‘The chicken crossed the road to become a sandwich. Burger King encouraged the chicken.’
‘The Whopper lives in a bun mansion, just like you.’
Recognise these lines? This was supposedly the result of an ‘AI content creator’. The campaign was intended to demonstrate the shortfalls of AI, while emphasising the unique creative talent of human beings.
However, the campaign also highlighted the scepticism many have for developing technologies. More recently, the 2020 State of Branding Report found that over half of surveyed marketers thought automation and AI would negatively impact their branding efforts. Only a quarter thought AI would have a positive impact. Marketing is a deeply creative profession, and many marketers struggle to understand the place of technology in something so human.
This concern is echoed by customer dissatisfaction with automated systems such as virtual assistants and chatbots. Often, the sentiment of ‘Just let me speak to a human’ is expressed by customers. Then there’s Generation Z, digital natives, who show heightened awareness of marketing strategy and crave authenticity over perceived automation.
So, why are more and more companies investing in AI and automation? If the results are out of context advertising campaigns and robotic communication, perhaps we should be reducing our reliance on technology. However, when used correctly, AI and automation can have the opposite effect. Through strategies such as hyper-personalisation, personality and empathy AI, technology may enhance the human aspect of marketing.
The combination of artificial intelligence and access to real-time data sources will allow marketers to create hyper-personalised content. For example, emails and adverts can be personalised by adding the customer’s name, but they can be hyper-personalised by developing automated content based on the customer’s habits, location or even time of day.
This offers the opportunity for brands to develop deeper connections with customers. Moving from selling to anticipating needs and offering a specific product at the correct time.
In a similar vein, personality AI aims to humanise customer interaction by looking past demographic information. Based on online behaviour, AI can predict personality traits, allowing marketers to
truly understand who their customers are based on their likes, preferences, habits and communication style. For example, someone who is assertive or lacks patience may benefit from short, direct emails.
Given that marketers want to understand customer wants and needs, AI that could accurately predict emotional state would allow a new height of personalisation. For example, adverts could only be displayed to people when they are in the right frame of mind to receive them. Or the tone of communication could be altered to fit their mood.
This might seem like science fiction, but plenty of organisations are beginning to consider empathetic AI. The New York Times announced they had been using machine learning to predict emotions elicited by articles, and Amazon’s Alexa is learning how to determine emotion from voices.
Which is it: human or AI?
There is still some unease regarding the increased use of AI and automated systems. As technology develops, people stop asking ‘can we?’ and start asking ‘should we?’. However, personalisation
has been found to enhance customer experience and loyalty. Customers have come to expect personalisation and want brands to meet their the needs – 72 per cent of consumers will only consider brands that show they understand and care about them. Marketers can deliver on this expectation by using data-driven AI insights into who their customers are.
As with most scenarios, this isn’t a case of ‘either-or’. The creativity of human marketing is unlikely to be fully matched by technology. However, marketers can utilise AI to provide an individually tailored experience for each customer, which would not be feasible without the time-saving analytical power of this technology.