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Are brands and Artificial Intelligence just strange bedfellows?

AI-enabled messenger bots can be the answer to building a connection between brands and end users.

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There’s so much buzz around Artificial Intelligence (AI) everywhere I go. But can it really be used to do what humans do? How does it understand empathy? How can it help my brand stand out? These questions summed up the sentiment of most delegates at a Marketing and technology conference I recently attended. There’s so much written and talked about, but key questions like these keep circling around.

AI has revolutionized every industry that you can think of, and will continue to do so for years to come. In the field of marketing specifically, AI is already being used to crunch large amounts of data, and derive immediate insights that otherwise would take significant human intervention. AI has practically redefined what adtech platforms can do to bring scale, speed, and deep insights.

But as technology makes progress and algorithms advance, AI will get be able to offer advance personalization to the end user as well. Already our phones come with certain amount of automation and personalization. Now, AI is also making its way to our homes and pockets through multiple devices.

That’s the opportunity for brands. We are in a hyper fragmented media space where brands and agencies celebrate if a consumer watches a 30 second commercial. Consumers attention spans are low, they are more fickle than ever. Brands need to build meaningful connections with their consumer and ensure their communication with them is relevant and contextual.

AI-enabled messenger bots can be the answer to building that connection. But for that to happen, brands need to embrace AI, and not keep it at arms length. Most messenger bots are created with an unidimensional approach of being some sort of customer service rep. This needs a paradigm shift. Sony MAX, India’s leading Hindi Movie channel, knew that it needs to be available to the viewer at every touchpoint. More importantly the device that they interact with even while watching television. They launched ‘Filmykaant’ a messenger bot with NLP capabilities. They went a step ahead, and ensured the NLP engine understood ‘Hinglish’ the language that most viewers converse it.

Filmykaant is constantly evolving to become the one-stop destination for any Bollywood fan. It has a tonality and personality to appeal to a Bollywood fan. It gives relevant trivia, gossip, and even movie schedules in a language that resonates with the consumer. The bot jokes, educates, and makes sure your interaction with it is relevant and conversational.

The objective was simple, to use AI and technology to create a always on engagement for a Bollywood fan, and create value for them. In this case the AI technology has a name, face and attributes that a consumer can relate with. This itself makes it approachable and user friendly.

Similarly, Barbie recently used Natural language processing, machine learning, and advanced analytics and created – Hello Barbie. A Barbie that listens and responds to a child that’s playing with it. A microphone is attached as a necklace that records what is said, and transmits it to the server. The recording is analyzed to throw an appropriate response from 8,000 lines of dialogue.

Key learning is to change the perspective. Technology is a great enabler, but it needs to be layered with personalization. The sweet spot between technology and consumer understanding needs to be found and leveraged.

There is still a lot of room for innovation in this space. In the end, brands that stay agile and readily adopt the latest advances in AI, Big Data, IoT will be better placed to gain an early advantage. We can now say that the times are changing to – You and AI in this beautiful world.

The article is written by Chetan Asher, CEO, Tonic Worldwide.

  • Published Date: September 26, 2018 3:18 PM IST