How To Leverage Artificial Intelligence

I agree with the majority of this commentary except the first sentence of the
“In Conclusion” section, “AI is here to stay. In the next few years, use of visuals in digital marketing will no longer be as effective as it is today”. 

I disagree. 

The amount of information that is accessed, available and pushed to consumers creates a very noisy and complex environment in which to understand the messages. A picture (or visual) is definitely a worth a thousand words. Besides, AI software has already begun interpreting visuals.


COMMENTARY by  , Op-Ed Contributor, July 31, 2017wp-1475470242034.jpg

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the technology advancements that businesses have to deal with when it comes to digital marketing. With AI, computers can perform various human activities like speech recognition, learning, reasoning, problem solving and planning, as well as moving objects. It is through AI that voice-based virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa exist. It is also through AI that we have text-based assistants like Facebook M.

AI wrapped up in smartphones makes it easy for people to search for information without the challenges of reading through reviews or scrolling through search engine results. You can ask the assistants about the day’s weather, where the best burger joint is near you, or whatever else you want. This is just the beginning.

Where Artificial Intelligence Meets Digital Marketing

In digital marketing, certain factors are vital for the delivery of results. For instance, marketers use search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, pay-per-click (PPC) and online PR in their digital marketing processes. AI helps make all these processes easier.

In a few years, marketers can expect AI to play a major role in every stage of their online marketing process. In fact, according to a study by Forrester Research, AI makes up one of the five emerging technologies that are expected to begin changing the world by 2022.

Leverage AI To Ramp Up Your Digital Marketing 

1. Acquire and attract a more targeted audience

Artificial intelligence excels at studying and predicting human behavior. When a person goes online, there is usually a pattern of sites visited. Through these patterns and based on the data the individual provides, an AI-powered program is able to understand the demographics, online behavior and the preferences of a user — thus offering more personalized business insights for effective digital marketing processes.

AI helps to understand each target audience — a trait that is useful in the creation and development of targeted ads, content and personalized software aimed at improving customer experience and attracting new customers.

2. Effectively recommend products and services

Have you ever visited a site that recommends products you wouldn’t even consider using, let alone purchase? It can be frustrating and annoying.

Then comes Amazon, where products recommended match exactly what you are looking for. The ecommerce giant knows how to keep you on the site making purchases you never even planned for. And how do they achieve this? Through AI.

By using algorithms that understand user behavior in a more personalized form, businesses can offer more effective recommendations.

3. Incorporate chatbots in your digital marketing process

From fun-based messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Telegram to more functional platforms, chatbots — computer programs that are powered by AI to interact with people through text messaging — are the present and the future.

With a chatbot, a user can query a business over their products or services to help make a purchase, and instantly get a response. In this way, chatbots help improve customer experience and attract a wide customer base.

By incorporating AI-powered chatbots in your digital marketing strategies, you can guarantee brand awareness and growth in users.

4. Automate the boring marketing tasks

Collecting and analyzing consumer data for the purpose of coming up with a strategy is a strenuous process. The continued rise of AI can help ease this process and reduce the time it takes a human to analyze data.

This can be achieved through gathering insights from analysis on ad performance, social media campaigns, email marketing, and user demographics to automate various marketing functions. By automating these processes, digital marketers can focus on the creativity and implementation stages, making it easy to achieve desired results.

5. Personalize your business website and apps

Customers appreciate when a business understands their personal needs, so a personalized recommendation for similar articles, products or services is important and helps convert customers easily. The same concept is applicable when it comes to general website and application uses.

For instance, when a new user visits your website, they will probably be interested in informational material. A sales page about a product they don’t even understand may not be very appealing and may force them to leave prematurely. On the other hand, a returning visitor will want to see what product or service is new or to read the latest post.

By leveraging AI, you can ensure that content on your website is personalized to every individual user.

In conclusion

AI is here to stay. In the next few years, use of visuals in digital marketing will no longer be as effective as it is today. We are not living in a machine-led world, and machines are not likely to take over the world in the near future.

But AI will gradually take greater control when it comes to functions such as personal assistants, learning and digital processes. So in order to remain relevant, a business must begin to incorporate AI as an extension to its digital marketing processes.

From McKinsey: What ‘digital’ really means

What ‘digital’ really means

Everyone wants to go digital. The first step is truly understanding what that is.

July 2015 | byKarel Dörner and David Edelman

Companies today are rushing headlong to become more digital. But what does digital really mean?

For some executives, it’s about technology. For others, digital is a new way of engaging with customers. And for others still, it represents an entirely new way of doing business. None of these definitions is necessarily incorrect. But such diverse perspectives often trip up leadership teams because they reflect a lack of alignment and common vision about where the business needs to go. This often results in piecemeal initiatives or misguided efforts that lead to missed opportunities, sluggish performance, or false starts.

Even as CEOs push forward with their digital agendas, it’s worth pausing to clarify vocabulary and sharpen language. Business leaders must have a clear and common understanding of exactly what digital means to them and, as a result, what it means to their business (for a deeper look at how companies can develop meaningful digital strategies and drive business performance, see “Raising your Digital Quotient”).

It’s tempting to look for simple definitions, but to be meaningful and sustainable, we believe that digital should be seen less as a thing and more a way of doing things. To help make this definition more concrete, we’ve broken it down into three attributes: creating value at the new frontiers of the business world, creating value in the processes that execute a vision of customer experiences, and building foundational capabilities that support the entire structure.

Creating value at new frontiers

Being digital requires being open to reexamining your entire way of doing business and understanding where the new frontiers of value are. For some companies, capturing new frontiers may be about developing entirely new businesses in adjacent categories; for others, it may be about identifying and going after new value pools in existing sectors.

Unlocking value from emerging growth sectors requires a commitment to understanding the implications of developments in the marketplace and evaluating how they may present opportunities or threats. The Internet of Things, for example, is starting to open opportunities for disrupters to use unprecedented levels of data precision to identify flaws in existing value chains. In the automotive industry, cars connected to the outside world have expanded the frontiers for self-navigation and in-car entertainment. In the logistics industry, the use of sensors, big data, and analytics has enabled companies to improve the efficiency of their supply-chain operations.

At the same time, being digital means being closely attuned to how customer decision journeys are evolving in the broadest sense. That means understanding how customer behaviors and expectations are developing inside and outside your business, as well as outside your sector, which is crucial to getting ahead of trends that can deliver or destroy value.

Creating value in core businesses

Digital’s next element is rethinking how to use new capabilities to improve how customers are served. This is grounded in an obsession with understanding each step of a customer’s purchasing journey—regardless of channel—and thinking about how digital capabilities can design and deliver the best possible experience, across all parts of the business. For example, the supply chain is critical to developing the flexibility, efficiency, and speed to deliver the right product efficiently in a way the customer wants. By the same token, data and metrics can focus on delivering insights about customers that in turn drive marketing and sales decisions.

Critically, digital isn’t about just working to deliver a one-off customer journey. It’s about implementing a cyclical dynamic where processes and capabilities are constantly evolving based on inputs from the customer, fostering ongoing product or service loyalty. Making this happen requires an interconnected set of four core capabilities:

Proactive decision making. Relevance is the currency of the digital age. This requires making decisions, based on intelligence, that deliver content and experiences that are personalized and relevant to the customer. Remembering customer preferences is a basic example of this capability, but it also extends to personalizing and optimizing the next step in the customer’s journey. Data providers such as ClickFox, for example, blend data from multiple channels into one view of what customers are doing and what happens as a result. In the back office, analytics and intelligence provide near-real-time insights into customer needs and behaviors that then determine the types of messages and offers to deliver to the customer.

Contextual interactivity. This means analyzing how a consumer is interacting with a brand and modifying those interactions to improve the customer experience. For example, the content and experience may adapt as a customer shifts from a mobile phone to a laptop or from evaluating a brand to making a purchasing decision. The rising number of customer interactions generates a stream of intelligence that allows brands to make better decisions about what their customers want. And the rapid rise of wearable technology and the Internet of Things represents the latest wave of touchpoints that will enable companies to blend digital and physical experiences even more.

Real-time automation. To support this cyclical give-and-take dynamic with customers and help them complete a task now requires extensive automation. Automation of customer interactions can boost the number of self-service options that help resolve problems quickly, personalize communications to be more relevant, and deliver consistent customer journeys no matter the channel, time, or device. Automating the supply chain and core business processes can drive down costs, but it’s also crucial to providing companies with more flexibility to respond to and anticipate customer demand.

Journey-focused innovation. Serving customers well gives companies permission to be innovative in how they interact with and sell to them. That may include, for example, expanding existing customer journeys into new businesses and services that extend the relationship with the customer, ideally to the benefit of both parties. These innovations in turn fuel more interactions, create more information, and increase the value of the customer-brand relationship.

Building foundational capabilities

The final element of our definition of digital is about the technological and organizational processes that allow an enterprise to be agile and fast. This foundation is made up of two elements:

Mind-sets. Being digital is about using data to make better and faster decisions, devolving decision making to smaller teams, and developing much more iterative and rapid ways of doing things. Thinking in this way shouldn’t be limited to just a handful of functions. It should incorporate a broad swath of how companies operate, including creatively partnering with external companies to extend necessary capabilities. A digital mind-set institutionalizes cross-functional collaboration, flattens hierarchies, and builds environments to encourage the generation of new ideas. Incentives and metrics are developed to support such decision-making agility.

System and data architecture. Digital in the context of IT is focused on creating a two-part environment that decouples legacy systems—which support critical functions and run at a slower pace—from those that support fast-moving, often customer-facing interactions. A key feature of digitized IT is the commitment to building networks that connect devices, objects, and people. This approach is embodied in a continuous-delivery model where cross-functional IT teams automate systems and optimize processes to be able to release and iterate on software quickly.

Digital is about unlocking growth now. How companies might interpret or act on that definition will vary, but having a clear understanding of what digital means allows business leaders to develop a shared vision of how it can be used to capture value.

About the authors

Karel Dörner is a principal in McKinsey’s Munich office, and David Edelman is a principal in the Boston office.

State of Marketing 2014

Buyer Personas 101: How to Build the Perfect Profile

Buyer Personas 101: How to Build the Perfect Profile

2014 Digital Marketing Landscape: Benchmarks

‘Digital marketing is dead’ proclaims Procter & Gamble’s global brand building officer Marc Pritchard

 18 September 2013 – 6:38pm Updated
Originally posted by Stephen Lepitak
Pricepoints! concurs without reservation.


Pricepoints! CMO’s know that the key success factors begin and end with customers (behavior, attitudes, etc etc). The velocity of digital technology innovation (growth of devices, explosion of touch points, and engagements) has added complex layers of new customer data (opportunities). The key success factor for brands is in the knowledge of their customer, it all starts and ends strategic insights.

Customer experience management begins with the customer experinece (CX) journey map. Many brands have already begun this process in order to gain competitive advantage (i.e. “first to learn, first to earn”). These “walk a mile in your customers shoes as customers” SWOT audits that define the CX key drivers are priceless.6072ce77-590a-4df5-b3d9-3f3c167bd5ae

Ok, back to the quote. It certainly gets your attention and makes you step back and get grounded in the customer insights that drive the marketing mix strategies first. I will step back and let the thought leader speak for himself.

Speaking at Dmexco, the chief marketer from the world’s largest advertiser, asked; “Try and resist thinking about digital in terms of the tools, the platforms, the QR Codes and all of the technology coming next. We [Procter & Gamble] try and see it for what it is, which is a tool for engaging people with fresh, creative campaigns…the era of digital marketing is over. It’s almost dead. It’s now just brand building. It’s what we do.”

He made this statement after running a video advertisement for a Braun electric shaver that initially ran online only, ignoring all traditional marketing, driving sales before running through traditional media.

“It wasn’t the digital component. It was the campaign,” he declared, explaining that it prove to the company what could be achieved in the digital world.

“This is a mindset that we are trying to infuse in our company and it’s creating a tremendous shift [within P&G.] It’s freeing up our minds on building creative ideas that come to life through the mediums that we engage with every single day – search, social, mobile, PR, and yes, even TV.”

He continued to describe the strategy as ‘Digital Back’, explaining; “start in the digital world and build your way back to the rest of the marketing mix. Our best agencies do that right now…it’s an approach that is building our brand equities, our sales and our profits.”

He said that digital technology was a “means to reach people” through brands and capture consumer imaginations in a way that had been impossible before.

“But we can only do that if we have this one component that has been a constant since the beginning of brand building – an idea. Fresh creative ideas that are powered by insights, that are powered by the way people think and feel and are inspired by creativity, always have and always will create great campaigns. Digital tools just give us a new way to spread those ideas in ways that we’ve never imagined before…great ideas matter more now than they ever have before, because with these digital tools at our disposal we have the chance to be successful widely beyond whatever we had imagined.”

Pritchard continued to explore some of his company’s brands and how they had utilised new technology, powered by ideas to be a global success, including Old Spice, Vella Koleston and Oral B work.

Discussing the ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ Old Spice online campaign led to Pritchard offering the insight that “brand insight shouldn’t be something you change with every new campaign.”

He continued: “You should find that insight and invest in it to the best if your brand’s ability,” before running several stages of the campaign to explore its evolution.

Pritchard concluded the talk by imploring the room to “build brands with campaigns that matter, make people think and feel and laugh. We have the chance to do all of those things now in a way that is so much more exciting than we did before. So let’s celebrate the end, the death of digital marketing and let’s focus on celebrating the great idea of these brands and let’s leverage the platforms and technologies that allow us to engage with people like we never have before. I’m certain that our brand building teams, our agencies and the people who see our stuff all around the world will thank us for it.”

Pritchard’s views on the importance of the need for creativity echoed those of Keith Weed, CMO for Unilever earlier in the day, who spoke about the need to use mobile, social and data to help develop more engaging campaigns.


J.D. Power Automotive Brand Websites Drive Trials

NEW YORK: New car shoppers are significantly more likely to test drive a vehicle if they have had a good experience on an automaker’s website, new research has found.

The 2013 Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study, from J.D. Power, the market researcher, measured the usefulness of automotive manufacturer websites for shoppers, based on information and content, navigation, appearance and speed.

It found that, among those car shoppers who said they were ‘delighted’ with a website, 72% said they were more likely to test drive a vehicle as a result. But just 25% of the shoppers left ‘disappointed’ with a website said the same.

“Finding the right balance of content, ease of navigation and site speed is what ultimately drives new-vehicle shopper satisfaction with the website,” said Arianne Walker, senior director of media & marketing solutions at J.D. Power.

“While there are some common elements across all websites, each site should have a unique look and feel and align with the brand’s image.”

A website that works well across all platforms is another important factor, as consumers were found to be using a variety of devices to look at sites. A large majority (92%) of new-vehicle shoppers who own a tablet, or own both a tablet and a smartphone, expect to have the same content available on a desktop website on all devices.

“The industry has generally chosen to maintain two sites, rather than a third one for tablet shoppers, reducing the burden of maintaining and keeping information updated and consistent across three separate sites,” Walker added.
Elsewhere in the J.D. Power report, Daimler’s Smart brand website was the online property ranked highest in overall satisfaction, with sites from Jeep, Lincoln and Acura rounding out the top four.

Data sourced from J.D. Power and Associates; additional content by Warc staff, 31 January 2013

Nielson Report Gauges Companies’ Approach to Advertising on Social Media

NYT Media

Nielson Report Gauges Companies’ Approach to Advertising on Social Media


Since the arrival of social media platforms, companies have tried to figure out how to best use them to get their messages to consumers, often with mixed results. Some brands have embraced the notion that social platforms like Twitter allow constant interaction, for better or worse, with their customers.

Others have turned away from some strains of social media, as General Motors did last spring when it stopped advertising on Facebook while raising questions about the return on its investment. The move had a ripple effect in the advertising world, with many brands questioning whether the costs of being on social media were worth it.

A new report issued Tuesday by Nielsen and Vizu, a research company owned by Nielsen, shows that brands think they might be turning a corner, specifically when it comes to paying for their use of social media.The report examined the opinions about social media marketing among more than 500 digital media professionals — including brand marketers, media agencies and advertisers — from September to October 2012.

The study found that that 89 percent of advertisers continued to use free social media products. Nielsen did not release the names of specific social media platforms mentioned by the respondents, but they are likely to include Facebook and Pinterest, as well as Twitter.

Three quarters of the companies surveyed said they were also spending more for social media content, which could include paying bloggers to write posts about a product or using third-party technology to push videos on to the Web in the hope that they become viral.

Seventy percent of the advertisers surveyed said they dedicated up to 10 percent of their budget to paid social media advertising, while 13 percent dedicated more than 21 percent of their budget. Those numbers are expected to increase in 2013.

The results come as companies like Twitter and Facebook are making more diverse advertising options available to brands. Last year, Twitter announced a number of advertising and media initiatives, including a survey product that enables marketers to ask Twitter users a handful of multiple-choice questions. Facebook began testing a new advertising mechanism using a technology called real-time bidding, which allows advertisers to place bids on ad space at specific times.

“Advertisers are starting to look at social media as an integrated part of their advertising strategy,” said Jeff Smith, the senior vice president of product leadership for advertising effectiveness at Nielsen.

Still, companies retained some skepticism about social media strategy, the survey showed. While companies may expect to spend more to market their brands, they also want to be able to quantify the results of their campaigns. A third of the advertisers surveyed said they were unsure about the effectiveness of social media. The same percentage said they were unsure how to measure the return on their investment.

The majority of advertisers surveyed, 42 percent, said they wanted to measure their online campaigns using the same tools they use for offline campaigns, like sales generated and gross ratings points, while adding more measurement tools specific to digital campaigns, including “likes” and click-throughs.

Advertisers are able to tailor ads to specific groups of online users using cookies and other technologies, but they have often relied on whether consumers click on those ads as the main form of measuring how effective those ads have been.

At the Advertising Week gathering last year, Facebook announced that it was moving away from counting clicks as a metric and moving toward a measurement similar to the gross rating point used in television. The company said it was able to tell whether an ad was effective by combining data on when the ad was shown to a user with data about whether products had been sold. The move is meant to help what is known as “brand advertisers,” whose goals may be less tangible than those of direct response advertisers.

A Facebook representative declined to discuss the company’s paid advertising business. Facebook will announce its fourth-quarter earnings on Wednesday.

via Report Gauges Companies’ Approach to Advertising on Social Media –

You’ve likely heard the adage that data is the new oil.

by Ben Plomion
VP, Marketing & Partnerships

Article Highlights:

  • Programmatic marketing is the future of digital advertising.
  • When done right, programmatic marketing helps you serve ads to only those users who are likely to convert.
  • CMOs will find themselves wrestling for control of first-party data—crucial for programmatic marketing—with their CTOs.

In this metaphor, marketers play a crucial role in digging for and collecting data about users—from the pages they visit, to the items they search for, to the social graphs they share with—and refining it to deliver unique and relevant messages. We call this new practice “programmatic marketing,” and it’s the future of digital advertising.

How Programmatic Works
You may already be familiar with one of the most common types of programmatic marketing: retargeting. This marketing tactic allows you to target past visitors to your site with relevant display ads as they browse the Web, and it’s the go-to strategy when you want to extract maximum value from an existing customer.

However, retargeting has evolved during the past few years or so, and there are now more than seven types to retarget users. The most exciting of these is programmatic site retargeting, or PSR. By crunching an array of data points, such as traffic source, some retargeting companies are building a PSR score for each visitor that tells them how much to bid to serve that visitor a display ad.

When you want to attract new customers, another type of programmatic marketing is search retargeting. With search retargeting, you can target people—including people who have never visited your site—with display ads based on the keywords they’ve entered into search engines. The technique is uniquely effective because, as with standard search engine marketing, it leverages the power of intent that’s revealed by online searches.

Media buying, however, is only one application of programmatic marketing. For B2B marketers, it can also be a great way to optimize the content you serve prospects during their first visits to your company’s site. For example, if a potential client lands on a design agency’s site after reading an article the agency’s CEO wrote about HTML 5 vs. mobile apps, then the agency might display information on the home page about its mobile Web expertise, thus increasing its chances of landing the prospect.

This same strategy can also work across multiple company sites. Years ago when I worked at GE Capital, my team was looking for ways to increase conversions on our credit-card page. Our plan was to show our credit-card offer to users on our various company sites who had visited our credit-card section without converting. Frustratingly, the technology wasn’t quite ready at the time, but today savvy companies can easily tailor their offerings to specific customers.

One of the key advantages of programmatic marketing is the ability to eliminate display waste. When done right, programmatic marketing helps you serve ads to only those users who are likely to convert, increasing media efficiency and driving down media costs in the process.

In addition, programmatic marketing allows you to optimize the user experience on your site. As mentioned above, the content on a site can be tailored to a user’s browsing or search history. This is the future of business sites, where every visit is as unique to visitors as their very own Flipboard.

Last, the potential for hypertargeted email marketing is astounding and currently underestimated. When you marry behavior data (the products consumers see on a retailer’s site) with CRM data (previous transactional data), it’s a recipe for a big boost in sales.

Programmatic marketing is an exciting, new technology, but it doesn’t come without challenges for CMOs. At many companies, CMOs will find themselves wrestling for control of first-party data—crucial for programmatic marketing—with their CTOs.

Once you take control of your data, data aggregation becomes the next hurdle. Data management platforms (DMPs) are a good solution for this because they skillfully integrate the first- and third-party data you need to successfully execute your programmatic marketing plan.

Next, you want to avoid hiring multiple retargeting vendors, even though it’s tempting to do so in order to achieve scale. When you have multiple retargeting vendors working off of the same data, they’ll end up bidding against each other and driving up the price of impressions.

Finally, privacy is key. CMOs need to make sure that there’s a strong privacy policy in place so that every customer’s data is anonymous and secure.

Latest Evolution
A few retargeting companies recently partnered with Facebook to allow marketers on FBX, the Facebook ad exchange, to target users based on the keywords they’ve entered into search engines. While the venture is new, the early returns have been very promising. Since Facebook accounts for 25 percent of all U.S. page views, advertisers can expect that FBX will carry search re-targeting into the mainstream.

Programmatic marketing, in other words, can no longer be ignored. CMOs must embrace it, implement it, and become comfortable with it.