I recently attended a talk given by Professor Andrew Blake, Laboratory Director at Microsoft’s Cambridge University AI research facility.  He described the many benefits that will be derived as we continue to develop the usage and capability of Artificial Intelligence, but he also pointed out that the full promise of AI often always seems a decade away, whatever year you are standing in. Partly because it remains so damned hard to create machines and software with truly powerful AI, that can crucially learn at a high pace and mirror the complexities of human understanding and response.

What came through is that while marketing is still some years away from truly enjoying the benefits of AI, now is the time to be gearing up for them, and starting to collect and filter the Big Data that AI can find meaningful patterns in at millisecond speed, to help grow markets and speed customers through to purchase.  As  Mark van Rijmenam (Author of Think Bigger) points out  “The market for AI-based tools and applications is growing rapidly and according to EU, the global market for AI is set to grow from € 700 million in 2013 to € 27 billion in 2015”.

Here is a look at 3 Ways AI will attempt to improve marketing this decade:

1. Virtual concierge

‘Virtual Concierges’ will work for brands, utilising artificial intelligence to thoroughly analyse customer profiles, previous transactions and social footprint in an instant. This means the Virtual Concierge can answer complex questions from customers relating to their purchases and future concerns.  These avatars will extend into the real-world in ‘robot’ form as concierges in the hospitality industry, reception staff, personal trainers, multi-lingual teachers or as companions for the elderly. Unlike an FAQ, or search engine, the Concierge through automated psychological profiling will recognise how savvy the person they are interacting with is on any given topic and then respond to them at an appropriate level, all the time continuing to learn from the person they are engaging with.

2. Search curation

Online concierges, will pop-up during potential customers searches to help them find the most relevant information; and while they are at it, to give direct offers to customers, or to pass them to a contact centre or make other “little black book” style connections for them.  The speed at which AI can works means the most useful data will be presented to the human in a matters of seconds, rather than the minutes it would take the human to find that info without AI support.

3. Patterns in data to create market intelligence

Artificial intelligence engines will patrol the web evaluating and alerting humans to ideas as it discovers them in the big data, as well as voicing current and predicted shifts in audience behaviour.  Most relevant to marketeers creating moment by moment media-buying recommendations to improve marketing ROI in across all digital and social channels.

The concern for marketeers must be that those that control the robots, also control the future of marketing –  and all the major tech companies are already very much on the case: Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter.  AI will come at a price, and if you don’t have the Publicis / WPP style financial firepower to do big deals with these tech beasts, will your brand or agency become a have-not in the age of the robot?  The amount of AI startups right now, may suggest the contrary, with AI acting as a leveller.  But how many AI start-ups will quickly be bought up by the big boys? I would suggest the vast majority.



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