recognizing filters from Snapchat and Instagram. But, as AI evolves, it can get even more shocking.
Imagine that you passed by a store of the clothing brand of the example at point 2, and you fell in love with one of their t-shirts. You had a busy day and forgot the name of the store, but you really want it. AI could allow you to type its features and deliver to you the shirt you’re looking for, with a link to their online store. Even better, you took a picture and it can give you back the actual shirt, along with the store’s location.
But, this isn’t the only use you can give to image recognition. AI can also improve the experience of those who are visually impaired. An example of this is Dulight from Baidu Research, a prototype that tells the user about their environment, the objects their handle and even the people they run into. Watch the video below.
Now, where does Baidu get all of this information? From data fed to their system, of course! By using a spotless image reader, and combining it with the right keywords, it can identify the images for the user and guide them around.
The key here is, precisely, having a sturdy database of properly tagged images that can be responsive to the queries presented and give you back what you need. Google has its own Cloud Vision API, which can provide information as precise as face and object recognition, and even read letters on the screen.
The more images are fed into these databases, it opens the door for AI to know you better and (just like the case of voice recognition), form a profile around you and what you share, for content targeting. That picture of you drinking beer on the beach can lead to more ads of the drinks’ competitors or of sweet summer travel packages.
AI has far many more uses than the ones outlined on this list, as they keep on appearing as technology evolves. The key for marketers is to know they exist and how we can optimize our strategies to make AI work in our favor. Whether that means by improving our SEO keywords to make them closer to natural speech or outsourcing some of our media buying efforts, man and machine can work together to create an almost unbeatable marketing strategy.
(Although, I personally am still not happy about AI content writing, though)
Do you know any other uses of AI in Marketing? Let us know in the comments.