AI won’t save ad industry but it can redefine marketing

RobIf you believe the headlines, AI may just be the answer to improving most sectors. From an artificial intelligence tool being ‘as good as experts’ at detecting eye problems, to Marks & Spencer teaming up with Microsoft to bring artificial intelligence into stores, AI is changing the way we work, how we live and yes, at times even our planet.
Make no mistake, AI is a revolutionary technology and its use of it has powerful implications for nearly every industry, including advertising. But impacting an industry and saving it are two very different things.
AI has been seen in the ad industry as a better way to target customers, but the real problem is consumers are already saying no to advertising. This means AI needs to be put to a better use and change the way brands connect with their customers, focusing on a better customer experience.
This is where the one-on-one engagement, available through AI technology, becomes so valuable. If you can truly narrow down your idea and intended customer, alongside their specific needs, why not use that understanding to connect more meaningfully?
Consumers have grown increasingly technologically savvy, and many are quick to find ways of opting out of advertising and blocking marketing messages. It’s estimated that 12.2 million people in the UK will use an ad blocker at least monthly in 2018. People don’t have time for repetitive ads. It’s time brands push to cut through the overwhelming clutter of bad ads.
Understanding how to do this is no mean feat. Especially as ad fraud is on the up, making it impossible to know if messages are reaching the correct audiences. Bots have the power to produce false impressions of page views and click throughs and as soon as this happens once, you risk losing loyal customers forever.
One of the most exciting elements of AI is the way it allows superior personalised experiences, meaning the consumer can engage in a more natural way with a brand. The trick to creating natural conversation is pretty simple – reflect human experiences. It can’t be one-way, or the consumer will tune out. Brands need to avoid being intrusive and not overstep the line, delivering meaningful experiences that provide real value.
AI-based voice skill applications such as the Estée Lauder Night-time Expert, helping individuals improve their night-time skincare routine, or Nike Coach, which offers consumers advice on how to improve their running habits and find the right shoes for their needs, are case in point.
When you channel the strengths of AI to provide purpose for the consumer it delivers better data for the brand. This in turn helps establish more loyal relationships, repeat business and create an entirely new outlook on marketing.
With the acceleration of AI, there now exists a way to transform the push-marketing style to which we’ve grown accustomed, and instead turn it into a subtle, service-first engagement without an overt agenda that seeks simply to benefit the customer.

Rob Bennett is CEO of creative technology agency Rehab

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