Can Artificial Intelligence Be Used in Marketing?
We tend to think of artificial intelligence as something in the physical form of a futuristic robot, but A.I. already exists in numerous forms today, and is regularly utilized in a range of fields – especially for marketing purposes. From user-tailored advertising to consumer trend analysis, A.I. will continue to help businesses improve their marketing by allowing them to personalize and refine their methods. Below are some ways A.I. is either being used, or could be used, in marketing.
Imagine entering a store and immediately receiving information and offers customized especially for you without even having to speak to a member a staff. Facial recognition technology can determine your age, gender and (if taking the whole body into proportion) your clothes size, helping you faster locate the products which might interest you.
The facial recognition technology Emotient, recently purchased by Apple, has been developed to detect ‘micro expressions’ in users and thereby determine whether the user is experiencing basic emotions such as disgust, happiness, anger, fear, surprise and contempt. This form of artificial intelligence is so advanced that it can accurately detect emotions even when someone is putting on a poker face. The technology could be used to gather information on how someone feels about a particular advert while they view it, thereby allowing for real-time marketing customization.
In 2012, Nike launched the interactive marketing campaign ‘Free Face’ which allowed people to connect their webcam to the Nike website and then, by changing their facial expression, control the movement of a shoe. The technology even used the colour of the person’s hair and clothes to correlate which the colour scheme of the shoe. The feature was simply a fun way to get people visiting the website and see examples of Nike shoes. Other brands have also focused more on how artificial intelligence, such as facial recognition technology, can be used for entertainment and engagement in marketing. The South African coffee company Douwe Egberts put a coffee machine, equipped with facial recognition software, in an airport. Every time someone yawned in front of the machine, it would dispense a free coffee.
Google and Siri have already stepped up the search engine game with voice search commands. Understanding vocalized search queries with a great deal of accuracy is only part of what makes this artificial technology so advanced. There is a considerable difference in how people phrase search queries depending on whether they are writing or speaking. Google’s algorithm will understand that a spoken query such as “where’s the best place to eat Japanese?” should show results geared toward the user’s geographic location. It will also understand ‘place’ as referring to a dining establishment, and ‘eat japanese’ meaning Japanese cuisine which could include sushi or noodles. The A.I. algorithm not only interprets the real question being asked – it also learns more about phrasing with experience.
By studying individual user behaviours, search engines can detect patterns which further help it provide relevant information to queries. For example, if your internet search history would indicate that you are female, searching for ‘1950s fashion’ might produce results geared towards women’s clothing despite you not having specified your gender. For marketers, this technology means being able to reach the most relevant audiences with adverts designed specifically for them. Advertising is quickly becoming an entirely customized aspect of online marketing. The adverts you see online right now are primarily based upon what your past searches and internet trends indicate about your interests and personality.
Automated answering machines can be a real cause for frustration sometimes. It is feasible, however, that a non-human machine could in the near future deal with our problems and complaints in an efficient and personalized manner. With artificial intelligence, technology will come to better understand a customer’s problems and provide instant solutions. Combined with face and voice recognition, the A.I. could even detect emotion in the customer and respond accordingly – reflecting the sympathetic customer service a human would provide.
All in all, big businesses and advertisers are continuing to find interesting and creative ways to use artificial intelligence in their marketing. The next few years will see advertisement and customer service grow increasingly specific to individual users. On one hand, we can look forwards to no longer having to endure tons of irrelevant ads. On the other hand – marketing will become increasingly difficult to resist.