Many times when people hear the word "AI," they think of a Terminator-esque dystopia where people are becoming disconnected from themselves, where technology is replacing human connection and personability.
This, however, is a misconception. AI has simply brought us into a new world, a new way to connect, automate, distribute, and work. Instead of focusing on AI's negative associations and how the technology will hinder relationships and work, we can reset how we think about it and focus on the positive aspects as a way to innovate better, harness this positivity into solutions, and think smarter about our daily interactions.
In many ways, AI already makes our lives better — from creating personalized and curated playlists on music platforms like Spotify to offering suggestions on what to watch on Netflix to enabling life-saving medical technologies. Loren McDonald, program director of marketing research at IBM Watson Marketing, stated at ANA's 2019 Email Evolution Conference, "by 2021, virtually every aspect of your email marketing process will be powered by some form of AI or machine learning."
Intrinsically, AI is about personalization — and allowing people to make time for more creative work. It enables humans to live in a more connected world, with every touchpoint available as a way to understand human behavior. Data, privacy, and regulations, of course, should protect consumers — but the technology itself can open the world up to new art, easier ways to manage finances, healthcare benefits, and providing helpful information.
According to Wavemaker, the second largest media agency network in the world, The Washington Post has a "robot reporter" that has written approximately 850 short reports in the last few years using automated technology. This allows journalists to focus on longer form and more complicated pieces.
Music Connects Us All
Listening to music is a defining pastime for people across all groups, irrespective of age, culture, gender, geography, or interest. In terms of AI, music offers a fascinating case study, both for music platforms that use AI and how human behavior and connectivity will evolve with this technology, but also as an example for other industries.
For the algorithm to work properly, for instance, people's preferences and listening habits, which are developed over time, make the platform better; illustrating that it's a cycle of consumer input and data along with the innovation of the platform itself.
Pandora's Music Genome Project is a good example for marketers, as the service provides a personalized listening experience to users; the service collects details on every song — 450 musical attributes altogether — that help the algorithm suggest tracks based on category and relevance.
Similarly, with 248 million-plus users logging in, Spotify has access to a tremendous amount of user data, which helps determine what to suggest. For instance, when someone is listening to a workout playlist, the service knows what to suggest based on mood.
Moreover, many advertisements use music, illustrating the need to continually massage, analyze, and enhance people's connection and relationship to music. In this way, platforms like Pandora and Spotify can help marketers not only choose what music to feature in ads based on best-performing artists and playlists, but can analyze through social listening what different demographics prefer at various moments.
People in the U.S. spend four hours a day listening to audio, and younger generations spend seven hours listening to audio, especially on mobile. Mobile audio allows people to play music at a moment's notice, whether with a friend through headphones or while making dinner. Music, of course, is critical in setting (and influencing) people's moods. According to Pandora, 87 percent of responders said music improves mood while 86 percent of respondents said it relaxes them and 74 percent believe music motivates them.
Pandora partnered with Nielsen to discover how people recalled brand ads through audio cues versus recall of visual ads running on TV. The companies reported that audio increased brand and ad recall: 74 percent recalled relevant audio ads versus 65 percent of people who recalled relevant TV ads. For marketers, audio is a way to engage, interest, inform, and entertain, and relevant audio boosts audio ad recall for consumers.
Storytelling Is Enhanced by AI
HBO created an Alexa skill called The Maze to promote and complement its Westworld series. The "choose your own adventure" game has over 60 storylines. Players interact with characters from the show and determine the direction of the plot by listening for clues and telling Alexa how to proceed at various points in the story. The ability for users to choose storylines that fit with their decisions is only possible through AI technology, versus a more simple gaming system that only has one option.
As Christopher Jablonski wrote in a recent ANA articles, "Marketers need to blend emotional intelligence (EQ), artificial intelligence (AI), and creativity. The formula puts data and machine intelligence on equal footing with creativity because this triad is the final frontier of marketing innovation." This is essentially what immersive storytelling platforms do, whether games or social media.
Wattpad, a storytelling platform with more than 80 million readers and writers, helps people find inspiration and information, as well as discover new things. The company partnered with National Geographic to promote NG's "Planet or Plastic?" initiative, which raises awareness of the global plastic crisis.
As such, Wattpad hosted its first-ever global writing contest that would inspire the community to reduce their use of plastic and sign the Planet or Plastic campaign pledge. The company created 20-second non-skippable videos between chapters of relevant stories, which then went to the "Planet Or Plastic" pledge site.
All of this, of course, was made possible by AI-driven algorithms that promoted these stories on user feeds, which generated 6,210 entries. The campaign received 28,848,463 views of the "Planet or Plastic" video, with a 10.62 percent click-through-rate, as well as 75,000 campaign pledges were garnered from the Wattpad community — which equates to 90 million plastic items pledged to be eliminated.
COVID-19, of course, is only strengthening and deepening people's connection to the "online" world, and thus to AI. According to Adobe, since the global crisis, desktop and video display volume has increased 7.3 percent and mobile video has increased 2.5 percent in the gaming category. In addition, sites are seeing a huge spike in traffic, in some cases, a 60 percent increase, according to MediaPost, further illustrating that ad placement which is often dictated by AI as much as it is by marketers in both placement and context, is crucial.
"AI Can Make the World Better—Here's How." ANA, 2020.