2 Jul 2018

The Disruptors of the Future

How AI inspires intelligent brand experiences to drive choice.

JENNIFER VOLMER, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, STRATEGY, NEW YORK

When you really think about it, how many times a day do you make a decision? Some research claims that the average person makes around 70 decisions while others agree that the number is in the thousands. According to one study, we make 200 daily decisions about food alone. It’s no wonder there is such a thing as “decision fatigue”, which can impact our ability to make good decisions.

Over time, many of our decisions become habitual; we’re no longer making conscious decisions, but rather, we’re fulfilling a habit. Each time you purchase a loaf of bread, you might not want to go through the entire consideration process for countless variables, like flavour, texture, ingredients, nutrition, and price. If you’re like me, maybe you simply pick up the same brand of bread each time you visit your local grocer.

This is why brand experiences are so important and why, whether B2B or B2C, brands are constantly deconstructing the decision-making process in order to deliver a better experience to their customers. These decisions are shrouded in data and when brands leverage that data in the right way, it can lead to new experiences that are useful for each person. These better experiences then grow into habits. At its best, a brand can make each decision easier for customers or remove one decision from their daily agendas.

That’s why AI’s potential seems so limitless. By quickly understanding and using data to create better experiences, AI can become a powerful conduit for brands to seamlessly serve individual customers.

Yes, many brands are already creating impactful experiences for their customers every day, but these experiences could still be more authentic, purposeful, personalized and effective. Today’s challenge is to determine, informed by data, what will yield the most intelligent brand experience and produce the best results for customers, companies, and economies. In meeting this challenge, AI is leading the way.

Brand Experience Evolved

Driven by the personalization that has become commonplace online and on social media, today’s customers expect brands to understand them on an individualized basis, providing a gratifying experience based on that understanding. As a result, how some individual experiences each touchpoint with a brand is integral to how the relationship is developed between the brand and the customer. The role of brand experience has evolved, and AI is central to that evolution. By helping brands deliver effective experiences at scale, AI can strengthen the overall relationship with customers. This is because four qualities inherent to AI complement human processes:

  • Learning from the data without human intervention 
  • Making predictions based on learnings 
  • Operationalizing the predictions 
  • Quickly evolving based on new data 

These qualities can manifest in many ways that are beneficial to marketers and customers.

Take Equals 3’s AI-powered “assistant to the marketing professional,” Lucy. Operationally, Lucy takes the heavy-lifting out of the massive amounts of data available to marketers, delivering winning media plans. She’ll tell you how much to spend, plus where—and where not— to spend it.  Lucy gives brand managers and media planners more time to shape strategy and focus on making higher-impact decisions, enabling personalization at an individual, rather than customer segment, level. This is AI at its most direct, scaling data at a pace beyond what humans can accomplish alone.

More subtle and personalized is the AI-driven experience of Spotify’s “Discover Weekly” playlist, curated weekly for each individual. Using AI technology, Discover Weekly creates a new list that listeners are likely to enjoy, based on their listening history.

Since its launch, Discover Weekly has received positive user feedback, with customers speaking to the accurate insight on their individual moods and musical tastes. It’s a win for artists, too. With millions of tracks available on Spotify, Discover Weekly helps introduce new artists to users that listeners might not have discovered otherwise.

The Disruptors of the Future

It’s important to remember that despite the reliability of data for delivering a brand experience that meets customer expectations, there’s more than science to the equation. An equal amount of creative spontaneity is integral to delivering an experience that feels authentic and relatable, and sometimes, unexpected.

As businesses fully integrate AI into how they deliver brand experiences, they must also ask themselves how they can avoid monotony. After all, many brands have introduced innovative solutions and products to the market, disrupting existing consumer habits, and in many ways, improving our daily lives.

That means the opportunities for using creativity to fill the gaps between the data points is huge. To be successful, brands and their partners must marry creative thinking with innovative technology.

As we move into the era that reaches beyond ‘digital’ as a medium, marketers will need to achieve a balance of data-informed learnings and raw human creativity to inspire their brand experience.

On our journey to the future? Hopefully, we’ll all be making fewer and better daily decisions.

First published in Advertising Week