Saturday, June 03, 2017

Artificial Intelligence and Digital Marketing: a Primer

Artificial Intelligence: Implications On Marketing, Analytics, And You

Occam's Razor is a blog about Digital Marketing. He recently gave a fantastic primer on artificial intelligence and its implications for digital marketers. If you don't know much about the field, I highly recommend taking the 15-20 minutes to read his post. Buzzwords like AI and machine learning are thrown around a lot, but the reality is that they will totally change the industry. As motivation, here's a fantastic example he gave of a marketing company using AI to generate real results:

"A large hotel chain wanted to solve this problem: 90k travelers are stranded every day in America across 5,145 airports. How can the hotel ensure that they show up at the right moment for all these people? The solution was to leverage real-time signals like bad weather, flight delays at 5,145 airports, and other such data, combine that with ML powered algorithms to automate ads and messaging in the proximity of local airports. All sans human-control. Result? 60% increase in bookings in targeted areas. ML + Automation = Profit."

This is just one very good example of how AI will change the industry. We all know that the more tailored an advertisement is (the more personal the touch point), the more effective it usually is. Mobile and web advertising not only allow for highly personalized content as opposed to print or traditional TV/radio spots, but with AI companies can now create micro-campaigns on demand. Instead of coming up with a segmented group of targets to advertise against using traditional methods, companies can now let an algorithm segment based on highest expected returns and then have that algorithm dynamically adjust in real time to local conditions. This hotel use case is just the tip of the iceberg. Think about the department store who on any given day could come up with almost an infinite number of small campaigns it might want to run. Having a person design such campaigns and then implement them is cost prohibitive. But allowing a machine learning algorithm to do it for you is well with-in the scope of possibility. The computer might detect that it's raining outside and decide the best campaign to run would be for umbrellas, or it might detect that a certain fashion item is trending on twitter and is the best item to push to consumers.

Most exciting are the unexpected results. We as humans understand why a computer would recommend a hotel ad for stranded passengers, but AI has the ability to recommend things that are not intuitive. Like the Pandora listener who is shocked to discover he likes listening to Celine Dion, or the unexpected Google Go move 37, it's the effective ad campaigns that AI can generate that humans would never have thought of that will truly change how things are done. Many times with machine learning, we don't understand why something is more effective, we just empirically see that it is.

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