The End of Marketing as We Know It

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning will improve sales and marketing by enabling processes and communication without continuous direction. The addition of voice-first systems could eliminate much of the power of 'push marketing'.

Marketing and advertising have been around since the dawn of the Sumerian culture over 6,000 years ago. Just about all forms of marketing since falls under two fundamental categories:

  • Push Marketing – Marketing messages from newspaper, magazine, TV, website banners, google search textual banners.
  • Pull Marketing – Telephone directories, some web search engine results.

Marketing methods will be fundamentally altered with the rise of artificial intelligence, chatbots and the emergence of voice-first communication systems.

The Power of AI

Cloud computing provides an exponential increase in processing power, while advanced analytics has provided new ways to move from data to insight. Digital tools allow us to translate unstructured data into structured information faster and more accurately than ever possible. As a result, we can now ‘train’ computers to perform the kind of intelligent tasks previously performed (much more slowly) by humans.

According to Aaron Shapiro, CEO of Huge, there are four key areas where marketers can start applying AI to evolve the way their companies interact with consumers:

  • Advanced Analytics. AI allows us to detect patterns from data. These patterns can be things that people or conventional statistical models cannot detect themselves or patterns that normally require years of expertise to discern. Machine learning can detect new patterns from complex client data, resulting in an enhanced ability to draw insights and predict future outcomes.
  • Personalization. Products and services can be created that learn from the behavior of their users and tailor experiences. Anticipatory experiences can be developed on behalf of users based on their goals, preferences and behavior. According to Shapiro, brand experiences will soon differentiate themselves by customizing all of their advertising, products, and services for their individual users.
  • Automation. AI can assist with task automation, doing rudimentary marketing tasks (such as onboarding) more quickly, less expensively, and with less expertise and effort than previously required.
  • Conversational Interfaces. Building engagement with customers is at the core of what marketing is supposed to achieve. Artificial intelligence will be the fuel that can power conversational devices like Siri, Alexa, Google Home, etc. in the future. While the conversations are rudimentary today, the potential is endless.

Marketers can only dream of serving multiple marketing content for multiple products to multiple individual consumers in real time today. There are still too many variables for a client and agency to manage. Decision trees would grow and costs would soar. In addition, financial institutions cannot crank out enough creative to match the needs of the full consumer or business opportunity.

The future of AI provides this opportunity. The machine learning, combined with advanced automation and new communication still can develop custom content, in real time, and deliver the infinite number of messages, on demand to each individual consumer.

The Voice-First Transition

A voice-first marketing system is not a voice-only system, but a system that is designed to use voice as the primary input method. The amazing growth of Amazon’s Echo product using the Alexa voice platform is the inception point of the voice-first revolution.

To understand how voice-first could dominate and give rise to voice commerce and voice payments we need to understand what the last 60 years of using a computer really was … humans learning to be more like computers. We learned so many steps that the most technophobic person using a smartphone or a computer, has become some level of technologist.

The use of any smartphone or computer really requires a deep set of skills that are not inherited. They are learned over time and become a part of our daily landscape. Some researchers say using a smartphone or a computer actually represents to some, 80% of the learned knowledge they will acquire over their life.

It is clear that humans have been evolving speech for perhaps millions of years. Certainly over the last 100,000 years, we have organized more sophisticated vocabularies into early languages that lead up to the primary way humans communicate.

Voice-first systems will become far more personal than any system used to date. The AI driven ML will began to know deeper and deeper insights about what a consumer likes and dislikes to the level that will someday surpass a very close friend or even a spouse. In short, your voice-driven AI will create an Intelligent Assistant (IA) that will for all normal purposes be like a very close friend … but one that is 100% focused on serving you what you want.

Voice-First Commerce

The world of push advertising will not exist in the AI-powered, voice-first world. Instead of making decisions on emotional messaging, an AI-powered voice-first marketing process would build decisions based on contextual and factual behaviors and trends. While the decision of the AI solution can be overridden, it would need to override the logic that was used to build the decision in the first place … a logic that is entirely personalized.

In the real world, the AI-powered device will help identify a specific product best place to find the selected product and even determine the most economical way to purchase the item … all within the context of funds availability and prioritization of purchase compared to other needs.

Before AI powered commerce, a consumer may have performed a Google search and have been influenced by the numerous pay-per-click advertising messages. We can see how this example demonstrates one way push advertising could be bypassed.

AI-Powered, Voice-First: Great Opportunity? Or Great Disruption?

Natural Language Processing (NLP), is a machine learning technology that detect trends in user traffic and behavior by analyzing data or content as the human brain does — it allows ads to be matched based on context or emotion rather than just simple keywords. In the future, AI can analyze a user’s moods, tastes, and needs — information that will not only allow marketers to deliver messages in real-time, but also predict what consumers will want next.

But, there’s a danger that irrelevant use, or bots that pretend to be human, might irritate consumers. This puts the customer experience on center stage. Human experts still will need to have control over AI execution … at least for now. “The concept of ‘technological singularity’, in which machines become better at developing themselves, is a real eventuality and to ensure campaigns don’t run off-track, a high level of human input will still be important,” states Giovanni Strocchi.

Banks will need to navigate a new relationship with their customers through these devices. This will start with building ubiquitous services around any voice platform the customer selected. From Siri, Alexa and Viv on to Google, there will be a push to not only be the top banking system on these platforms, but also the “top of wallet” choice for payment cards and other banking services. Banks can define domains and intents that voice-driven AI can discover and utilize.

All of these changes will drive the need for banks to stay far ahead of the technology curve than was seen when apps were introduced on smartphones. It also means that banks will need to partner, acquire and/or innovate around issues like security, KYC and other regulations that impact banking.

The first step any bank should consider is building a platform that can interact with voice-first systems, even if only for just simple commands like account balance, credit line available or next billing date. These first steps will allow current customers and future customers to be able to reach out to the bank via these new voice assisted AI systems.

Advertising as we have come to know it may be setting on the horizon, but on the other side these new paradigms creating amazing opportunities.

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