Building customer relationships with AI

As marketers, in particular digital specialists, we are often guilty of focusing on the immediate gains we can realise from technology. This is true of all emerging technologies which can make our lives easier and our campaigns more efficient. However, it can be detrimental to its eventual potential, so it’s important to think bigger than ourselves and our area of expertise. This is potentially truer now than ever, with the emergence of AI.

AI is a huge all-encompassing term for many technologies, essentially covering everything which involves machine learning. This can be from the simplest output, such as a macro in an excel, to something incredibly advanced such as voice assistants booking our haircuts! With so many applications, it’s easy to focus on the now and not the future.

So how can we break down the applications further to make them accessible for now and open for the future? As we see it there are three types of AI in varying stages of development;

  • Optimising; Goal orientated AI designed to deliver a measurable outcome
  • Recognising; Categorisation orientated, leaning on human understanding to group at scale
  • Creating; Output orientated, asking an open question and using machine learning to answer

These areas feed our understanding of AI as marketers, leaving open questions which can be answered by user understanding and human uptake for the technology, this then translates into three distinct areas of focus:

  • Marketing with AI; Could be algorithmic gains within programmatic
  • Marketing of AI; Could be the use of chatbots as a landing point for consumers
  • Marketing to AI; Could be brands marketing to voice assistants to gain market advantage

Of these three areas of focus, marketing with AI is obviously developing fastest and is the most tangible outcome at this stage. Marketing of AI is a market challenge for us, we are looking at AI as an extension of brands, how they have bridged the gap between brand and consumer and add additional value to both. Finally marketing to AI is the opportunity, the ambition of brand interaction, communicating with technologies developed to aid consumers, not marketers. This could be brands marketing to personal AI agents which are designed to pull back two product options for their owner.

Regardless of the role of AI in marketing, we at OMD believe in creativity aligned with technology, fundamentally delivering creative and innovative campaigns. AI to us is ‘Artful Intelligence’, without creativity we believe Marketing ‘with’, ‘of’ and most of all ‘to’ AI will have limited market cut-through and brands will fall below their potential.

To come to this conclusion, we need to know that there is a strong consumer desire for AI technologies. This led us to conduct a piece of research with Goldsmiths university, across 13 markets, 19 retail sectors and 18 technologies. The market leading piece of research included hands on testing alongside qualitative and quantitative methods, as well as a hackathon. The output therefore was substantial enough to generate a wider understanding of consumer use of AI. Some of the headlines were:

  • 22% of Europeans are already using AI technologies
  • A further 41% are open to using the technologies
  • Trust is a big blocker, especially in the UK and Scandinavia
  • The Spanish and Polish are most open to using the technologies

The research identified 5 core groups of consumers we need to consider when looking at AI adoption. Whilst 12% were firmly in the uninterested category, 88% are open to AI technologies and of this group 22% would be early adopters. Two thirds of consumers are therefore wanting to accept and use AI but are unsure of the current consumer output. We need to educate these consumers and develop AI outside of our expertise, thinking bigger than our current day to day, our current P&L and the current outputs of AI.

To that end we are focusing on the retail applications and uses of AI within marketing. We’ll be going into more detail in our next AI blog!

 

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Jamie Irving

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