Artificial Intelligence (AI) used to be the stuff of science fiction movies and late-night horror shows, something that seemed so fantastical that the idea of it becoming a reality was laughable.
Clearly, not everyone was laughing. AI isn’t quite ready to take over the world, but it’s no longer a thing of the future.
It’s happening now!
Most people don’t realize they’re already surrounded by AI. When they click on Netflix, they’re presented with machine learning-generated movie suggestions based on their preferences and viewing habits. Google Maps utilizes it to help shorten commute time by altering routes to navigate around real-time traffic. Gmail can filter over 99% of spam email utilizing machine learning. Facebook uses AI in their facial recognition that makes tagging suggestions when a picture is uploaded.
No industry will be immune from AI’s impact, and that includes marketing. Already, we’ve seen it make significant changes, including how we engage in internet searches. Consider Goggle’s RankBrain, which is a piece of Google’s overall algorithm for search engine rankings. By using AI to filter results, RankBrain has already bested company experts at page selection.
We’re just at the beginning of the evolution. As we look ahead, here’s what’s on the horizon for AI:
#1 Greater Accessibility for Developers
AI technology has been limited to large players in the industry, completely out of reach for the average developer. But that’s all about to change.
Marketing apps incorporating AI are part of that change. By removing one layer of guesswork from the burden of deciphering mountains of data, marketers will find AI frees up resources, offers targeted insights, and better engages users. Additionally, AI means more opportunities for expanding their reach and finding new audiences.
New tools such as Parsey McParseface, Google’s natural language processor, and Lex, Amazon’s conversational bot builder, are giving the average developer an opportunity to venture into the world of machine learning and therefore build better apps.
With a wealth of talent in the general marketplace about to get their hands on cutting-edge technology, who knows what new opportunities will be created.
#2 Collaborative Designers
AI is being integrated into tools used for design to help boost the creative possibilities for designers. Rather than catastrophizing about AI taking over and putting people out of work, this is an example of how AI can be a collaborative partner.
Marketers will likely find that this, too, streamlines their access to data. Brands like Netflix and Etsy have turned to AI to help their marketing efforts. Through the use of collaborative filtering, they are able to group their customers based on their similar preferences.
Collaboration can be tricky in marketing, but, as AI learns as it goes, collaboration might be the next step in expanding your consumer base.
#3 Content Creation
AI isn’t likely to start spinning prose this year, but we will be seeing AI take a more active role in the research and analysis aspects of writing.
There is the possibility that it will also move into the editing and distribution phase this year. Already, the Associated Press has partnered with Arkadium to integrate AI into digital content creating.
#4 Personalization of Marketing
AI is already a valuable tool in the marketing arena. The one size fits all approach to email blasting and the like have mostly become a thing of the past. Evidence of personalized marketing can be seen at every turn, on and offline.
As AI moves forward in this arena, the customer experience will become one of a more cohesive, personalized journey. Purchase and browsing history data will be extracted, and then AI will use that data to formulate a custom-tailored journey as the customer moves through the process of buying.
#5 Customer Service
Artificial intelligence is learning to read emotion and respond to differing moods. Chatbots and virtual assistants are already applying AI technology to customer service tasks.
At this point, the technology isn’t sophisticated enough to completely replace customer service roles. However, it’s definitely starting to make its mark.
Accenture, for example, studied the role of AI in the banking industry and discovered that they could reduce time on some tasks by 90%. Diverting tasks to AI frees up human personnel to spend more time elsewhere. Expect to see banks jumping to the front of the line for AI customer service implementation.
#6 Variable Pricing Control
A few companies are already using AI to control the variable pricing of goods and services. Expect to see a lot more of this in 2018.
This is an interesting arena to watch as there could be some legal controversy stirred up. AI may be able to get away with pricing practices that humans could not. Humans are limited by anti-competitive collusion regulations. Will AI be subject to the same constraints? Will humans be held responsible for the decisions that AI is making?
#7 The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things, or the IoT, is interconnection among smart devices. Your Bluetooth speaker that connects to your smartphone is an early example.
Today, there are smart cars, smart homes, and even smart cities – all functioning through the Internet of Things. As more and more things become “smart,” the IoT is becoming an increasingly important topic across industries, and marketing is no exception.
Consider this kitchen solution. LG has launched a sub-brand named ThinQ for 2018. They’ve made it clear that AI is a primary focus for the company. Refrigerators, televisions, electronic devices, and services under the ThinQ brand will have AI features developed with deep learning techniques. The products will be able to communicate with each other.
Hopefully, a household product coup isn’t on the horizon. Be polite to your blender, it may be chatting with the fridge when you’re not around!
AI has already infiltrated many areas of daily life, and its presence in our digital marketing efforts is going to become more and more evident. Rather than bury your head in the sand, embrace it and determine how it can enhance your marketing campaigns. By doing so, you can get a jump on the competition and find ways to better serve your customers.