Artificial intelligence: outsourcing thinking.

 
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As advancements in technology rapidly push us further into the future, businesses will continue to utilize the latest tech to optimize their day-to-day functions. Artificial Intelligence systems, or AI for short, are enabling computers, gadgets, and machines to learn, think, and react to data in the same manner that humans do. AI systems are already beginning to have an imprint on the way we live. Do you remember that Uber you called last Saturday night? An AI system was used to determine the ride fare. How about the spam filter in your Gmail account? Yup, that was also a product of machine learning. Have you ever noticed how Facebook can recognize faces in uploaded photos? That’s because they taught a computer how to look for them. Don’t panic though – robots that can think and act on their own accord are still a product of fiction. However, marketing agencies are beginning to delegate some of their daily tasks to AI systems.

Big Data

Big Data is the gathering and storage of large amounts of information from various sources at various speeds and in various formats. Needless to say, big data is big – too big for humans to process and utilize without the aid of a computer. AI systems can be used to identify trends, analyze them, and then rearrange the data into comprehensible reports that marketers can then use to make decisions. Advertisements are now smarter than ever before. Let’s say that Tommy is the owner of a successful local pizza shop. He’s making a killing on deliveries, but he wants people to start coming to his physical restaurant. Tommy could utilize Big Data in conjunction with an AI system, such as Google AdWords, to get online customers through the door. Here’s how it works:

  • Tommy wants people to dine-in at his pizza shop, so he creates a mobile coupon for 20% off any dine-in order.
  • Tommy creates his AdWords campaign, and targets the coupon to mobile users, within a 10-mile radius of his store, that search for things like “pizza,” “food near me” and “Italian food.”
  • Users that fit his targeting criteria see an advertisement Saying “20% off! Dine-In at Tommy’s Pizzeria!” which can then be redeemed for a discount on dinner.

You might be wondering: How does he know that the advertisement reached his target? Well, that’s because Google AdWords took care of that for him. In return, he saw a 15% increase in dine-in customers that day. While it’s not as cut-and-dry as Tommy had it, the process is simple. Marketers create their ads, place a monetary bid on the advertising space, and then add extensions (location, call, mobile, etc.). Google AdWords combines all of this information, and in real-time, creates a ranking of display ads based on which ones are most likely to result in a conversion.

Speaking our Language

While the idea of a computer writing an elaborate novel with plot twists and character arcs may be years in the future, AI systems are already able to have simple conversations in real-time. Online customer service chatbots are almost entirely artificial now, allowing for nearly instant replies to customer complaints. The credibility of these bots is questionable; however, they can be used to help customers solve basic problems. It is estimated that around 20% of all business content will be machine-written. Google has taken the idea of a customer service chatbot a huge step forward. Enter Google Duplex: Google’s brand-new language interpreter making its way to your Google assistant device. While Google has its sights set on a fully automated speech robot that sounds natural, and can understand and respond to genuine speech, right now Duplex is an awesome way to schedule reservations and appointments without manually doing so. Duplex uses a combination of several text-to-speech (TTS) engines to control is intonation to sound as natural as possible. It even says filler-words like “hmm” and “uhh” whenever it’s calculating its response. If you know that you’re hearing Duplex and not a human prior to listening, it’s easy to tell that a robot is talking. However, if you’re on the other end of a staticky phone in a busy restaurant, you may not even think twice about it when Duplex requests a table for 2. You can listen for yourself here.

Looking to the Future

No, you don’t have to update your resume and start job hunting just yet. For every action that can be done by AI systems, a human has to oversee, analyze, and approve it. Every time an AI system is used to analyze a set of data, a marketer must interpret and apply that data to a project. For every Facebook post written by a machine, a Director of Social Media must evaluate the content, edit, and post it. AI systems, while already very advanced, are still in their infancy, and are tools that marketers can use to their advantage. Think of all this data as a foreign language and the AI system as a translator – there still needs to be humans, like the ones here at Elisco’s Creative Café, on the other end to translate to. Is this a good time to mention we’re Google certified?

 

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Joe Novak, Business Development Intern

Joe is currently working toward a B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing at California University of Pennsylvania. He is the President of the Student Marketing Association at Cal U—a group that he has been an active member in throughout his undergrad career. Now entering his senior year, Joe is looking to the future; he hopes to one day have a career in advertising, working in an agency setting.