Sep 20, 2016

5 marketing essentials to herald the age of AI

PHD’s Susana Tsui on the future history of artificial intelligence.

Susana Tsui
Susana Tsui

In a few short years, we have witnessed AI master computer gaming, control our home automation gadgets and answer medical based questions via apps. But what are the implications when, in the not too distant future, we enter the era of pre-emptive marketing, when not only bids but also data is accessible in real time, when VPAs start making purchasing and bidding decisions for us, when an AI runs a company? 

These are some of themes being explored at this year’s Spikes festival and as part of PHD’s ‘Predestination’ initiative, which seeks to put a marketing lens on the technological forces that will shape our future.

These forces are the subject of a book called ‘The Inevitable’ by author, visionary and Wired founder Kevin Kelly, who makes a compelling case for how the roots of the digital world are the springboard for the enduring and profound changes we will live through over the next thirty years.

Having partnered with Kevin earlier this year, we’ve further explored how the forces will have an impact on marketing and communications and will be sharing these insights – and the opinions of industry leaders – over the next few weeks as part of our Predestination series. 

Artificial intelligence will be central force in the changes we will see, electrifying the mechanical in ways it is sometimes hard to imagine. These changes will be both thrilling and full of opportunity but equally disruptive and confusing, challenging existing assumptions, livelihoods, even laws.

AI may seem far-fetched today when a brand needs to grow market share and optimise ROI within the construct of today’s marketing structures. But machine learning, the basis of AI, is the essence of programmatic advertising.

In years to come it is not hard to see AI enabling marketers and their media agency to design seamless consumer journeys and even become the gateway to consumers decision making (via a Virtual Personal Assistant). Equally, as this AI world cognitizes, it seems plausible humans will be freed up to pursue and develop richer and wider experiences.

With Kevin Kelly predicting that the future model for business will be to “take X and add AI”, PHD believes that by understanding and dissecting the future history of AI, it will be easier for us to remain on top of the coming wave of changes. 

So how can marketers prepare themselves today for this future epoch? Here are five suggestions:

1. Ensure that the current disciplines of SEO, PPC and programmatic buying are embraced and your people are upskilled now. These will help as these will be the most transferable skills to new AI models. Optimising to the machine will be the greatest determinant of success.

2. Connect the critical elements of a brand’s marcoms eco-systems such as data partners, agency suppliers and off line channels – otherwise known as marketing stacks – to enable brands to quickly take advantage of the potential of AI.

3. The AI era will make it necessary for products to have “tagged” information -- similar to the world of search engine optimisation. This will include tags for everything from food ingredients to where they were produced so that Virtual Personal Assistants (VPAs) can make informed decisions on our behalf. This “tagged-up world” will be a vital part of how brands optimise their offerings for the age of the sentient VPA. Marketers will need to think hard about what types of product data to tag-up, and what types of offers make the most sense in different contexts.

4. Feedback from other customers will be one of the most important signals that sentient VPAs look at when deciding whether to recommend a product to you, so maintaining positive brand sentiment will be crucial. That means selling high-quality products will be more important than ever.

5. Advertisers will need to future-proof the way they use customer data. Better uses of more complete data sets will ensure targeting doesn’t become an irritant as advertisers become smarter and more responsible in the ways they create their target audiences. AI will mean there might be fewer messages seen, but the ones that do get seen will have been selected based on extremely specific purchasing and behavioural data about you, and therefore much more influential.

AI is going to radically change what we do, and create huge new challenges and opportunities for brands in reaching consumers. Those that anticipate these future changes and prepare for it, will undoubtedly be those that thrive.

Join PHD as they explore the future implications of AI at Spikes Asia.
When: Thursday 22nd September, 2.45 pm
Where: Forum Stage

Read more on the PHD Predestination hub.

Campaign Asia

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