As we come to the end of 2017 our thoughts turn to 2018 and how, as marketers, we can improve our marketing strategy, making it even more successful than the year before.
There have been huge technological advances made this year, especially with regards to the supernatural world of artificial intelligence and machine learning. What once was something we could only have imagined to be part of ‘The Jetsons’ is fast becoming our reality as this year we seen events such as Saudi Arabia granting citizenship to Sophia… a robot… (Crazy, right?)
Sophia on ‘The Tonight Show’ with Jimmy Fallon (Image credit: NBC)
AI has most definitely been one of the key buzzwords for 2017 and something any smart marketer should be trying to implement into their strategy. However, whilst some good progress was made, we have still only just scratched the surface with regards to the true potential of AI and what it can do to raise the bar of your marketing campaigns and enhance customer relationships.
You may not have realised but artificial intelligence has been around for some time (the 1940’s to be exact), but it seems that only now is it really starting to take off. In 2016, just 38% of companies surveyed used artificial intelligence. A report by Narrative Science found that by 2018 this will increase to 62%! On top of that, IDC have estimated that the AI market will grow from $8 billion in 2016 to more than $47 billion in 2020. So if you think the technology is pretty smart now, just imagine what 2020 holds! But for now, let’s concentrate on the year ahead...
So what does 2018 hold in terms of the progression of artificial intelligence marketing and machine learning?
1. Content Creation
Machine generated content is currently rather limited to pieces that are more informative and accurate, rather than creative or empathetic, for example, in business, financial or sports reporting. There is still a long way to go in terms of teaching a machine to craft sentences in the natural human language as well as to be creative, but the potential is there and I believe this is where we will see a lot of progress in 2018. Infact, a study by Gartner has predicted that as much as 20% of all business content will be authored by machines by 2018. The benefits of AI and machine learning in content marketing are huge: from helping with the research to making your content more personalised and targeted, AI has the ability to streamline the entire content creation process, helping marketers save time and money in the long run.
2. Natural Language Generation (NLG)
Whether it’s a blog post, push notification or a social media message, marketers are always trying to use the right words in the right order to convey the right message to our target audience. This is usually a tricky task that requires a deep understanding of the target market and how they communicate. For a machine, however, this is more difficult. Unfortunately they don’t have the ability to process information the same way the human brain does. As a result they sometimes interpret things wrong and their words and sentences don’t make sense or flow like a normal human conversation.
Already there has been huge advances made in the field of natural language generation. This year we have seen many brands adopt the likes of chatbots as part of their marketing strategy and so it is fair to assume that NLG will continue to be a key area for improvement going into 2018.
3. AI-Powered Image Recognition
An image is worth a thousand words. With more than 3.25 billion photos shared a day between Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, I think it is fair to say that social media has become a predominantly visual platform. With Facebook users being 2.3 times more likely to engage with posts that have images than those that don’t, and tweets with images receiving 150% more retweets than those without, marketers simply can’t afford to overlook the power of an image.
But you might be wondering what any of this has got to do with artificial intelligence? Well, AI-powered image recognition tools have the ability to scour through social media sites to find an extensive library of images with specific scenes, objects and characteristics at an unparalleled speed and scale. This solves the challenges marketers face in terms of spending hours manually searching for the images their target market are responding to best. Plus many of these images go undetected as more often than not the person posting the image hasn’t tagged the brand or included relevant text alongside the image. This means marketers using keyword searches alone would simply never uncover them.
The potential from listening to what your consumers are saying through the images they share online is huge. These insights can enable brands to deliver a more targeted, seamless and overall improved experience to their customers. As AI-powered image recognition becomes a more widely used tool going into 2018, it will certainly be interesting to see how different marketing teams use it to their advantage.
2018 is set to be another big year for artificial intelligence marketing and machine learning. With each year that passes the technology seems to become more available, affordable, customisable and easier to use, showing no signs of slowing down. Marketers from all industries simply need to leverage the power of AI or face falling way behind the competition.