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Chatbots the 'next step' into AI in 2017

News, 14 December 2016
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LONDON: Artificial intelligence (AI) is set to deliver marketing opportunities around insight generation, chatbots, digital personal assistants and optimisation of media buying in the coming year, according to a Warc report

Warc's Toolkit 2017 notes that machine learning, a specific area of AI, already has many applications across the marketing process, in speeding up data mining and analysis, for example, or in optimising programmatic media buying.

Chatbots, meanwhile, are regarded the 'next step' into AI for many marketers, and will become key touchpoints for service brands, the Toolkit states. (Non-subscribers can download a sample of this Toolkit chapter here.)

Chatbots are increasingly common within messaging apps, where they are able to handle a 'conversation' between a consumer and a brand – which Hugo Pinto, Innovation Services Leader EMEA for IBM Interactive Experience, describes as "an extension of owned media".

And beyond messaging apps, products like Amazon's Echo are opening up more ways for brands and consumers to interact.

"All these new user interfaces are going to enable brands to have new dialogues in new contexts," Pinto told Warc.

But marketers also need to understand that these will add another layer of complexity. "You have one more channel where you have to collect data and one more channel where you have to replicate the engagements with clients."

Just how brands achieve a consistency of experience across all these channels is going to be problematic. Moving from TV to digital is relatively easy as they're both screen-based, Pinto noted, but "how do you browse a catalogue through voice?"

Consumers may not have to. Within the next 12 months, he suggested, they will start to expect to, for example, simply ask a chatbot for clothing recommendations based on where, when and why they're going somewhere.

And it will have to be able deliver those based on a combination of personal shopping history, weather at the destination and local fashion preferences.

"That's going to be a massive change in how brands interact with their customers," Pinto said.

Data sourced from Warc

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