Brand communication in the age of AI

Daniel Requejo

14 December 2017

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People & machines: lost in translation?

We know that one of the biggest trends in technology for 2020 is Artificial Intelligence (AI), as can be seen in our latest Rebel Thinking article. Forrester said that compared to the previous year, investment will grow more than 300% before the end of 2017.

The best studies and the most cutting-edge laboratories have long been developing the systems and algorithms needed to create more “human” machines. The main stakeholders in this evolution are those who establish direct contact with their customers or consumers. Because people are already accustomed to conversation that flows naturally in the form of text, following expressions and speech patterns used in oral conversation, brand communication is expected through the same channels, and with the same rules applied. Currently, the best way to reduce the cost of this kind of service is through the use of virtual bots or assistants.

While there is still much to be explored in the field of social interactions between machines and people, it’s clear that we want something that resembles the way in which we relate to other people in real life. Therefore, we need to understand how the way we think and the way technology works can be reconciled, in order to provide solutions that improve our form and quality of life, with as natural a syntax as possible.


Horoscope: what the future of brand communication looks like for marketers

The technological frontiers that future providers of services will be forced to confront will be largely ethical, because they will directly affect privacy as we understand it today. The understanding that our data is not only being continuously tracked, monitored and analysed, but also stored, may affect consumer confidence in certain companies, but inevitably, society will adapt.

We all know someone who compulsively deactivates access to the location of their mobile phone because they’re afraid somebody else is tracking their movements. Well, it’s possible in theory (your device may have malware installed), but in practice that information is simply being used to generate offers personalised to the user.

It is often the case that when people generalise about a service (more often than not, a digital service) that service ends up evolving rapidly to meet consumer demand. Normally change means a reduction in process time, an improvement on the visual interface, or a change in the way people interact with each other, but generally speaking the change comes in the form of the experience – an experience which engages the senses, without detriment to usefulness or practicality.

This is not to say that we should change everything we do – it means that we will do the same things differently, and quite possible in a more pleasureable way. As humans, once our basic needs are met we begin to seek actions that will stimulate and please our senses. Little by little, technology has made it possible to automate tedious and costly processes, thereby increasing efficiency. For a few years on, in addition to efficiency we have begun to incorporate speed (immediacy or real time) and natural speech patterns to our interactions within these interfaces. New spaces which are able to stimulate and be stimulated by all the senses; interconnected ecosystems which are present in our homes, offices, cities; decentralized services and access to information and knowledge in a new personalized format. In short, new services will emerge that we have yet to discover but we are sure that they will not only make our lives easier, but more enjoyable.

One question you may be asking yourself, do we need to create our own channel for communication or messaging app? Not necessarily. Instead, we should develop a model of collaboration between different already established platforms and applications, like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or WeChat, that provide us with the most important thing: an audience. Additionally, most platforms have their own engine or development environment, which facilities the integration of micro-services performed by third parties. The most common of these types of application are Bots. Many brands are already tripping over themselves trying to implement this new technology which, far from a novel concept, has managed to establish itself as an almost indispensable service for brands in digital environments. Asking for information, placing an order, management queries – all from the same application with which you chat with friends or speak with family – it just makes sense.

It’s clear that the user experience is more important than the channel (or channels) being used. Messaging apps are massive, and so, we must act now and take advantage of that is on offer – though we can’t ignore the possible disadvantages or potential complications, such as sensation intrusion, which becomes even more invasive within a personal space like a mobile phone, and even easier to avoid when users can uninstall an application in seconds.

Communication strategies involving messaging technologies are responsible for an evolution in the field of advertising; the customer is no longer merely a spectator, but an active participant.

A message from a brand, through a messaging app of our choice, personalised and relevant, is not the same thing as a general email newsletter which, more often than not, ends up in Spam. To find out that a new book by our favourite author is on sale, and have the ability to buy it and have it delivered within a few hours thanks to a fully integrated sales system within the application itself – that’s the difference between a unidirectional and a 360º experience.

In both cases, the objective is the same, but both the approach and experience are totally different. It is also important to make ourselves available across multiple channels. By doing this, we position ourselves closer to the interests of the individual consumer, which will ensure our audience feels more comfortable engaging with our brand. We must understand that, in any case, it is people who decide how we interact with the digital world, and these people are increasingly interested in accessing services and customer support in a variety of ways, across a number of different applications which affect a variety of senses.

If we consider the technological advances made over the last few years, as well as the way in which we use technology, it becomes easier to understand why it makes so much sense that all our devices be inter-connected: we have devices that relate to every sense – hearing, sight, taste, smell and touch. For example, if we want to write a text we use a keyboard, if we want to record a sound we use a microphone, if we’re a video game we use a controller, and if we want to immerse ourselves in a virtual reality we use a VR headset.

Messaging applications serve to keep people connected, but they have changed the way we interact and communicate with brands; everything is now more accessible, faster and much easier.