If you’ve seen one too many mediocre sci-fi movies, the phrase ‘artificial intelligence’ might bring to mind images of evil robots and technology taking over the world.

In reality, AI is not a Hollywood concept, but a timely and practical tool for marketers. 

Essentially, we’re talking about AI in the context of a technology that aims to solve a specific problem, one that uses datasets in order to learn and replicate information and behaviours.

So, don't worry, nothing like this...

With AI playing an increasing role in all our lives, our Marketing in the Age of Artificial Intelligence report predicts the various ways it will continue to impact consumers.

Here are five takeaways from the research.

1. Reducing the clutter of choice

As well as making things more complicated for marketers, the appearance of multiple social channels has led to a non-linear and fractured path to purchase.

From researching products to comparing reviews, consumers are now faced with an overwhelming amount of information and choice. 

Consequently, AI can be used to help to narrow down the decision-making process. By finding patterns in large datasets, it can potentially provide consumers with the answers they’re looking for. 

While it's easy to assume that taking away choice would be a negative thing, research suggests that in mundane circumstances, this can leave us with energy for more important decisions. 

2. Providing relevant products

With such a vast array of brands to choose from, the control is now in the hands of the consumer.

As a result, contextual factors are incredibly useful for engaging customers and driving loyalty, and AI is the easiest and fastest way to do this. 

By analysing factors like weather, location, age and gender – product recommendations can become even more personalised and relevant to the individual consumer.

3. Speeding up the supply chain

One of AI’s most significant features is its ability to predict future behaviour based on what it’s already seen.

This is becoming increasingly relevant as brands attempt to meet customer demands for fast and even same-day delivery.

We’ve already seen the likes of Amazon Prime Now utilise AI technology to facilitate ‘anticipatory shipping’, and this looks set to become all the more common in future.


4. Enhancing communication with brands

As well as the customer’s expectations for delivery, it also applies to a growing desire for instantaneous and one-to-one communication with brands.

This is where chatbots come in.

Taking away the need to deal with customer-service staff, and meeting the consumer desire for a text-based service, automated chatbots can deliver easier, faster and more contextually relevant communication.

With an estimated 2.5bn people using at least one messaging app, chatbots also enable brands to enter into the one area that has so far eluded them – dark social.

5. Greater understanding of customers

Data doesn’t just relate to what products customer are buying and where.

Now, with personalisation at the heart of every consumer experience, brands are looking towards social media platforms to discover insight into every day trends and topics.

Facebook’s AI engine, Deep Text, is built to understand the meaning and sentiment behind everything posted on the platform. In turn, it can surface content that is of interest to the user.

Of course, there must be balance, as brands run the risk of alienating consumers if they impose too much control over decision-making.

For more insight on this topic, download the full report here.

Nikki Gilliland

Published 15 August, 2016 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (1)

Peter Duffy

Peter Duffy, Chief Executive Officer at Mercanto

Hi Nikki,

Thanks for the great article. Absoloutely right - AI is a wide-open area for most marketers, but will soon be 'table stakes'.

Brands with lots of customers and lots of fast moving stock are seeing the biggest upswing in revenues from AI - for example eBay saw a sustained 68% increase in email revenues globally.

For example fashion retailers can use AI to maintain a 'lifetime customer profile' then use that data to infer a consumer’s preferred size/cut, and match it with appropriate inventory. Size data is just one of the many attributes that can be scanned and auto-tagged for individualisation purposes.

It works best by:
1. looking at the entire digital footprint of the user, and scanning and auto-tagging a wide variety of user data to infer the user's preferences & interests
2. match them to the current inventory.
3. incorporate the appropriate business rules

It's the equivalent of a million personal shoppers all crafting individual emails for every one of your customers or subscribers.


almost 2 years ago

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