Snapchat recently announced upgrades to its ad strategy with the incorporation of an artificial intelligence platform known as “goal-based bidding,” which allows advertisers on Snapchat to target their messages more effectively. And by allowing users to swipe ads and dive deeper into the journey, it increases the potential for more consistent and continued consumer engagement.
Especially for marketers wanting to create deeper brand experiences, this integration of technology to offer a brand more dynamic outreach possibilities is essential. Up to this point, marketers – like those utilizing Snapchat’s platform – have used AI and other technologies to boost consumer engagement and improve ad targeting. While the likes of AI are a great start, the best tech innovations – from chatbots to programmatic algorithms and recommendation engines – address consumers’ needs much more holistically.
Leveraging these and other technologies further along in the consumer experience requires a new level of thoughtfulness and creativity, because using technology for technology’s sake is not a winning strategy.
‘Adopt Now, Strategize Later’ Is a Poor Model
Brands often rush to embrace new tech platforms using an “adopt now, strategize later” approach without being entirely sure where these platforms even fit into their brand experiences. For example, offering consumers swipes that can more effectively monitor campaign engagement is a great metric for marketers, but by not linking those swipes to concrete business outcomes, Snapchat misses a crucial opportunity to parlay that technology into a deeper user experience. Any misstep at this stage in engagement can potentially ruin a consumer-brand relationship forever – like getting a first date wrong.
And, when Facebook came under fire in 2016 for utilizing a human “trending team” to vet its news stories, it shifted to an entirely AI platform that used algorithms to determine what and what not to disseminate. The problem with this tech? That algorithm quickly propagated controversial and false stories, a blow to Facebook’s brand and its consumers’ experiences. Again, think in terms of a first date.70% of consumers say VR-powered brand experiences don’t live up to the hype, reiterating that technology for the sake of technology can actually do more harm than good.
AI With A Purpose
Balancing technology with user experience is especially crucial in the context of the corporate world’s tech du jour: AI.
Consider the insurance industry’s use of chatbots to educate consumers. This idea started, as new ideas often do, with a new competitive threat. Lemonade, a New York-based fintech company, disrupted the insurance industry by using chatbots to help users take out policies and to handle claims without employing brokers and while contributing to the social good through its annual “giveback” day.
Using technology in this way augments the human experience instead of frustrating it because that usage achieves two fundamentals: It enhances a customer’s engagement with a brand, and it accomplishes a clearly delineated customer end goal without contributing to “the noise.” Brands that want to achieve this balance can follow these three steps:
1. Ask The Right Questions
Before implementing a new technology, ask: Why are we doing this? What problem are we solving? How does it change the consumer experience? Just because you can integrate a new tech feature into a product or service doesn’t mean you should.
Recently, an international beauty contest decided to forgo human judges and implemented a program called Beauty.AI to score and rank contestants. When the results came back, the “winners” were overwhelmingly white and light-skinned individuals, which resulted in an ethical firestorm and undermined the more nuanced experience consumers had come to expect from the event. While the intention to lean on technology for efficiency and possibility may be well-placed, brands must ultimately consider the short- and long-term implications of the technologies they plan to incorporate before they upend their brand experiences.
2. Understand The Context
While tech solutions solve problems and alleviate pain points, brands need to pay attention to how, why, and when customers use their products and then design the experience around those behaviors. Their primary goals should be incorporating technologies that help to offer more inclusive services and keeping an eye out for opportunities to make consumer tasks and touchpoints even more seamless.
With enough data, you can customize offers and promotions on the basis of each user’s preferences. Air France-KLM mastered this sort of outreach with its 360-degree approach to digital customer services. It uses algorithms to collect comprehensive profiles on each of its 90 million-plus customers from identifiers such as airport lounge preferences, booking history, and flight searches. It also uses algorithms to customize its social media and site response times, all of which combine to form a “made-just-for-me” brand experience.
3. Emphasize Augmentation
Most important to note, AI and other tech tools are not replacements for human ingenuity and empathy, but rather supplements to them. Before you jump to outsource your processes to new tech platforms, make sure you’ve applied your team’s combined years of experience, multidimensional intuitions, and consumer insights to your marketing decisions, working to fuse that humanity with your technological processes.
This new age of cognitive collaboration between AI and humans should eliminate the machine bias and enhance it with augmented intelligence – i.e., the commonsense reasoning powered by machines. Augmented intelligence allows brands to home in on customer engagement across the buyer’s journey, delivering ultra-personalized brand experiences through heightened insights and greater connectivity.
Innovative technologies unleash a host of possibilities for brands and customers alike. But using technology not based in a strong, foundational strategy is a surefire way for a brand to burn through its budget and create headaches for itself – and for consumers. By asking the necessary questions, recognizing context, and augmenting intelligence, companies can implement the right tools and create better brand experiences that keep people at the heart of their campaigns.