When I started my business, I chose to make my mark by taking an imaginative approach in an industry where traditional communication strategies were the norm. In the earlier days, we did this by using video as a means to pitch. Nowadays, we call that content creation. As a former TV producer, I knew that playing it safe could achieve short-term success, but I knew it wouldn't put my agency in a position to see the bigger picture. Helping my clients succeed means constantly riding the waves of moving media, creative disruption and partnering with leading experts to unlock turn-key solutions.
To stay ahead of the curve, our company recently partnered with a firm specializing in the emotional intelligence of artificial intelligence (AI). By doing so, we are able to use AI to tell us the emotions behind brands. Branding professionals are noticing the importance of how people feel about a product, place or person, and "likes" or clicks aren't always the main indicators.
The Brand Experience Is Evolving
Even though human beings are already surrounded by AI in many ways, we can expect to see more of it: A report by Accenture is projecting AI to double economic growth rates by 2035. Now, more than ever, the landscape has evolved. What was once a forum where advertisers, marketers and traditional storytellers could easily determine their next move with standard research, the success of communications agencies highly depends on their ability to make the brand experience even more personalized.
To do this successfully, agencies need to understand the emotions behind brands and how people feel toward them. Communications used to be predictive: We could post at a certain time of the day to optimize views online, but because algorithms and growth hacking are changing at such a rapid rate, this is no longer possible. The plug-and-play approach is no longer sufficient.
Embracing new technologies helps us make the most of data and analytics to build insights on optimal brand targeting. The goal is to achieve a better understanding of what customers want beyond simple analysis of emotions, and make online communication appear more human.
I recently sat down with Micah Brown, CEO of Centiment, the firm we recently partnered with, to discuss how communications agencies can take advantage of AI. Here's what I learned:
Even though some AI software has been around for years, AI as a whole is still very new to many companies. "For a long time, communications and marketing agencies didn't need to think about AI because the tools weren't really there. Now, the same companies that don't think about it (AI) will simply get left behind," said Brown. AI is highly technical and expertise in the field is needed in order to effectively implement it, so communications agencies might want to consider partnering with firms that have AI competencies.
Experiment With It
All forms of AI need to go through training. "Communications agencies need to go through a beta testing phase before implementing AI in their strategies," said Brown, who recommends conducting beta testing internally first, where a sampling of the product is tested in an environment that doesn't impact clients.
Help Clients Optimally Use It
From its ability to improve processes and personalize marketing strategies, to its ability to allow micro-segmentation in mass communications, the magnitude of possibilities through the use of AI is significant. Within this magnitude, however, communications agencies have to make smart decisions on how to optimally use it to support their clients. Decisions on planning communications strategies will still have to be spearheaded by humans no matter how intelligent machines become.
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