Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Marketing

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning have been science fiction terms for most of our lives. The term AI was coined in 1956, but early AI and machine learning projects were focused around the United States Department of Defense. However, within the past decade, this technology has become more commonplace in everyday life. The days of chess-playing computers which mimicked basic human reasoning have been surpassed by self-driving cars and state-of-the-art medical applications which can show probabilities of illnesses.

Let’s take, for example, this past holiday season’s top selling gift, the home speaker with built-in AI.  Google Home and Amazon’s Echo were at the top of many consumers’ gift lists.  Now more homes than ever have some sort of AI device located right inside.  While these devices come in handy to solve a trivia problem or help you determine the weather for the week, they can potentially be used in other ways for advertisers. An Amazon patent shows the company could instruct the Echo to listen for trigger words, like a discussion about vacation destinations.  It would then transcribe that conversation and use it to try and sell the device’s user a related product.

Applications such as Pandora already offer AI and machine learning through their app.  They do this by suggesting songs which are similar to those already played and “liked” by the user.  Advertisers can also display advertising to users based on the songs and genres they listen to.
This type of consumer targeting is also already available through other Pay-Per-Click-style campaigns such as AdWords.  Google is able to profile people based on their past searches to show relevant ads to them in future internet sessions.

AI may even be picked up by other industries.  For example, the retail industry could offer AI integration into a better customer experience through online shopping similar to what Amazon already does with the “You might also be interested in” link on their page. This shows the customer other goods which are similar or were also purchased with the product.  Netflix uses this same AI technology in offering up other programming which would be of interest to you.  Machine learning is also seen in the use of the Nest device to control your home.  The device learns your family’s motions throughout your home and adapts based on your own usage.  Lights can turn on/off automatically and rooms can adjust temperature based on when you are and are not home to save energy costs.   These are just some of the ways in which AI is being incorporated into our current lives.

AI and machine learning are all about gathering data and processing it to show algorithms of the things we do as humans every day.   A trend we are seeing is the use of AI and machine learning in the workplace.   We have all had the chance to talk to an automated phone answering service in the past.  These phone applications gather pertinent data to direct you in the path you need to go. This is taking the place of switchboard operators in most large companies.

AI is also working its way into the software we use at work.  Tax and accounting software are used to predict and catch fraud errors before they get to be larger problems.  Facebook is also starting to incorporate this type of software into their own algorithms.  The company is increasing the usage of its face recognition system when posting photos.  Not only can Facebook assist in tagging photos you upload, but your face will be able to be recognized in other people’s photos as well.

There is no doubt that AI and Machine learning are the way of the future, taking time-consuming tasks and completing them in record time.  Mass data is more readily available, and now we have the tools to better use it with AI.  With that being said, don’t be scared that some sort of AI will take away all of the jobs in our society.  The human touch will still be needed as machines are still machines.  They are not programmed with reasoning or emotion—which in most industries is still a critical part of the consumer experience.   We at BPM are excited to see all of the new roles AI and machine learning will play in the coming years.