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”.
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 Asim Mughal , Op-Ed Contributor, July 31, 2017
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.
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.
Linden Lab has opened the creator beta version of its Sansar social virtual reality platform to the public. It’s all part of a larger vision to bring us the Metaverse, the immersive virtual world that sci-fi fans have dreamed about for decades.
After four years of development, the San Francisco company that brought us the Second Life virtual world is now moving into VR with Sansar, which already has hundreds of user-generated VR experiences available in the Sansar marketplace.
Sansar empowers just about anyone — individuals, communities, schools, studios, corporations, brands, and others — to easily create, share, and ultimately sell immersive 3D social experiences for consumers to enjoy, said Bjorn Laurin, vice president of product for Sansar, in an interview with GamesBeat.
“It’s a very exciting day for us that represents four years of work,” he said.
Sansar’s open beta comes just days after another social VR platform, AltspaceVR, announced it was shutting down on August 3. That company had 35,000 users, but it ran out of money. Such is the nature of the VR market, which is taking off more slowly than people hoped. Sansar will still have plenty of rivals, such as Roblox, Facebook, and others.
Sansar is available on the HTC Vive VR headset, the Oculus Rift, and Windows PCs. While Second Life exists as a virtual world that you have to log into, Sansar is a collection of experiences. Creators can build an experience and share it as a link on social media, and people can go directly into it. That makes Sansar creations much more accessible to everybody, Laurin said.
“Sansar democratizes social VR,” said Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab, in a statement. “Until now, complexity and cost [have] limited who could create and publish in this medium, and Sansar dramatically changes that. It’s been inspiring to see the thousands of virtual creations that have already published with Sansar during our limited preview, and I’m looking forward to the explosion of creativity we’ll see now that we’ve opened the doors in beta.”
At opening, Sansar’s Atlas directory already has hundreds of virtual experiences, including multiplayer games, recreations of historic sites and landmarks, art installations, movie theaters, museums, narrative experiences, jungle temples, 360-degree video domes, sci-fi themed hangouts, and more.
Creators invited to the platform during a limited-access preview have published thousands of amazing public and private experiences, and with the opening of beta today, the world is now invited to join them. More than 14,000 people applied, but Linden Lab limited the number to about 3,000.
Linden Lab developed tools that make creating things in Sansar more intuitive. It has drag-and-drop editing, making it easy to create a scene with assets imported from common 3D modeling tools or purchased from the Sansar Store.
With the push of a button, creations become hosted multi-person experiences that consumers using VR head-mounted displays (HMDs) — as well as desktop mode on PCs — can enjoy. Every Sansar experience has a unique link that people can share via Facebook, Twitter, email, and blogs.
Each instance of an experience is currently set to allow 35 concurrent avatars, and automated instancing will enable creators to reach unlimited audiences. Laurin said that will hit 100 avatars per instance by the end of the year.
Many thousands of creations are already in existence, but not everyone has made their experiences public, Laurin said.
Avatars, or your personalized characters, have a wide variety of customization options. Sansar also provides rich social interactions without requiring additional hardware like cameras and trackers. An integration with Speech Graphics’ technology provides accurate avatar lip-syncing and facial animations, driven in real time as users speak into the microphones on their HMDs or audio headsets. Through VR hand controllers, avatars can realistically mirror people’s hand and arm movements, thanks to an integration of IKinema’s RunTime middleware, the full-body inverse kinematics technology.
With Sansar, creators can earn money from their virtual creations by selling them in the Sansar Store. In the future, creators will also be able to rent or charge for access to their experiences. At the opening of beta, the Sansar Store features thousands of items for sale from creators around the world.
A relationship with TurboSquid provides creators with access to hundreds of additional high-quality 3D models in the Store today, with thousands more being added in the coming months. Planned integration with TurboSquid’s StemCell initiative will make it easy for TurboSquid’s community of 3D modelers to immediately upload and sell their creations in the Sansar Store, further augmenting the assets readily available to Sansar creators.
Sansar is free to use, with additional capacity and customer support available to creators through paid subscriptions, starting at $9.99 per month. Linden Lab started in 1999, and its Second Life platform became the largest-ever virtual world filled entirely with the creations of its users.
With Sansar, the company wanted to make the experience more accessible and reach broader audiences.
“For those who are familiar with 3D creation, it could take a day or two to make an experience,” Laurin said. “But everyone can do it. I was walking around in a VR redwood forest the other day, and we got lost in it. That’s how big the experiences can become. We will see exciting things in the weeks and months and years ahead.”
Thank you Dean Takahashi!
PUSH NOTIFICATIONS ARE ruining my life. Yours too, I bet. Download more than a few apps and the notifications become a non-stop, cacophonous waterfall of nonsense. Here’s just part of an afternoon on my phone:
“Hi David! We found new Crown jewels and Bottle caps Pins for you!”
“Everyone’s talking about Bill Nye’s new book, Everything All at Once. Read a free sample.”
“Alex just posted for the first time in a while.”
I get notifications when an acquaintance comments on a stranger’s Facebook posts, when shows I don’t care about come to Netflix, and every single day at 6 PM when the crossword puzzle becomes available. Recently, I got a buzz from my close personal friends at Yelp. “We found a hot new business for you,” it said. I opened the notification, on the off chance that Yelp had finally found the hot new business I’ve been waiting for. It did not. So I closed Yelp, stared into space for a second, and then opened Instagram. Productivity over.
Over the last few years, there’s been an increasingly loud call for a re-evaluation of the relationship between humans and smartphones. For all the good that phones do, their grip on our eyes, ears, and thoughts creates real and serious problems. “I know when I take [technology] away from my kids what happens,” Tony Fadell, a former senior VP at Apple who helped invent both the iPod and the iPhone, said in a recent interview. “They literally feel like you’re tearing a piece of their person away from them. They get emotional about it, very emotional. They go through withdrawal for two to three days.”
There’s a solution, though: Kill your notifications. Yes, really. Turn them all off. (You can leave on phone calls and text messages, if you must, but nothing else.) You’ll discover that you don’t miss the stream of cards filling your lockscreen, because they never existed for your benefit. They’re for brands and developers, methods by which thirsty growth hackers can grab your attention anytime they want. Allowing an app to send you push notifications is like allowing a store clerk to grab you by the ear and drag you into their store. You’re letting someone insert a commercial into your life anytime they want. Time to turn it off.
Push and Pull
Originally, push notifications were designed to keep you out of your phone rather than constantly drawing you in. When BlackBerry launched push email in 2003, users rejoiced: They didn’t need to constantly check their inbox for fear they’d miss important messages. When email comes, BlackBerry promised, your phone will tell you. Until then, don’t worry about it.
Apple made push a system-wide feature in 2008, and Google did the same soon after. Suddenly, there was a way for anyone to jump into your phone when they wanted your attention. Push notifications proved to be a marketer’s dream: They’re functionally impossible to tell apart from a text or email without looking, so you have to look before you can dismiss. “Push messages serve an important role in an app’s user engagement,” digital marketing company Localytics wrote in 2015, “and there are no signs pointing to a decrease any time soon.”
In fairness, the platforms and companies responsible for this mess have tried intermittently to clean up. The Apple Watch was initially conceived as a way to keep you off your phone, offering clever filters and even adaptive vibrations to help differentiate between notifications you care about and those you don’t. Instead, the Watch turned your wrist into yet another buzzable surface, this one even harder to ignore. After years of torturing users, Apple finally made it easier to dismiss all your notifications at once. Meanwhile, Google recently simplified the process of turning off notifications for specific apps, and plans in the next version of Android to give users more control over which notifications they want to receive at all.
And still, you could see how it could easily be better. You could tell Outlook to notify you only when you get something from your boss or partner. You could say “never send me coupons,” and ask every app to comply. You could have some notifications come through during work and shut off when you get home. Facebook could figure out who you actually care about, and notify you accordingly. In every case, that would lead to fewer and better notifications. Great for you, bad for the companies trying to steal your attention.
At this point, notification management is a losing battle. News companies send more and more, trying to get you into their apps rather than their competitors. Games beg you to play more, so you’ll spend more on in-app purchases. Ad-based apps need you to open the app so you’ll see the ads. You can turn off all the Facebook notifications you don’t want (assuming you can figure out how) but Facebook will just invent and opt you into new types. There’s no incentive for anyone to slow the pace of pushes, not even Google or Apple, who are just as happy when you look at your phone. Nothing’s going to get better without your interference.
Peace and Quiet
Neither Android nor iOS offers an easy way to turn off notifications en-masse. In both cases, you have to dive deep into Settings, then go app-by-app to turn them off. It’s a massive pain, but completely worthwhile. Throw on an episode of Glow (which my notifications tell me is now available on Netflix, by the way) and just hammer through. Turn off notifications on all the social apps, the shopping apps, the fitness apps, the notifications from Netflix, Spotify, and Kindle. If you want to leave texting, phone calls, and WhatsApp, fine. Everything else has to go.
If you absolutely can’t handle the idea of missing notifications, here’s an alternative: On iOS, turn off everything except “Show in Notification Center.” No sounds, no badges, no lock screen, no banner alerts. Nothing will interrupt you, but all the notifications will still appear when you pull down the windowshade. On Android, you can choose “Show Silently,” a similar setup.
It’s not like turning off notifications shuts you out from using the apps you like. It just puts you back in control; you’re on your phone when you want to be, not when Amazon’s data says you’re likely to buy stuff. I still check Twitter all the time, but I’m not forcibly thrust into Twitter because four people happened to like someone’s photo. Apps like Instagram and Facebook are built to show you the best stuff every time you open the app—you won’t miss much by ignoring notifications. And if not getting notifications means you forget to even open the app or check your phone for a while? Well, you’re welcome.
I turned off notifications on every app on my phone, save for a handful: phone, texts, and my calendar, plus Outlook and Slack, because I’m addicted to work. I’m a far happier person for it. You might think I’m crazy, that I’m missing all the good stuff happening in the world because nothing alerts me anymore. Feel free to tell me all about it! I’ll see it next time I check Twitter. Which will be when I feel like it, and not one second before.
First, this is a copy of a blog post from Scott Brinker, who continues to provide invaluable strategic insights as a thought leader in the world of marketing technology. Thank you Scott!
I know, you get asked to participate in a ton of surveys. You’re super busy, and most of the time, the results of these studies are of dubious value to your actual work. So it’s easy to pass on taking them.
But if you like the content of my blog, and have ever found it helpful, I’d personally ask you to participate in this survey: Marketing Organizations in the Age of Martech.
I also believe that the results of this one may be quite valuable to you.
The thesis of this study is that marketing technology is reshaping the organization of the marketing department. Directly, marketing technology and marketing operations have become prominent roles, with expanding teams of their own.
But indirectly, martech also changes the way the rest of marketing is able to function. Marketing can — if it develops the necessary organizational capital — orchestrate across channels, adapt to feedback in rapid fashion, leverage data from a myriad of sources, run experiments, trial new innovations, and more.
In this new environment, is marketing best served by organizing around activities, channels, products, customer segments, or stages of the buyer’s journey? Or some other structure? What capabilities does it centralize?
Having talked to many CMOs over the past few months, I’ve come to believe that there are some powerful new options for organizing modern marketing teams. I’d love for us as a community to get greater visibility into what those possibilities look like across a variety of real-world marketing departments.
This survey, Marketing Organizations in the Age of Martech, asks you for three pieces of your organizational structure (titles or roles only, no names):
- What roles report to your CMO (or highest-level marketing executive)?
- Who is in charge of marketing technology management and what roles report to them?
- Who is in charge of marketing operations — if that’s a separate role from marketing technology — and what roles report to them?
You don’t have to identify yourself or your company to participate. And all data will be aggregated and anonymized before it is published. But we will share the results at the end with everyone in the community — no paywall or high-priced report at the end. We’ll do some nice visualizations to reveal the different org patterns that we discover.
As an extra little “thank you,” we will also provide everyone who completes the survey with a discount code for the upcoming MarTech conference in Boston, October 2-4.
Please. Take 10 minutes to contribute to this survey now. Thank you!!
P.S. The marketing org chart shown at the top of this post is an amalgamation of several of the common structures that I’ve seen recently. But this Marketing Organizations in the Age of Martech study will give us a lot more real-world data on the different structures being used.
Please participate — thank you!