Artificial intelligence: outsourcing thinking.


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?





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. 


Is geofencing right for your business?


As digital marketers, we are always looking for the next best thing. Our clients are too! But just because something is the “next” thing doesn’t always mean it’s the “best” thing for your business. That’s why it’s important to be strategic about which types of digital marketing tactics and channels are used to grow your business.

For those who are new to the world of digital, it may be hard to navigate all the different types of digital marketing tactics, so we thought we’d start off with one that we’ve received quite a few questions about lately: Geofencing.


Geofencing is a location-based service in which an app or other software uses GPS, RFID (radio-frequency identification), Wi-Fi or cellular data to trigger a pre-programmed action when a mobile device or RFID tag enters or exits a virtual boundary set up around a geographical location, known as a geofence.


To make use of geofencing, an administrator or developer must first establish a virtual boundary around a specified location in GPS or RFID-enabled software. To do so, the “fence” must be specified using APIs (application programming interface) when developing the mobile app. This virtual geofence will then trigger a response when an authorized device enters or exits that area, as specified by the administrator or developer. A geofence is most commonly defined within the code of a mobile application, especially since users need to opt-in to location services for the geofence to work.


  • An app/software

  • A “Fence” built into the app/software

    • Specified using APIs (application programming interface) when
      developing the mobile app

  • Users of the app must opt-in to locations services



  • Collect location insights about user’s offline behaviors for audience segmentation, personalization, retargeting, competitive intelligence, and online-to-offline
    (O2O) attribution.

  • Send location-relevant content to mobile users based on their current or recently-visited location, to drive their engagement with the app.



Geofencing can be used in many different ways. Here are some examples of how marketers in various industries already get creative with geofencing:

  • Retail: Sending promotional messages as shoppers pass by a store to drive visits.

  • Automotive: Retargeting users that have visited a car dealership (yours or competitor’s).

  • Coupons: Proving the ROI of coupons using location data to track store visits
    initiated by coupons.

  • Airline: Upselling flyers with fast-track services as they walk in the airport.

  • Mobile payments: Reminding users of places where they can pay as they visit them.

  • Hospitality: Capturing feedback shortly after visitors step out of the hotel.

  • Travel: Enriching user profiles with traveling history to supercharge future targeting.

  • Dining reviews: Suggesting a list of popular dishes to a guest who visits a
    particular restaurant.

  • Coffee chain: Giving discounts to returning customers to build loyalty.

  • Online store: Geo-conquesting competitors locations with deals to lure customers away.



As with everything, geofencing may not fit every company’s mobile marketing strategy. If a marketer can relate themselves to one of the examples below, it’s most likely a fit.

  • My company has brick-and-mortar locations, such as retailers, food & beverage chains, airports, airlines.

  • My company has a strong connection to brick-and-mortar locations, such navigation platforms, travel guides, online retailers with offline competitors.


  • Uber uses geofencing at LAX almost as a defensive measure. That's because private hire cars from networks like Uber aren't licensed to pick up passengers at this airport (apart from the app's luxury service, which is commercially licensed and insured). Therefore, Uber uses a geofence outside of the pickup area, where drivers can wait for fares. When someone walks into Uber's geofence, they will get a notification that says "Welcome to San Francisco. Would you like us to pick you up? There are currently three cars near the airport."

  • A retailer might draw a geofence around its outlets to trigger mobile alerts for customers who have downloaded the retailer’s mobile app. In these cases, a geofence that is managed by the retailer is programmed into the app, and users can opt to decline location access for the app. When a customer walks into the geofence, they will receive notifications informing them of certain promotions happening that day.

  • Taco Bell’s app is a crucial tool in their geofencing marketing plan. Its mobile ordering feature entices users to download it. With the app in place, hungry customers can order from their phones and then simply go pick up their food – no wait. After customers have downloaded the app, the restaurant utilizes geofencing as a way of targeting people under 30 years old with push notifications whenever they are in the vicinity of a Taco Bell. A quick reminder that they can order food from their phone and pick it up two miles down the road was a great way to appeal to the “Want it Now” generation.

  • Starbucks often uses geofencing to remind customers of new drinks and promotions. Anyone who has downloaded the app and opted-in the location services can be targeted through geofencing. The customer just has to walk into the geofenced area, and they will receive a notification from Starbucks on their phone enticing them to stop in for a coffee.





As Media Buyer, Jordan works with all things media to negotiate, purchase and monitor advertising space and airtime on behalf of clients. Prior to Elisco, Jordan worked for Renda Broadcasting - WISH 99.7 FM as an Account Executive, where she managed advertiser accounts and sold radio. She is a graduate from the University of Pittsburgh Greensburg with a B.A. in Communication and Visual and Performing Arts, with concentrations in Media Studies and Theatre.