If you’ve watched Netflix, accepted a suggestion from Amazon or chatted with a customer service rep online — chances are, you’ve thereby directly interacted with artificial intelligence.
Yep, surprise! That helpful little correspondent named Ashley or Jen is actually just a bot.
Before you let that little pang of betrayal sink in, we’re here to tell you that customer service bots are only one of MANY ways artificial intelligence is in our daily lives.
Whether you’re a marketer or just a user of the internet (welcome to the digital age), AI is changing the game. It’s time to find out how AI in marketing will alter the equation.
What is artificial intelligence?
The Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute defines artificial intelligence as, “technologies and processes that augment human knowledge and capabilities.”
Content AI, on the other hand, is a concept by which marketers use artificial intelligence, and its ability to capture and leverage customer data, to produce audience-relevant content. In doing so, teams can increase production and further drive customer loyalty.
“AI is the leading technology where marketers expect the most growth in the next two years.”
Companies are moving fast to anticipate customer needs and deliver personalized services at large scales. In order to do so, they must disrupt the industry through the use of artificial intelligence.
According to the “State of Marketing” report:
Assuming those statistics materialize, that would mean a massive 78 percent of companies surveyed will be using some form of artificial intelligence. That being said, for companies looking to compete in today’s market, embracing digital transformation in this new, transformative era is imperative.
So, just how will this influx of new technology affect content marketing? Let’s take a look at how artificial intelligence can potentially affect all aspects of the marketing sphere.
How content is created
While it’s tough to imagine a machine generating thoughtful content ideas, the reality is machines are already doing it, and it’s not bad, either.
Ray Kurzweil, Google’s director of engineering, believes computers will be smarter than humans by 2029. This is likely due to two rapidly-evolving solutions: predictive intelligence and machine learning.
Since we’re still working on the whole time travel thing, no one can really capture and analyze data from the future. However, there is a way to predict how consumers will respond to content based on their actions.
Predictive intelligence, for starters, goes by several names you may recognize, such as predictive analytics or predictive recommendations. For our purposes, predictive intelligence, as stated by Salesforce, is a method of delivering unique experiences per individual. It enables marketers to observe customer behavior, and with every action taken, build a profile of customer preferences in order to deliver content specific to each customer in real time—across any digital platform.
For example, predictive intelligence analytics allows Netflix to surface and finesse recommendations for its users. Uniting various forms of data to create one specified experience is the basic foundation of AI.
While AI systems have been working in the background of companies like Netflix, Amazon and Google for years, it’s prevalence has brought AI solutions to more than just enterprise level companies.
For example, Under Armour combines user data from its Record app with third-party data and research on fitness, nutrition etc. The sports apparel company, therefore, has the ability to offer up relevant and personalized lifestyle advice.
IBM explained the idea in a press release:
“A 32-year-old woman who is training for a 5km race could use the app to create a personalized training and meal plan based on her size, goals, lifestyle.
The app could map routes near her home/office, taking into account the weather and time of day. It can watch what she eats and offer suggestions on how to improve her diet to improve performance.”
Predictive intelligence technology such as this can be incredibly helpful when building out your editorial calendar. Predicting what your customers want and providing the most relevant content possible will put you in a position to create quality leads and, hopefully, conversions.
We’ve come a long way since Alan Turing first posed the question, “Can machines think?” back in 1950.
Computers today are not only “thinking,” they’re learning and continuing to evolve thanks to a little something called machine learning (brilliant, right?), which makes predictions based on data to better the algorithms upon which artificial intelligence operates.
Machine learning: A method of linear data analysis allowing computers and computer systems to “learn” (or improve the performance of a specific task based on data) without being explicitly programmed by humans.
These machine learning algorithms enable brands and marketers to make sense of overwhelming amounts of data and deliver content in record time. With the breakthrough of both machine learning and predictive intelligence, the development of AI solutions will continue to move forward—and fast.
Who creates content
In addition to predictive intelligence and machine learning, language generation also holds tremendous potential in the future of marketing, and in making the work of content creators more efficient. By 2018, Gartner predicts, 20 percent of all business content will be authored by machines.
While this may be upsetting to some writers (ahem), the truth is, most business leaders and marketing professionals have already accepted the fact that an AI marketing revolution is not far away. In fact, it’s already here.
Certain companies, such as sports media outlet ESPN have been using a form of AI known as natural language processing (NLP) to publish stories online for years (YEARS!).
Maybe you’re just as shocked to learn this as us, but here’s an example of an AI created story on a baseball player who pitched a perfect game back in 2011 (2011!!).
Not bad, computer…not bad.
Actually, to be specific, the above article was developed by a B2B article-writing solution called Narrative Science and their software, Quill.
Narrative Science describes itself as: “Humanizing data like never before, with technology that interprets your data and transforms it into ‘intelligent narratives’ at speed and scale.”
According to Content Marketing Institute, Narrative Science started in 2010 as a Northwestern University experiment turning baseball box scores into traditional stories. In 2011, it raised more than $6 million to study the landscape of how to create “human-free stories.” In 2013, it raised another $11.5 million for further development.
Today, Quill can generate news stories, industry reports and even headlines, all without any human involvement. While its wheelhouse is limited to the confines of data and news reports rather than creative content, it makes up for its lack of creativity with speed. According to MIT Technology, Quill churns out over a million words a day for companies such as Groupon, Forbes, USAA and more.
As we suggested, using AI marketing tools to produce written content on a wide scale will most likely be met with some resistance, not just by writers or marketers, but by the public as well. Do we really want to read about what machines have to say about who won the Bachelor this season, rather than from a human who went through the same emotional journey we did?
While AI solutions may not be able to construct creative content like that just yet, technologies such as Narrative Science’s Quill are trained to learn and “understand” a topic before writing about it. Whereas now it can only take inputted data (such as sports results), it won’t be long until AI marketing programs are able to produce other types of content, similar to the content we already consume every day.
That argument will surely have its day, but what’s more likely to make an impact in the near future is the way AI marketing tools can be used for streamlining certain laborious and less creative tasks.
The effect of AI in marketing
Although we’ve already noted some obvious impacts AI can have on marketing, the possibilities are almost endless. These types of technologies and applications can help with data analysis, reporting accuracy, personalized communication with an increase in operational efficiency and productivity following suit.
As brands continue to refine their innovative techniques and allocate more of their muscle (and budget) toward artificial intelligence initiates, it’s become overwhelmingly clear that the time to understand how AI affects our industry is now, and that it’s time for brands to get on board.
While this may seem daunting, the hard truth is: AI has affected our lives for years, and its impact is only going to keep growing. It’s time to find out how we can apply AI solutions to best serve our customers and continue to deliver unique, personalized experiences.
From machine-learning algorithms that create customized product recommendations and user experiences, to friendly, automated chatbots to facilitate customer support, AI is all around us. And it’s imperative that your marketing department is ready to compete when AI technology starts to become a worldwide, dominant force.
Interested in learning more about how you can further integrate artificial intelligence into the workings of your content marketing strategy? It may be as simple as equipping yourself with the right suite of AI-driven tools. Contact PowerPost today for a free demo of our content platform!