I’m making a prediction now – while the last couple “words of the year” have been pandemic-related, within the next five years, AI, or artificial intelligence, will take the top spot at least once.
From the cars we drive to the phones in our pockets, nearly every device is equipped with some component of technology that could be classified as AI It’s for this reason that it exists with a somewhat-ambiguous definition, but it means different things to different industries. In 2021, it began catching on for marketers as they’ve learned how to leverage machine-learning to do things that humans both can and can’t do.
In this article, I’ll go over examples of how AI and machine-learning is being utilized in the industry today.
1. Ad Targeting
This one is at the top of the list because if you’re a digital marketer, there’s a roughly-100% chance that you’re utilizing AI already with your targeting parameters. Almost every platform available to advertisers has an algorithm in place that helps you connect your ad with an audience that’s most likely to be interested in what you’re selling.
Once a campaign goes live, the machine-learning wheels start turning. Systems work to take things like a user’s browser history, content that a person has engaged with on various platforms, their setting preferences, and much more in order to determine “this is the person that should be seeing your message.”
Some ad platforms, like Facebook for example, can even allocate your budget in an optimal way if you’re running several different ads at once. This means you can have full confidence that your ad dollars are being spent in an efficient way that’s going to deliver the best results possible.
2. Clickbait Headlines
It comes as no surprise that regardless of where an article is being published, clickbait headlines are the standard. The phenomenon is such that even though we know the article can’t possibly live up to the attention-grabbing text, you still click on it anyway. With that in mind, what incentive would a content producer have to move away from this strategy?
It turns out that it’s not necessarily a group of diabolical copywriters thinking, “How can we trick innocent users into clicking on our article and therefore increasing our ad revenue?” Instead, if you need somewhere to direct your blame, try the engineers and programmers who write algorithms – that’s who’s putting out clickbait headlines on daily basis.
Generally speaking, major news outlets have humans writing their headers, but those articles that populate the bottom of every web page? Not so much. If it seems like no matter what website you’re browsing the “You Won’t Believe What These Actors Look Like Today!” or “10 Live TV Fails You Just Can’t Unsee!” are ubiquitous, it’s because whichever site they’re coming from is utilizing similar algorithms. These are designed, backed up by actual data, to include words and images that browsers have proven they like to click on when they’re presented.
The funny thing is, even after reading this, recognizing it’s true, and understanding that you’re going to be let down if you click, sometimes you still just can’t help it. The silver lining? In an ironic twist of fate, machine-learning systems are now being used to filter out clickbait headlines that are deemed low-quality.
Unlike clickbait headlines, which haven’t really improved all that much over the past decade, chatbots have been an area of focus for those in the business of developing AI systems that feel (almost) like real people.
Digital marketing’s primary advantage over more “traditional” mediums is that it’s responsive. It allows for a dialogue between consumers and brands that was never feasible in the past. Still, it’s not exactly realistic for someone to sit at a computer all day and respond to questions and complaints that may or may not be coming in. The solution has been found in Chatbots.
The history of the Chatbot dates all the way back to 1966, coming out of MIT, of course. Back then it functioned using a basic decision-tree model. Today, the general design utilizes machine learning, meaning that it has the ability to “program” itself – no human intervention required.
If you’ve ever been four or five messages deep with a business website’s chat feature and still can’t decide if you think there’s a real person on the other end or not, that’s a true testament to just how advanced this technology can be…and it’s only going to get smarter moving forward.
4. Ecommerce Pricing
Commerce is happening online at a rate that, although somewhat predictable, is still mind-boggling in sheer scale. Of course reasons like, “anyone can buy anything from anywhere” and “nobody likes leaving home if they don’t have to” are at the top of the list, but there’s another reason businesses like selling online: dynamic pricing.
Most online shoppers regularly add things to their cart, only to decide that it’s just a little too pricy at the moment. Eventually, you might get a notification that the item in question has dropped in price by 10 or 15%…it’s a miracle! Actually, it’s artificial intelligence recognizing that you just need little push to take the final step and make the purchase.
Not only are businesses using this tactic on a regular basis to get more sales in general, but they’re also using it to automate their “sales” in the traditional sense (lowering prices when something is ready to be taken off the shelves). This type of model has allowed companies to maximize their inventory while growing their customer base. If that happens by giving customers a lower price, it seems like this is a rare situation where everybody wins.
The future is here, and advertisers need to adapt in order to create an efficient, competitive operation. Although there will always be a human element in advertising and digital marketing, it’s crucial to learn how to get along with the algorithms that be in order to maximize your effectiveness.
If your business needs help putting together a marketing or branding plan that fits your needs and budget, get in touch today for a customized solution that works for your business.