Yesterday Which-50 had some fun playing with IBM’s artificial intelligence engine Watson, in particular the personality insights tool. That exercise was inspired by a presentation delivered by Kevin Bishop, VP of customer engagement solutions, at the IBM Customer Engagement Forum in Sydney last week.

Bishop outlined what role cognitive technologies will play in marketers’ lives, arguing it is all about “augmented intelligence” and “using systems that understand, reason and learn to help us do our jobs better.”

Cognitive marketing tools “let your team get away from the mechanics of executing things and get them back into the headspace of ‘how do I delight my customers and how do I differentiate myself from the competition?’ Because so much of the work is then done by the computer capability, not by your own people having to go through all of the roadwork to prepare the right answers,” Bishop said.

“How would your marketing change if you could understand in real time the content you were producing, understand the content your competitors were choosing, and adapt on the fly how you engage?”

Bishop cited a more scientific use of Watson’s Personality Insights tool for marketers by Red Bull and Havas, which deployed Watson to understand the tone and sentiment of Red Bull’s athletes versus what their fan base was saying about them. The exercise was used to coach their athletes on which parts of their personality or their performance to amp up because it is resonating well and which parts to tone down … Surely there are lucrative contracts waiting to be signed with political parties around the world?

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Havas Cognitive also developed a Social Tone Analyzer to interpret and display how fans were feeling about tennis players they were discussing on Twitter during the Australian Open.

Bishop’s second example of cognitive technologies in marketing addressed how structured and unstructured data could be used to optimise paid media and targeted advertising. IBM is working with an unnamed consumer packaged goods (CPG) company to take weather data paired with social media sentiment to change the specific ads the company was serving up on Facebook.

“It isn’t just a case of people consume more soup in places where it’s cold. That isn’t a surprise, but at points where there was temperature change … they could see a significant change to how people responded to that [temperature change] and it changed the nature of the ads they were providing,” Bishop said.

Bishop also outlined how a cognitive system could alter direct marketing such as email, SMS and call centre agents using the example of ING Direct. The bank “takes 100 different triggers about each one of their customers, that’s over a million customers a week in Australia, and in real time optimises what kind of offer they are going to make to you when you next show up,” Bishop said.

Bishop’s final example from The North Face (pictured above) could be used to highlight the future of marketing or the future of ecommerce, depending on what conference you’re attending. The retailer partnered with developer Fluid to develop a personal shopping interface. Designed to replicate an in-store conversation online, the tool asks questions to filter products and ultimately provide a recommendation.

According to The North Face’s senior director of e-commerce, Cal Bouchard, early results following the launch of the tool in November 2015 increased the time spent onsite by two minutes and 75 per cent said they would use it again. “I think what this tells you is consumers are ready for some kind of AI online shopping experience,” Bouchard said, speaking at National Retail Federation’s Big Show in New York earlier this year.


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