The Fourth Industrial Revolution has brought many innovative new technologies, and one of the most exciting is artificial intelligence (AI). In just the last decade or two, AI has evolved to become very sophisticated and has been adopted by leading companies in a variety of industries.
For advertisers, this means that AI is no longer just a nice-to-have technology — it’s a true necessity in any advertiser’s toolkit. There are many interesting and impactful ways advertisers can use AI. The technology can help you unify data, deliver personalized customer experiences, optimize your marketing mix, and more.
Read on for some of the top problems faced by advertisers that can be solved with artificial intelligence.
1. Unify data and identity
People are now doing more on the internet, more quickly than ever — and they’re not showing any signs of slowing down. Globally, there are 4.39 billion internet users in 2019 — an increase of 366 million (9%) versus January 2018 — spending an average of six hours and 42 minutes online each day.
All this online activity is happening across a wide variety of different channels, from Google to Netflix to Twitter — and across different devices, like smartphones, tablets, and laptops. These channels are where advertisers advertise and where they collect data. As the diversity of channels grows, the diversity of customer data grows as well. With so much audience data to sort through, advertisers who are still relying on a manual approach to managing it are at risk of leaving blind spots in their strategies.
There are many ways AI can help you stay on top of your customer data, and one of the most exciting is identity resolution. In advertising, audience is everything. It’s essential for advertisers to know who they’re advertising to, so they can deliver personalized content and offers. According to Salesforce research, the trouble is, 64% of customers have been known to start transactions on one device and finish them on a different device, which has made it difficult for advertisers to understand that these transaction fragments are really just one transaction made by one person.
Fortunately, with AI-powered probabilistic identity technology, advertisers can resolve customer identities across multiple platforms. AI can actually identify when someone is shopping on their smartphone and later on their laptop. With this knowledge, advertisers can serve similar ads in both places for consistency, or stop serving an offer for a product if a purchase was made on any of a customer’s known devices.
2. Personalize each ad through smarter segmentation
Achieving a unified view of your customers and their data is important for consistency’s sake — but that’s not the only reason. Today’s customers, especially tech-savvy Millennials, expect personalized advertising. They expect timely messages delivered through their preferred channels with offers that appeal to their interests, and they expect to be able to act on those ads and complete purchases themselves.
Advertisers need to deliver 1-to-1 experiences like these at mass scale. This requires data, and a lot of it, which used to be hard to analyze. Even the best team of analysts and data scientists would take hours or days to identify meaningful audience insights. Thanks to AI, though, those days are long gone. Now, you can manage all of your data at scale — no matter how much you have or how many channels you’re collecting it from — so you can act when it matters most.
Through look-alike modeling and new segment discovery, AI can add a helping hand to any advertiser. Remember, one of the main goals of advertising is to grow brand awareness and attract new customers. When done manually, finding new customers can be incredibly difficult and involved. AI-powered lookalike modeling speeds up the process. With it, advertisers can quickly identify their best customers’ key attributes and scour the web to find people with similar characteristics. This data-driven approach helps advertisers optimize their ad spends by making sure they’re only marketing to audiences who are likely to engage.
AI can also help advertisers personalize ads to existing customers — after all, more relevant ads often lead to higher conversion rates. Advertisers can use AI to analyze existing audiences and find shared attributes they may not have previously considered, and use this new information to influence future messaging.
Consider an outdoor gear apparel retailer with an established audience segment of avid hikers. Without AI, they would send the same hiking ad to the entire segment. With an AI tool like Einstein Segmentation, however, they can find distinct personas within the segment, like “Glampers” seeking creature comforts while on the trail, or “Trail Techies” who want the newest and most innovative gear. Now, they can tailor messages to each of these personas — sending an offer for a portable coffee maker to Glampers, and an ad for the latest GPS watch to Trail Techies.
3. Optimize the advertising mix
In the minds of most advertisers, ad budgets usually come last — but certainly not least. Since the advent of modern advertising more than a century ago, advertisers have always had a hard time understanding the impact of their ad spending. It’s been hard to know which sources are performing well, and which are underperforming.
Late-1800s American merchant John Wanamaker was famously quoted as saying “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is, I don’t know which half.” For most advertisers, things aren’t much different today — except that the stakes are getting higher. According to eMarketer, worldwide ad spend in 2018 was around $275 billion and by 2022, it’s expected that nearly half a trillion dollarswill be spent on advertising, and more than half of that will be spent on digital platforms.
The good news is that AI can give you more information about your advertising mix and customer journeys than advertisers of the past ever had access to. Tools like Einstein Journey Insights in Audience Studio can track all the interactions consumers have with your ads across every channel, including websites, mobile apps, email, and beyond.>
Advertisers can leverage this raw data with AI-powered attribution modeling, which delivers insights about which ads, channels, and tactics (such as agent interaction) are most effectively achieving their goals. Advanced systems like these can help advertisers clearly identify the most impactful actions, allowing them to strategically plan their channel mix, budget for ad spending, and build higher-performing customer journeys.
With a deeper, AI-powered understanding of your customers, you can identify their actions across all of their favorite channels and leverage this data to deliver personalized messages at the right moments — all while putting your dollars to work most efficiently and effectively.
Read more about how to tailor digital advertising to your customers by downloading our Digital Advertising 2020 report.